Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 16

Thomas McGovern

1923200

You Forgot to Ask Me: The Experiences of Pupils Identified as Being on the Autism Spectrum within the Upper Primary School Summary Since 2000 there has been an increase in the number of pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum included within mainstream classrooms in Scotland. In the current research the voice of these pupils has been ignored especially within the primary sector and research has been carried out on rather than with this group. This research will use a Transformative Framework to carry out research with this group and the relevant stakeholders. It will provide a forum for pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum, teachers, support for learning staff and parents to have their voice heard. Visual Narrative and Pupil Diaries will be used to explore relationships, learning experiences and general day to day experiences for pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum and their peers. The data produced here will be analysed using social capital theory and there will be involvement of the research participants during this stage. Interviews will take place with teachers, support for learning staff and parents with 6 being chosen from each category giving a total of 18 interviews. Once the interviews have been transcribed these will be analysed using Critical Discourse Analysis to explore the power relations that come through in the discourse and look at how this impacts on pupil experience. Outcomes that emerge from this research will be of interest to pupils, parents, teachers and policy makers as it will provide the first illustration at primary level where all key stakeholders have been consulted. 1. Introduction 1.1 Background to Research Scottish education has changed significantly over the last decade. With the implementation of the Standards in Scotlands Schools Act (2000) an increased number of pupils identified as having Additional Support Needs (ASN) are now being taught in mainstream classrooms. It is expected that all pupils will be taught in mainstream unless exceptional circumstances apply. As part of these changes there has been a significant increase in the number of pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum being taught in mainstream. In addition to the increase in the inclusion of pupils with a variety of ASN within mainstream classes, there has also been a change in the Scottish curriculum with well established 5-14 curriculum being replaced by Curriculum for Excellence. With this change there has been a shift from the promotion of a technical model of pedagogy to one that is more active and engaging (Scottish Government 2008). As a teacher with a specialist role in supporting pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum within mainstream, I am faced with the challenge of supporting teachers and pupils in this framework. As part of my MEd in 2009, I reviewed the literature on Cooperative Learning (a dominant pedagogy in the new curriculum) and its links to autism. I found that the area was virtually unexplored. During this search I discovered something even more 1

Thomas McGovern

1923200

alarming - the lack of studies that actually consulted with pupils on the autism spectrum about their school experiences. I discovered that research in the field of autism is dominated by quantitative methodology and the research tends to be carried out on rather than with this group, a concern also voiced by Humphrey and Lewis (2008). The small amount of existing work in this area is focused only on secondary and it seems that pupils at primary level have been ignored. This study aims to provide a forum for pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum in the upper primary school in Scotland to work with myself as a researcher and become part of the process rather than simply having the research imposed upon them. It will do this by taking into account the views of these pupils and also other key stakeholders such as teachers, parents and other professionals and paraprofessionals to provide a rounded view. 1.2 Context As already discussed above there has been an increase in the number of pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum being taught in mainstream schools. This move towards inclusion is not straightforward as inclusion does not have a single discourse that dominates inclusive practice within our schools (Allen 2008). At this stage I merely hope to acknowledge and outline the two dominant yet contradictory perspectives that can be identified within the inclusion literature a needs based perspective and a rights based perspective (Ravet 2011, Allen 2008). Those who favour a needs-based perspective use the lack of research evidence that supports mainstreaming and the dangers of exclusion that it may promote. In this perspective, a range of educational provision is favoured as a way of meeting the distinctive needs of pupils identified as having additional support needs as it seen as impossible to meet these diverse needs in mainstream contexts. The medical labelling of pupils is promoted and for the pupils in this study identified as being on the autism spectrum a deficit perspective based on impairment is promoted. In opposition to this, there are those who favour a rights-based perspective and the main thrust of their argument is the end to educational segregation and calls for the inclusion of all children and young people in mainstream schools. Within this perspective special pedagogies are rejected as it positions pupils with additional support needs as it reinforces difference as assumes that ordinary classroom teachers cannot teach these pupils without advanced knowledge and expertise (Ravet 2011). As Allen (2008) argues both sides are guilty of ideological handbagging and would do better to try to understand one anothers position as it would generate more substantive and meaningful debates (Allen 2008, pages 12-14). Given the nature of this study, it is inevitable that it will say something about the current position of the inclusion of pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum within mainstream primary schools. This study will also framed within the childs voice discourse which has its roots at a global level and is embedded in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 12 of this convention outlines that children should have their views respected on matters than affect them (UN 1989). This has led to policy developments throughout the world where childs voice is central. In Scotland, childs voice is positioned as central in Getting it Right for Every Child and The Education 2

Thomas McGovern

1923200

(Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 amended 2009. Children are expected where possible to have their voice heard during decision making processes about how their needs are best met. While this exists in policy, this discourse as will be highlighted in the literature review is unexplored for pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum within the Scottish classroom. 1.3 Definition of Terms Pupils with a formal diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder will be referred to throughout the text as pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum. I believe that this way of phrasing it avoids viewing the pupil from a position of deficit. The term parent will be used to refer to parents or guardians of a pupil. Pupil voice will be referred to throughout this proposal. Voice will be taken to mean having an opinion shared whether this is through spoken language or any other medium e.g. written text. Support for learning assistant (SLA) is the term I have selected to describe someone who works with a classroom teacher to support lessons. A range of terms to describe the same position are used throughout schools in Scotland such as classroom assistant and teaching assistant. I have selected the one I am most familiar with to avoid confusion. 1.4 Literature Review While there is a large body of research in the field of autism spectrum disorders and inclusion, research which focuses on the voice of pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum is limited. The literature that will guide this research will be drawn from studies by Ryan (2009), Humphrey and Lewis (2008), Sagger et al. (2011) as they utilise pupil voice to illustrate their perceptions and experiences in school settings. It will also draw on Emam and Farrells (2009) study which explores teachers views on the support available for pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum. While these studies differ at a variety of levels including focus, methodology, epistemology and ontology, they are united in that they are interested in the quality of inclusion for pupils including those identified as being on the autism spectrum. Ryan (2009) is explicit about his use of a Participatory Research framework and uses this to allow pupils including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities to comment on the level of inclusiveness within their school. To enable pupils to do this, he uses visual narrative as a method as it empowers all participants to have a view and also reduces the cognitive and linguistic demands of participation. He keeps his research brief open by allowing the research participants to decide how best to take it forward in each school and this demonstrates that he is working with rather than on the research community. In addition, once the evidence is gathered the analysis of data is carried out by the research participants and this shows community needs being explored and identified by the community itself thus making the findings much more valid and relevant. However, the project is limited in that it focuses on a 3

Thomas McGovern

1923200

limited number of schools and pupils and covers a wide range of disabilities that are not explicitly outlined. Humphrey and Lewis (2008) use a Transformative Framework and this is very similar to the Participatory framework chosen by Ryan (2009) as they aim to work with participants for personal and social transformation. The study explores the views and experiences of pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum in mainstream secondary schools. Appropriate methods are chosen to explore these views as the authors take into account impairments consistent with autism spectrum disorders and the uniqueness of these individual pupils taking part in the study. Methods included pupil diary and pupil drawings which reduce the anxieties of the social situation created by an interview for the community participating in research and are therefore more likely to yield results that are valid and accurate. The data gathered was analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) and this allowed the authors to explore the key meanings that particular experiences and events held for the research participants. Based on the views expressed by the research participants, it was found that despite being academically able to access mainstream education, the group in this study due to their difficulties with social interaction and communication were exposed to bullying and social isolation. The authors highlight that the generalizability of their study is questionable due to the small sample size of 20 and also there is a need to take into account the other stakeholders involved in the process including those of teachers and parents. Saggers et al. (2011) explore the lived experiences of pupils and try to evaluate Kluths (2003) principles of inclusion through the perspectives of these students. The study uses semi-structured interviews to examine the perspectives of 9 students between the ages of 13 to 16 in a large mainstream high school in Brisbane, Australia. Interviews were carried out in two parts with the first used to generate general themes and the second used to analyse the themes that emerged through the constant comparative method of analysis that was employed. I would question the validity of using semi-structured interviews as the primary source of evidence with pupils of this nature due to its social dynamic an issue addressed more appropriately by Humphrey and Lewis (2008) above. A number of key findings emerged from this study including the need for greater structure and flexibility in teaching practice and the classroom environment, the importance of a supportive school structure that in this case did not fully understand pupil strengths and needs and pupil uncertainty over whether interactions initiated by other pupils were genuine attempts to develop friendships or were bullying and teasing. Emam and Farrell (2009) examine teachers perspectives on the support provided for pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum in three primary schools and five secondary schools in North West England. 17 pupils were selected who were identified as being intellectually and linguistically average or above average. The authors were explicit about their choice of a multiple case study design which was underpinned by their assumption that research is idiographic and shaped by the researchers interpretivist views of the phenomenon under investigation. Semistructured interviews were used with teachers and teaching assistants while open ended field notes were used in non-participant observations of teacher-pupil interactions. A combination of case study analytic strategies, thematic analysis and a grounded theory analytic approach were used to make sense of data. It was found that 4

Thomas McGovern

1923200

the tensions held by teachers about support for pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum is shaped by manifestations associated with the autism spectrum. Pupil difficulty with recognition of emotions impacted on their relationships with teachers as they found it difficult to differentiate at an appropriate level during their teaching practice. Teachers relied heavily on Teaching Assistants (TAs) for this group and this also had an impact on the relationship that was developed. The authors questioned benefits of TAs and highlighted a range of other supports that may be more beneficial but as they point out research in these other areas is currently underdeveloped. This literature review explores the existing research on the voice of pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum within the current research. These studies are either within the secondary sector (Humphrey and Lewis 2008, Saggers et al., 2011), do not focus specifically on the autism spectrum (Ryan 2009) or are centred around professionals and ignore the pupils (Emam and Farrell 2009). The proposed research will contribute to this literature by exploring the experiences of pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum within the primary sector in Scotland. In contrast to secondary, pupils at primary tend to work with the same teacher for most of the day and usually have been part of the same small group of pupils since nursery/primary 1. It will be interesting to see how investigating these experiences at primary level will relate to the findings above. 2. Aims of Research To understand the experiences of pupils identified as being on the Autism Spectrum in the upper primary school in Scotland. Objective 1 To explore the experiences of pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum within the upper primary school Research Questions 1.1 How do pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum view their relationships with teaching staff, non-teaching staff and other pupils? 1.2 How do other pupils view their relationships with teaching staff, nonteaching staff 1.3 What type of experiences are pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum presented with in the classroom, beyond the classroom and beyond the school? How are these experiences viewed by the pupils? 1.4 What type of experiences are other pupils presented with in the classroom, beyond the classroom and beyond the school? How are these experiences viewed by the pupils? 1.5 How do pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum feel about their general day to day experiences at school? 1.6 How do other pupils feel about their general day to day experiences at school? 5

Thomas McGovern

1923200

1.7 What similarities and differences are there between pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum and their peers with regard to relationships, learning experiences and general day to day school experience? Objective 2 To investigate the power relationships at play within the discourses provided by teachers, support for learning staff and parents during interviews.

Research Questions 2.1 How do stakeholders understand their role in relation to relationships, learning experiences and general day to day school experiences for learners identified as being on the autism spectrum? 2.2 How do each the stakeholders perceive the network of stakeholders and their position and power within this? 2.3 How accountable do each of the stakeholders perceive themselves as being for shaping the experiences for pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum?

3. Design of Study This study will attempt to bring the voices of pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum within upper primary to the fore. It will also include the voices of other key stakeholders involved with these pupils namely teachers, other pupils, support for learning assistants and parents. Crotty (2010, page 4) outlines four elements for carrying out research. These four elements inform one another and due to the structure they provide will be used to guide this research (see figure 1). A Transformative Theoretical perspective will be used and this was developed from Critical Theory by Mertens (2005). In Critical Theory the aim is emancipation whereas in Transformative Research the researcher works with participants for personal and social transformation. This research will draw on Mertens (2009) for its epistemology, theoretical perspective and methodology. Figure 1 Epistemology

Thomas McGovern

1923200

Theoretical perspective

Methodology

Methods

Epistemology is the assumptions about the nature of knowledge and the relationship between the researcher and stakeholders needed to achieve accurate knowledge (Mertens 2009, page 49). In Transformative Research, the epistemological viewpoint is that knowledge is seen as neither absolute nor relative. Knowledge is socially and historically situated with issues of power and privilege addressed explicitly. To know a communitys reality, it is essential for the researcher to establish an interactive link between themselves and the participants in the study. In this case, close links would need to be established between the school communities participating in research and myself as researcher. Objectivism and its need to produce value neutral scientifically valid knowledge is rejected. It focuses on building on and developing our personal, living knowledge as opposed to throwing it away in the search for objectivity (ibid, page). Ontology is the nature of what exists, the nature of reality. Transformative Research rejects cultural relativism and acknowledges that multiples definitions of reality are possible. It interrogates issue of power and acknowledges that multiple realities are socially constructed. From a power perspective I hope to empower those individuals identified as being on the autism spectrum by avoiding viewing them from a deficit perspective. In this research I intend to view individuals on the autism spectrum not as being in defect, but having their own language a language that can be easily accessed by this research, the school community and beyond when the right attitudes and beliefs are applied. I must resist the temptation to empower this group more than other groups within the study as this will be counter-productive. It would be easy to do this since their voice has been missing from the research at primary school level. However, in line with the Transformative Framework outlined above, I will ensure care will be given to this issue throughout especially when gathering and analysing data. A good illustration of this is gathering data via pupil diaries. Initially I was tempted to provide additional methods for only pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum to record their 7

Thomas McGovern

1923200

diaries but on reflection this excludes other pupils who might be equally motivated or benefit from recording their diaries in one of the alternative ways presented. I will therefore provide methods of diary recording that can be accessed by everyone but take into account the communicative strengths of those identified as being on the autism spectrum. 3.1. Sample As the literature review has highlighted, the voices of pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum is marginalised within research in the secondary sector but completely unheard in the primary sector. The sample will therefore be homogeneous in the sense that it will centred around pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum in mainstream primary school settings within Scotland. At this stage two schools one in Falkirk Council and one in Stirling Council have informally expressed an interest in participating and further schools will be targeted within these Local Education Authorities as they provide settings I can reach within my working day and will make the process manageable as part of the EdD. However, before formally approaching schools for participation, I will need to be granted permission by the Director of Education in each authority. Once permission is granted, I will meet with the Head Teacher of the participating establishment to explain the purpose of my research and outline the processes it will involve. It is hoped that a sample size ranging from between 12 and 15 will be used drawn from pupils stages within the upper school (P 4-7). At this stage it is difficult to be definitive as pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum tend to represent only a small percentage of each schools population and the final number will be based on the opportunities that present themselves. It is hoped that a sample of between 12 and 15 will be large enough to generate thick descriptions yet not so large that in-depth analysis of each case becomes impossible. This will allow me to take each of the voices within the sample seriously and allow them to be heard and not get lost within the data. To make the process manageable I would be aiming for an average of 3 pupils in each of the participating schools the population of the school would need to have 2 or more pupils to ensure that trips to the location where yielding data worthy of the time being invested. In addition, 3 pupils will be selected that are not identified as being on the autism spectrum for each pupil each one who has been identified. These pupils will be selected from the Visual Narrative groupings as they will be working more closely with pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum throughout. I therefore require access to at least 4 or 5 settings and access to these meeting the above criteria will need to be negotiated. Consideration also has to be given to the sample of teachers, SLAs and parents that will be interviewed as part of this study. As it would be impossible to interview all teachers, support for learning assistants and parents, purposive sampling will be used (Cohen and Manion 2011, page 156). Purposive sampling will enable me to get rich data from each of these groups but in employing this strategy the breadth of the study will be compromised (ibid). To make it manageable and give each group an equal opportunity to have their voice heard, 6 from each category will be selected yielding data from 18 interviews in total. Audio recorded semi-structured interviews will take place with each group within a designated area within the school they are attached to.

Thomas McGovern Objective 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 2.1 2.2 2.3 Method of Data Collection Visual Narrative Visual Narrative Visual Narrative Visual Narrative Pupil Diary Pupil Diary Visual Narrative and Pupil Diary Semi-structured Interview Semi-structured Interview Semi-structured Interview Data Analysis Social Capital Social Capital Social Capital Social Capital Social Capital Social Capital Social Capital Critical Discourse Analysis Critical Discourse Analysis Critical Discourse Analysis

1923200 Outcomes 1,2,3,5 2,3 1,2,3,5 2,3 1,2,3,5 2,3 1,2,3,5 4,5 4,5 4,5

3.2 Ethical Considerations The BERA Revised Ethical Guidelines for Education Research (2004) will guide this study. It will be used to manage the key ethical issues including the need for voluntary informed consent, the right to withdraw from research, anonymity, confidentiality and the power differential between the researcher and the research participants. At the initial stages voluntary informed consent will be required from the Director of Education in each authority. The next step is to meet in person with any Head Teachers who are interested in taking part in the project. To ensure they have time to properly consider a response, a consent form will be left with them along with a prepaid envelope which they can return to me within 10 working days. Following this contact will be made with parents via a letter which will outline the research including information such as how the data will be stored, used and dealt with following the project. As Oliver 2003 points out, researchers have an ethical obligation to seek informed consent of gatekeepers as they have much more to lose than the researcher. Once the research is complete the researcher simply packs up and moves on whereas the gatekeeper has to live with the daily consequence of any impact the research has (Oliver 2003, page 39 cited in Cohen and Manion 2011, page 79). I will meet with the class teachers and SLAs prior to meeting with pupils to outline project and get written consent once again teachers can post this to me in a prepaid envelope so as not to be pressured into a decision. In an attempt to get genuine informed consent from pupils taking part in the study, I plan to create a powerpoint presentation outlining the project and its purpose which I will personally deliver to them. A copy of the presentation with a space for pupils to sign at a later date will be provided. This will ensure that they are not obligated to consent because I am there. The class teacher can forward the consent forms onto me in the pre-paid enveloped provided.

Thomas McGovern

1923200

Anonymity will be ensured by changing the names of individuals, schools and other information that may compromise the protection of identities. To ensure confidentiality, interview transcripts will be shown to teachers and SLAs prior to publication and they will be provided with the opportunity to refuse publication. Moreover, any extracts from pupil diaries that are intended for use within the publication will be shown to the pupils first and they will be given the right to accept or refuse its use. Participants will be provided with the opportunity to opt out of the research at any time. From the pupil perspective they will be reminded before each activity that they are opting in and have the opportunity not to participate if they dont want to be part of the research anymore. One of the central themes of this research is seeking the voice of pupils voice (including those identified as being on the autism spectrum) to find out about their experiences at school. Gallagher (2008) warns us that even the most child-centred approach is ultimately led by an adult research agenda. It is not as simple as the researcher having power and sharing this with the child (research participant). In an attempt to overcome this imbalance I will try to work with and give as much ownership as possible to the pupils participating in the data collection phase. There will be choices available in the type of daily diary they use to record their experiences and they will have ownership over how they go about creating the visual narrative. 3.3 Methodology Consistent with the underlying epistemological and ontological assumptions of the Transformative paradigm outlined above, Mertens (2009) provides a general Transformative Methodology to support which will be utilised in this study. In the Transformative Methodology, qualitative methods are seen as critical. She also provides the possibility of using a mixed method approach but I am firmly sticking to qualitative methods due to my small sample size. It does not have a specific set of methods of its own so the qualitative methods selected will have to be consistent with the guidelines set out by Mertens (2009). The methodology advocates using methods that address cultural complexity. Since this study includes pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum, there is a necessity to provide methods that are visual and slow down the communication process as this tends to be when communication is most effective for this group. Visual Narrative will be used as a means for pupils to share their experiences in different areas throughout the school and to explore their links to their peers. There will also be space for pupils to interpret the Visual Narrative brief. Conditions will also need to be tied to this type of task so that everyone gets to have their voice heard in all areas and to avoid the data that is produced having the voice of the pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum marginalised once again. Providing space for pupils to interpret the Visual Narrative brief also meets another key requirement of this methodology as it involves community members in decisions. This objective will be further met by providing options for pupils when completing their daily diaries. The options provided must be suitable for all members of this community and a variety of approaches should be available to all. I hope to avoid making teachers and SLAs feel under pressure especially when it comes to semi10

Thomas McGovern

1923200

structured interviews. Their interviews will be carried out nearer the end of the project and by that time a rapport should be established. To lessen their anxieties about the semi-structured interview, questions will be given to them a week in advance. By approaching it in such a way I aim to gain the trust of the research participants within the community and it will lead to research being carried out with rather than on the them. A further underlying methodological assumption is that the trust built up during the research project should be a link to social action. I hope that by giving more responsibility to the pupils and their teacher for gathering data, the outcomes will be more likely to impact on their institutions. It becomes the community generating change for the community. At the end of the project I hope to use pupils in helping to categorise data from the Visual Narrative and also to share their Visual Narratives and a pupil friendly version of the research findings to other pupils, adults and professionals. 3.4. Data Collection 3.4i. Visual Narrative Visual Narrative is going to be used to explore the experiences pupils have throughout the school in terms of relationships, learning experiences and general day to day experience. Participants will create the data by taking photographs within different areas of the school covering a range of tasks they regularly take part in and will be asked to share their opinions about each of their experiences. They will also carry out a similar task to allow them to explore relationships. The brief will be left open to allow interpretation so as to create ownership, but not too open that they are unsure what is required. Pupils will complete their activities in small groups similar to the ones that they usually work in during class to ensure that there is minimal disruption to the social dynamics of the classroom. This method of data collection fits with the transformative methodology outlined above as it works with participants and views them as co-researchers (Prosser and Loxley 2008). It can be seen as research for the community by the community and due to its inclusive nature promotes democratic values in planning, data gathering and analysis (Carrington and Holm 2005). By using images it is hoped that statements can be made that are more powerful than words alone. Visual Narrative using photography is an information gathering process that allows reflection on previously taken for granted assumptions in this case the nature of inclusion for pupils identified with autism spectrum disorder. However, within this process there needs to be an awareness of the fact that pupils may stage photographs which lose the moment of expressioness and they may also be subject to censorship by the pupils themselves and school staff thus compromising their reliability. 3.4ii. Pupil Diaries Pupil diaries will be used to supplement the information gathered through the Visual Narrative. The sample that will be selected will be those pupils who are in the same Visual Narrative group as the pupil identified as being on the autism spectrum. This 11

Thomas McGovern

1923200

will provide continuity with the data gathered from the Visual Narrative. It is an underused method that allows data to be gathered that is often otherwise hard to obtain (Humphrey and Lewis 2008). The method is also consistent with the Transformative Methodology as it allows for the community taking part in the research is taken into consideration. Pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum would find interviews more difficult due to members of this community generally finding methods that avoid social interaction more relaxing thus increasing the validity of the data gathered. Diaries will take a semi-structured format with general areas outlined by myself as researcher but also providing space for pupils to elaborate on other issues that may emerge. A range of options will be available for all pupils including those identified as being on the autism spectrum to ensure that some dont feel excluded by other methods only being available to some pupils. It will also provide an account of events in real-time and allow for information that may not emerge in an interview context to come to the fore (ibid). However, there needs to be an awareness that pupils may not be reflective or be unable to share the things that might not have well. 3.4iii. Semi-structured Interviews Semi-structured interviews will be used to gain the perception of 6 teachers, support for learning assistants and parents about their perception of identified pupils on the autism spectrums experiences at school. These interviews will be recorded on an iPod as these devices are less threatening due to the fact that they are easily recognisable and most people come into contact with them regularly or may even own one. Data produced on the iPod is digital and allows for the files created to be worked through in a flexible way. The use of semi-structured interviews is useful because it allow for further examination of complex issues that may arise and further clarification of opinions can be sought. Discussions can be directed by the interviewer and will allow me to target groups based on their relationship to pupil e.g. teacher from school/classroom context. However, the agenda I set is pre-supposed and I dictate what is and what is not important. To overcome this I hope to provide space for the interviewee to introduce any related theme which they think is important as this is within the transformative research and will go beyond research where the agenda is set only by the researcher. 3.5. Data Analysis 3.5i. Visual Narrative and Social Capital The Visual Narratives and Pupil Diaries will be analysed using social capital theory in an attempt to understand the social networks that are operating within and across school contexts. There are three types of social capital: bonding, bridging and linking (McGonigal et al. 2007). These will be used to map out and make sense of the networks. Bonding involves people with similar characteristics and reinforces homogeneity and exclusivity (McGonigal et al. 2007 cites Field 2003). This perspective would include networks that look at homogonous groups and could 12

Thomas McGovern

1923200

include pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum, year groups, peer groups, teachers and identified spaces within the school e.g. gym hall. Bridging is the connections between people from diverse contexts and tends to promote greater inclusion. From a bridging perspective the networks that would be relevant could include whole school assemblies, after school clubs that span across more than one age group and events with other schools such as inter-school events e.g. football or boccia. Linking social capital is where less powerful brokers are brought into the network and they have power to exert genuine influence. Such networks are looser and more open ended (McGonigal et al. 2007). Here I am interested in the strength of pupil voice within each school and the impact they are able to exert over school decisions. In addition, the transformative nature of my study will be promoting linking social capital by providing a forum where pupil voice can be heard and therefore this study is not value free but influencing the dynamics of social capital within and across the school environments it is being carried out in. In analysing the data I hope to involve the pupils who have participated in mapping out the bonding, bridging and linking aspects of social capital. The concepts will have to be presented in a way that allows pupils to draw out the different social networks that exist. 3.5ii. Semi-structured Interviews The interviews carried out with teachers, SLAs and parents will be recorded on an iPod and will be transcribed as accurately as possible using the conventions outlined in Flick (2009, page 301). A balanced view will be taken acknowledging that it is an important step in the analysis of data but avoiding becoming excessive about exactness (ibid, page303). This is due to the fact that I am focusing on the linguistic exchange of teachers, support for learning assistants and parents as way to understand their interpretation of how pupils on the autism spectrum experience school and while it is still important, there is less need to get hung up on the organisation of language. I will carry out the transcriptions personally to remove the bias involved in introducing another person. It will also be useful when analysing the data as I am confident about how it got from audio to textual format and the decisions made within this process. Transcribed interviews will be checked with interviewees for accuracy thus keeping them closely involved in the process. 3.5iii. Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) CDA will be used to analyse the semi-structured interviews in this study. This method of analysis has been chosen because it fits well with the Transformative Framework that will be utilised within this study. Both are derived from the critical tradition and reject the notion of value free science and acknowledge the influence of social structures and are produced in social interaction (Van Dijk 2001, page 352). Within transformative research power is addressed explicitly (Mertens 2008, page 49). CDA will be used to examine the way discourse structures enact, confirm, legitimate, reproduce, or challenge relations of power and dominance within the context being studied (Van Dijk 2001, page 353). Moreover, it will explain the discourses that emerge from the data in terms of properties of social interaction and especially social structure (Van Dijk 2001, page 352). Given that the data analysis will address power relations and social structures the outcomes will provide the basis for social action. 13

Thomas McGovern

1923200

3.5iii. Presentation of Data Findings from the analysis of data will be presented in narrative and visual form. Direct quotations from interviews and pupil diaries will be presented as they are to allow the voices from the community to be heard untainted. Photographs will also be presented throughout the text to illustrate interpretations, explanations and descriptions. I would also like to use pupils involved to be responsible for the sharing of a pupil friendly summary of the research findings. 4. Proposed Timetable Activity Revise Proposal Time Scale Feb-May 12 Additional Comments

Literature Review

Feb-Aug 12

Data Collection

May-Dec 12

Will seek clearance from the Directors of Education in Falkirk and Stirling Councils in Feb 12 Will start to target school to participate once clearance is granted Meetings with Head Teachers, class teachers and pupils

Data Transcription July-Dec 12

Coding and analysis

Sept 12 Mar 13

Consideration about P7 pupils who have participated is required as they may have produced data in May but will no longer be at Primary to analyse it. Some aspects of coding and analysis may have to be brought forward to deal with this.

Initial drafting of chapters

Dec 12- Jul 13

Final editing and submission

Nov 13 Feb 14

14

Thomas McGovern 5. Outcomes

1923200

1. An account of the experiences pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum have in the upper mainstream primary school 2. A comparison of the experiences of pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum and their peers within the upper mainstream primary school 3. A description of the networks and levels of social capital that are found to exist among pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum and their peers 4. A representation of the dynamics of power at play between teachers, support for learning staff, and how this relates to the experience of pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum 5. A set of guidelines that will inform the inclusion of pupils within mainstream primary school classrooms 5.1 Contingencies The main concern I have for my study is finding an appropriate sample. It is possible that the schools who are interested in participating might only have one pupil identified as being on the autism spectrum and therefore a greater number of schools will have to be part of the study for it to go ahead. There are two possible solutions if this happens. Firstly, re-evaluate the sample with the view of going to an even smaller number and adjust the rest of the study based on this. However, it may be better to increase the range in which I look for participant schools and could try moving beyond Falkirk Council and Stirling Council to look at schools in North Lanarkshire where I still have a lot of connections from my previous work there. It is also possible that the pupils identified as being on the autism spectrum who are the main focus of this study may not engage initially with the methods provided. A greater length of time may be spent in adjusting these methods taking into account the communicative strengths of the individuals within this study. I also need to be aware that during data collection some pupils may be ready to transition to secondary school and will not be available after the summer holidays to help with data analysis. For this group data analysis will have to be carefully considered and moved forward to ensure that the opportunity they have provided is not wasted. 6. References Allen, J. (2008) Rethinking inclusive education: The philosophers of difference in practice. Dordrecht: Springer. Carrington, S. and Holm, K. (2005) Students direct inclusive school development in an Australian secondary school: An example of student empowerment. Australasian Journal of Special Education, 29(2), pp. 155-171 Cohen L. & Manion L. (2011) Research Methods in Education, London: Routledge Crotty M. (1998) The Foundations of Social Research, London: Sage Emam M.M. and Farrell, P. (2009) Tensions experienced by teachers and their views of support for pupils with autism spectrum disorders in mainstream schools, European Journal of Special Needs Education, 24(4), pp. 407-422 Flick, U. (2009). An introduction to qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

15

Thomas McGovern

1923200

Gallagher, M. (2008) Foucault, Power and Participation: in International Journal of Childrens Rights, 16 (3), pp. 396-406 Humphrey, N., Lewis, S. (2008), Make me Normal: The views and experiences of pupils on the autistic spectrum in mainstream secondary schools, in Autism: An International Journal of Research and Practice, 12(1), pp. 23-46 McGonigal, J., Doherty, R., Allan, J., Mills, S., Catts, R., Redford, M., Mott, J. & Buckley, C. (2007) Social capital, social inclusion and changing school contexts: A Scottish perspective, British Journal of Educational Studies, 55 (1), 77-94. Mertens, D.M. (2005) Research and Evaluation in Education and Psychology, London: Sage Mertens, D.M. (2009). Transformative Research and Evaluation. NY: The Guilford Press. Prosser, J. and Loxley, A. (2008) Introducing Visual Methods. NCRM Methodological Review. www.ncrm.ac.uk/research/outputs/publications/ Ravet, J. (2011) Inclusive/exclusive? Contradictory perspectives on autism and inclusion: the case for an integrative approach. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 15(6) Ryan, D. (2009) `Inclusion is more than a place': exploring pupil views and voice in Belfast schools through visual narrative. British Journal of Special Education, 36, pp. 77-84. Saggers, B., Hwang Y., and Mercer, L. (2011) Your Voice Counts: Listening to the voice of high school students with autism spectrum disorder. Australasian Journal of Special Education. (In Press) Scottish Executive (2000a) Standards in Scotlands Schools etc. Act, Edinburgh: The Stationery Office Scottish Government (2008) Building the curriculum 3: a framework for learning and teaching. Edinburgh: Scottish Government. Van Dijk, T.A., (2001) Critical Discourse Analysis, in D. Tannen, D. Schiffrin and H. Hamilton (eds) Handbook of Discourse Analysis. Oxford: Blackwell.

16