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An action research mixed method evaluation of the implementation of an anxiety intervention/prevention program for year 3 children at a language development centre preparing to enter into mainstream education

Siddall, Darralynn (2010) An action research mixed method evaluation of the implementation of an anxiety intervention/prevention program for year 3 children at a language development centre preparing to enter into mainstream education. Professional Doctorate thesis, Murdoch University.

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        Abstract

        This study examines the effectiveness of implementing a modified cognitive behavioural (CBT) anxiety intervention/prevention program to meet the specific needs of speech and language impaired (SLI) children enrolled in a Language Development Centre (LDC), as they prepare to exit the LDC and enter into mainstream education. The study implemented the anxiety CBT program over two consecutive school years incorporating two different Year 3 cohorts (age range 7 to 9 years) and is reported in three stages.

        The first study aimed to modify an anxiety CBT intervention/prevention program (namely the FRIENDS for Life program) for SLI children enrolled in Year 3 at a LDC as they prepared to exit the LDC and enter into mainstream education. All children offered the program participated in the study however, parent participation was low.

        Previous research (Barrett et al, 1996, Barrett, 1999; Bett, 2002; Mendlowitz, 1996 & Rapee et al, 2005) found that in order for anxiety intervention/prevention programs to be efficacious for children, the program focus needed to include parents. The inclusion of parent participation for children with language impairment is considered essential, as the children are more likely to benefit from having the CBT strategies consolidated and supported at home (Bett, 2002).

        Therefore, the second study involved a re-implementation of the modified FRIENDS for Life program to a second cohort of SLI children in Year 3 the following year. Due to low participation of parent involvement in the first study, this study aimed for improved parent involvement and participation of the parent FRIENDS for Life sessions.

        Thirty-two children participated in study one and thirty-three children participated in study two. Both studies used an action research mixed method evaluation approach to gain a comprehensive assessment of the effectiveness of the program. The outcomes, using standardised outcome measures showed no significant difference between the control group and the intervention group. However using program specific descriptive and nontraditional measures indicate that differential and positive changes were attained for the intervention group.

        Investigation of a complex data set using a variety of methods during various points in the evaluation process provided complementary information, this formed the foundation for more comprehensively assessing children with speech/language impairment. The intervention groups developed an increased awareness of their own and other people’s emotions and most importantly they developed a wider array of ‘emotion language’ when compared to the control group at post intervention. In addition, the intervention group attained a sound understanding of the FRIENDS plan and skills at post intervention.

        A one year follow-up, of the original study, to explore the long-term benefits of the FRIENDS program for SLI children was not completed following a poor response rate. This is discussed and explored as it may benefit the way future research is conducted for families of children with SLI.

        The studies highlighted the benefits of the FRIENDS program for children with SLI and the need to explore more effective ways to increase parent participation at the FRIENDS for Life parent sessions. Implications of the findings are examined, alongside limitations and directions for future research.

        Publication Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
        Murdoch Affiliation: School of Psychology
        Supervisor: Bett, Robyn and Lee, Libby
        URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/11128
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