Year of Publication

2011

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Thesis

College

Health Sciences

Department

Communication Disorders

First Advisor

Dr. Jane O’Regan Kleinert

Abstract

Students with significant cognitive disabilities frequently exhibit reduced communicative and academic competence. The Low Incidence Initiative (LII) project was a professional development model designed to train school-based teams to facilitate increased communicative and academic competence with such students via distance-technology coaching. This study analyzed pre-existing data from year one of the LII. Data were analyzed to determine effectiveness of the project on communication status of students and on training school personnel to accurately identify student levels of communication, and for overall satisfaction with the project. Results indicated that all student participants demonstrated improvement in expressive communication output. 100% of students who required augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) increased in the complexity of AAC used. Some improvement in school personnel’s identification of student communication levels was demonstrated, however, the continued discrepancy between LII staff and school personnel indicates a need for additional training in this area. Qualitative analysis of survey question responses, and other anecdotal information, revealed an overwhelming satisfaction with the LII model, increased communicative sophistication of students, improvements in collaborative teaming, increased access to general curriculum for students, and improvement in school personnel skill-level. Implications of the results of this study and areas for future research are discussed.

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