• Acknowledging mother's lived experience of raising a child with Autism : a phenomenological inquiry

      Posavad, Jamie; Department of Child and Youth Studies (Brock University, 2009-03-09)
      Autism is one of those human ambiguities that forces vigilant open-mindednesssometimes this open-mindedness comes without choice, for example when you become the mother of a child with autism. Recent reports indicate that Pervasive Developmental Disorders affect 1 in 150 children (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007). This also means that there are many families caring for children with autism. The purpose of this research was to explore the day to day lived experiences of mothers caring for a child with autism. With a drastic increase in children diagnosed with autism, and very little research on mothers themselves, assisting in articulating lived experiences from mothers themselves seemed like an acceptable first step. Mothers were asked to journal for a period of one month, once a week, as well as participate in a focus group. Findings from both of these techniques were analyzed using underpinnings from Amelio Giorgi and Max van Manen. General findings indicate that mothers present poignant narratives about living with their child. It becomes clear that mothers are stressed, and live a complicated and often contradictory existence. Many days are fraught with struggle, anticipation, watchful eyes, judgment and guilt. There is a constant battle waging; the one within themselves, and the one with an uninformed and uncooperative public. Given that this research contributes to an extremely small body of qualitative research on mothers, future research should continue to gain insight from mothers, without classifying or categorizing their words. Their words speak volumes. Professionals may know autism, but mothers know their children.
    • Adapting to Parental Investment Uncertainty? The Role of Personality and Puberty

      Schiralli, Katerina; Department of Child and Youth Studies
      Early childhood experiences of parental investment uncertainty appear to influence later dating and sexuality in girls. Research has suggested that this relationship is mediated by the timing of pubertal development. This thesis investigated whether personality traits also mediated this relationship. A path model was tested with paths from indices of early parental investment uncertainty to dating and sexuality through pubertal development and personality. Results suggested that pubertal development did not mediate the relationship between early experiences of parental investment. However, there was some evidence that personality, specifically the trait Honesty-Humility, was associated with early experiences of parental investment uncertainty and dating and sexuality in girls.
    • The Adaptiveness of Antisocial Personality Traits: Obtaining Reputation, Resources, and Reproduction Through Bullying

      Provenzano, Daniel; Department of Child and Youth Studies
      Adolescents may compete with each other for access to adaptive outcomes (e.g., social, material, and sexual resources) that have reliably led to survival and reproduction in the ancestral past. However, adolescents may have varying levels of success in securing adaptive outcomes depending on their personality. For instance, antisocial personality traits may provide adolescents with competitive advantages through the use of antisocial behaviours such as bullying. Therefore, the goal of this study was to investigate if adolescents with certain personality traits may use bullying to express those traits adaptively to gain favourable outcomes. A sample of 231 adolescents (113 males, Mage = 14.60, SD = 1.57) completed self-report questionnaires on personality, bullying involvement, social dominance, material resources, and sexual behaviour. Mediation analyses were conducted and offered mixed support for hypotheses. Bullying partially mediated the relation of Honesty-Humility and Agreeableness with social outcomes, although both personality factors also had direct effects on material outcomes and indirect effects on sexual outcomes through bullying. Furthermore, there were no significant partial mediations between Emotionality and any of the adaptive outcomes. Results provide support for the adaptive function of bullying and suggest that adolescents with lower Honesty-Humility and lower Agreeableness may increase the willingness to use bullying to obtain social and sexual goals.
    • Addressing the Summer Learning Gap Among Children with Reading Difficulties

      Grice, Melanie; Department of Child and Youth Studies
      This study explored literacy change and development in children with reading difficulties over the summer months. More specifically, a summer literacy program called S.L.A.M., offered by the Learning Disabilities Association of the Niagara Region, was examined. A multi-lens approach was used to examine the efficacy of the summer literacy program, and the contextual factors associated with its success and the children’s overall success in the program. Fifteen children, ages 6-10, were administered a series of reading-based measures, while facilitators involved with the program’s implementation were interviewed in focus groups, and a daily field journal was maintained by the program Head Facilitator. Results of the study indicated that literacy intervention during the summer months can help to alleviate the summer learning loss and support further literacy development in vulnerable readers. Such findings hold important implications for policy and practice surrounding models of schooling and programming that support children’s learning yearlong.
    • Age-Related Changes in Visual Spatial Working Memory Cognits: Frontal-Parietal EEG Coherence During Delay

      Schofield, Lisa; Department of Child and Youth Studies (Brock University, 2015-01-12)
      This study explored changes in scalp electrophysiology across two Working Memory (WM) tasks and two age groups. Continuous electroencephalography (EEG) was recorded from 18 healthy adults (18-34 years) and 12 healthy adolescents (14-17) during the performance of two Oculomotor Delayed Response (ODR) WM tasks; (i.e. eye movements were the metric of motor response). Delay-period, EEG data in the alpha frequency was sampled from anterior and parietal scalp sites to achieve a general measure of frontal and parietal activity, respectively. Frontal-parietal, alpha coherence was calculated for each participant for each ODR-WM task. Coherence significantly decreased in adults moving across the two ODR tasks, whereas, coherence significantly increased in adolescents moving across the two ODR tasks. The effects of task in the adolescent and adult groups were large and medium, respectively. Within the limits of this study, the results provide empirical support that WM development during adolescence include complex, qualitative, change.
    • An assessment of autism knowledge in the medical field

      Campbell, Lindsay.; Department of Child and Youth Studies (Brock University, 2008-11-04)
      Once thought to be rare, pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs) are now recognized as the most common neurological disorders affecting children and one of the most common developmental disabilities (DD) in Canada (Autism Society of Canada, 2006). Recent reports indicate that PDDs currently affect 1 in 150 children (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007). The purpose of this research was to provide an understanding of medical resident and practicing physicians' basic knowledge regarding PDDs. With a population of children with PDDs who present with varying symptoms, the ability for medical professionals to provide general information, diagnosis, appropriate referrals, and medical care can be quite complex. A basic knowledge of the disorder is only a first step in providing adequate medical care to individuals with autism and their families. An updated version of Stone's (1987) Autism survey was administered to medical residents at four medical schools in Canada and currently practicing physicians at three medical schools and one community health network. As well, a group of professionals specializing in the field ofPDDs, participating in research and clinical practice, were surveyed as an 'expert' group to act as a control measure. Expert responses were consistent with current research in the field. General findings indicated few differences in overall knowledge between residents and physicians, with misconceptions evident in areas such as the nature of the disorder, qualitative characteristics of autism, and effective interventions. Results were also examined by specialty and, while pediatricians demonstrated additional accurate 11 knowledge regarding the nature of the disorder and select qualitative impairments, both residents and practicing physicians demonstrated misconceptions about PDDs. This preliminary study replicated the findings of Stone (1987) and Heidgerken (2005) concerning several misconceptions of PDDs held by residents and practicing physicians. Future research should focus on additional replications with validated measures as well as the gathering of qualitative information, in order to inform the medical profession of the need for education in PDDs at training and professional levels.
    • Back to School, Back to Normal? Exploring the Lived Experiences of Childhood Cancer Survivors and their Families Throughout the School Re-Entry Process

      Oleiro, Marlene; Department of Child and Youth Studies (2013-04-10)
      This study investigated parent and child perspectives of childhood cancer survivors' return to school. Four specific areas were examined including cognitive and academic concerns, social issues, perceived support, and the impact on siblings. Participants consisted of parents and childhood cancer survivors who were recruited through a regional parent support group. Data was collected during a focus group and interviews. Using a descriptive content analysis, results indicated that participants generally received the necessary resources, however issues such as consistency and having to advocate in order to attain these resources served as barriers for the families.
    • Becoming and Remaining an Activist: A Qualitative Study of Animal and Disability Rights Activism among Older Youth

      Aldhelm-White, Corrie; Department of Child and Youth Studies
      Drawing on past research findings, this qualitative research study explored seven early childhood (i.e., distal) and current (i.e., proximal) factors self-reported by older youth as being important in shaping their personal life course toward becoming and remaining involved in the animal rights movement: 1) education, 2) gender, 3) lifestyle, 4) parental involvement, 5) first event, 6) empathy, and 7) collective identity. This research study also adopted a comparative lens and explored the similarities and differences in responses between older youth who engaged in animal and dis/ability rights activism. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with six animal rights activists and six dis/ability rights activists ranging in age from 21 – 30 years and Bronfenbrenner’s Bioecological Model of Human Development was applied. The qualitative research findings revealed that in terms of distal factors that are associated with becoming an animal rights activist the participants reported that education, gender, first events, parental involvement, lifestyle, and empathy were all significant factors. Proximally, the participants reported that education, lifestyle, empathy, and collective identity were significant factors associated with remaining an animal rights activist. The comparative analyses revealed the following five factors as relevant to understanding engagement in animal versus dis/ability rights activism: collective identity, first event, parental involvement, empathy, and gender. Unexpected themes were also revealed that help to explain some of the current challenges (i.e., problems within the movement) and benefits (i.e., intersectionality) that participants experience in the animal rights movement.
    • A black-focused school : black Canadian youth and the mainstream curriculum

      Davis, Megan K.; Department of Child and Youth Studies (Brock University, 2009-02-16)
      ABSTRACT When asked about the proposal for a black-focused school, black youth from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) voiced their agreement with elements of the proposal, but resisted the idea of implementing the proposal by creating a separate school. Although media representations and Dei (1996, 2006) provide insight into what Torontonians' reactions are to the proposed blackfocused school there has been no such information documented on what black youth in the GTA think about the project. This is the first known study that attempts to fill that gap by providing a representation of black youths' voices obtained via focus groups. The study examines what black youth know and think about the proposal, and why they largely disagree with the blackfocused school proposal. While the findings of this study indicate that the participants saw many positive elements of the proposal, they did not support the implementation of a black-focused school as they saw the creation of a separate space for the school as a negative thing. The youth had trouble conceptualizing 'black-focused schooling' as an alternative approach to mainstream education, which had an impact on whether they choose to, or could, respond to questions that precisely related to the black-focused school project. The study concludes that the youth could not visualize what the school would look like and how it would operate because they draw on liberal racist discourses (e.g. colour-blindness, blaming the victim, and equal opportunity) when thinking about their educational experiences; however, there was a clear contradiction in the way the youths' voices reflected an awareness of the role of race in education experiences. It was evident when they talked about fear of stigmatization, but when using liberal discourses the youth discounted the role of race, and seemed not to be aware of its role in educational experiences. These findings pose important implications for educators, would-be educators, administrators, the TDSB and proponents of the black-focused school.
    • Bridging the Conceptualization of Youth with Intellectual Disabilities to Sentencing under the YCJA

      Jones, Amanda; Department of Child and Youth Studies (Brock University, 2014-04-29)
      The current study examined how disability and the concepts of risk, need and responsivity are understood by criminal justice professionals and inform their perceptions of young offenders with ID at sentencing under the ‘different but equal’ philosophy. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 11 lawyers and 8 mental health workers across 6 major urban areas in Ontario. Participants primarily perceived ID through a medical discourse, overlooking social and structural barriers that, in some cases, may hinder adherence to sentencing dispositions. Specifically, participants discussed balancing the reduced culpability of offenders (e.g., intent) – justifying lenient sentencing – with public safety concerns (i.e., ID viewed as a barrier to rehabilitation) – justifying increasing the severity of sentences. Participants assessed clients with ID and their risks, needs and responsivity within the context of other legal factors: criminal history, severity of the offence, and YCJA objectives. Participants articulated the importance of tailored courthouse identification programs, services/funding, and education/training.
    • Bridging the gap between post-secondary students with disabilities and faculty members with their perceptions of access and accommodation

      Donato, Krystine A.; Department of Child and Youth Studies (Brock University, 2008-06-01)
      The purpose of this study was to identify factors related to successful university course completion for students with disAbilities including the knowledge that faculty members and students with disAbilities have about accommodation issues; the accommodations that students with disAbilities and faculty use and find effective in the university setting; faculty members' perceptions of and attitudes toward students with disAbilities; and the attitudes that students with disAbilities have toward faculty. Fiftyseven participants were involved in the research, eight students with disabilities and forty-nine faculty members. The main objective of the research was to describe how the skills, knowledge, and attitudes of students and faculty members, and organizational supports interact to support students' academic success. The utilization and effectiveness of accommodations to overcome barriers associated with disAbility in a post-secondary setting are described in relation to students' and faculty members' perceptions of academic success.
    • Bringing Zombies Back to Life: An Autoethnographical Exploration of Alienation and Political Dis/Engagement in Emerging Adulthood Within Late-Stage Capitalism

      Wasiak, Joanna; Department of Child and Youth Studies (2013-04-19)
      In this thesis, by employing an autoethnographic methodology, I am exploring why certain understandings, or assemblages, of political engagement come to have greater meaning in my life and why other assemblages may be more hidden and thus fail to contribute substantially to the meaning of political in my life. Using immanent, Marxist and post-Marxist theories, as well as a zombie narrative, the study will contextualize the movement of assemblages in my life within late-stage capitalism which is juxtaposed with the zombie apocalypse. The placement and displacement of certain understandings of the political within my life will be theorized within the crisis of constituent power that is revealed in an immanent framework. Furthermore, the crisis of the constituent in late-stage capitalism creates new forms of radical alienation which will also be examined. By exploring my own struggles in becoming political I will theorize why political disengagement in emerging adulthood appears to be increasing, as well as possibilities for new forms of political engagement in a late-stage capitalist context.
    • Bullying as a social process : factors influencing bystander behaviour

      Kingston, Shauna.; Department of Child and Youth Studies (Brock University, 2008-05-21)
      Bullying was approached as a social phenomenon in the present study. The central aim of this thesis was to uncover some of the factors that contribute to the attitudes and behavioural choices of bystanders during bullying situations. With this type of information, interventions can be tailored to change the behaviour of bystanders during bullying situations, and thus the ethos of the larger group. Thus, acting to alter the available sources of reinforcement for bullying behaviour and peer intervention attempts. Six hundred and twenty-six students participated. Students were sampled from grades 4 (n=140), 5 (n=l 13), 7 (n=205), and 8 (n=168). Students were measured for their involvement in bullying and victimization, as well as for involvement in the following bystander behaviours: encouraging, onlooking, defending, and seeking adult support. In addition, students were measured for tolerance of deviance, pro-victim attitudes, social anxiety and fear, and self-efficacy for peer intervention. Last, students were asked to complete a series of qualitative measures, including a series of hypothetical vignettes and open-ended questions. Analyses centered on the following areas: 1) rates of bullying, victimization, and bystander behaviour; 2) the influence of age and gender on bystander behaviour; 3) the characteristics associated with students who predominantly report involvement with defending, seeking adult assistance, encouraging, and onlooking behaviour; and 4) the influence of past involvement with bullying and victimization on bystander behaviour. b .--' -i . k Rates of bullying, victimization, and bystander behaviour were comparable to findings in the existing literature, where male students were more likely than female students to report involvement in both bullying and victimization. Boys were more likely than girls to report participation in encouraging and onlooking behaviours, while being less likely to report involvement in defending and seeking adult assistance. Partly consistent with existing findings, older students were more likely to report involvement in bullying, encouraging, and onlooking behaviour than younger students, who were more likely to report victimization, defending, and seeking adult assistance. Self-identified encouragers and onlookers reported a similar array of characteristics, in that they tended express high levels of tolerance of deviance, while expressing low levels of pro-victim attitudes and self-efficacy for peer intervention. Likewise, self-identified defenders and seekers of adult assistance tended to report a similar array of characteristics to each other, in that they tended to report low levels of tolerance of deviance, while expressing high levels of pro-victim attitudes and self efficacy for peer intervention. Additionally, self-identified bullies and self-identified bully-victims tended to report increased involvement in encouraging and onlooking, whereas self-identified victims tended to report increased involvement in defending behaviour and seeking adult assistance. Results are discussed in terms of implications for bullying prevention and intervention. Specifically, evidence from the present study suggests that as bystanders, students predominantly act to either support bullying acts or to support the victims of these acts, or alternatively, to actively remain outside bullying situations. Thus, encouraging students to make small changes in the way they express these sentiments during bullying situations would act to alter the culture of the larger peer group and the sources of reinforcement available for bullying acts as well as peer intervention attempts.
    • Bullying, cyberbullying & sexuality: “Everyone needs a good friend”

      Spring, Mary; Department of Child and Youth Studies (Brock University, 2014-03-24)
      Bullying is a pervasive social issue that occurs in numerous contexts and is particularly recognized in populations that are easily targeted. Individuals who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Questioning (LGBQ) are at an increased risk of victimization. Using mixed methodology involving 40 participants (N= 20) LGBQ and (N = 20) non-LGBQ and 10 subsequent in-depth interviews, this study examined prevalence rates of (cyber)bullying on the basis of sexual orientation. Results indicate a high frequency of direct and indirect bullying of LGBQ as compared to non-LGBQ youth. Ten interviews revealed themes that precipitate victimization such as the lack of understanding of LGBQ issues, educational shortfalls, societal and stereotypical beliefs. Results highlight the importance and need of formal and informal support (i.e. peer and online support).
    • Capacity to Attend to the Needs of Persons with Dual Diagnoses in the Criminal Justice System: Views of Mental Health and Criminal Justice Professionals

      Christina, Fergus; Department of Child and Youth Studies (Brock University, 2014-08-29)
      Currently, individuals with intellectual disabilities are overrepresented within the Criminal Justice System (Griffiths, Taillon-Wasmond & Smith, 2002). A primary problem within the Criminal Justice System is the lack of distinction between mental illness and intellectual disabilities within the Criminal Code. Due to this lack of distinction and the overall lack of identification procedures in the Criminal Justice System, individuals with disabilities will often not receive proper accommodations to enable them to play an equitable role in the justice system. There is increasing evidence that persons with intellectual disabilities are more likely than others to have their rights violated, not use court supports and accommodations as much as they should, and be subject to miscarriages of justice (Marinos, 2010). In this study, interviews were conducted with mental health (n=8) and criminal justice professionals (n=8) about how individuals with dual diagnosis are received in the Criminal Justice System. It was found that criminal justice professionals lack significant knowledge about dual diagnosis, including effective identification and therefore appropriate supports and accommodations. Justice professionals in particular were relatively ill-prepared in dealing effectively with this population. One finding to highlight is that there is misunderstanding between mental health professionals and justice professionals about who ought to take responsibility and accountability for this population.
    • Caregiver Stress: An Exploration of Stressors and Coping Strategies Among Young Carers

      Sexton, Cayleigh; Department of Child and Youth Studies
      Young carers (YCs) are children and youth who take on extra responsibilities within their home due to a family member having a physical disability, chronic illness, mental health issues, addiction issues, or parental absence (Aldridge & Becker, 1993; Charles, Stainton, & Marshall, 2008; Stamatopoulos, 2015). YCs may experience increased stress levels and negative psychosocial outcomes due to their caregiving role (Charles et al., 2008; Collins & Bayless, 2013; Frank, Tatum, & Tucker, 1999; Lakman & Chalmers, 2018; Sahoo & Suar, 2010). Objective: This study sought to identify key stressors and coping strategies used by YCs and to determine if coping can moderate the relation between stress and negative outcomes. Methods: A sample of 58 YCs completed self-report questionnaires on stress, coping, self-esteem, depressive symptoms, anxiety, and loneliness. Results: YCs most frequently cited stressors related to recognition of their YC role within and outside of their family. Other stressors included school impacts and social impacts. YCs most frequently used disengagement coping strategies (e.g., wishful thinking or social withdrawal) and less frequently used engagement coping strategies (e.g., problem solving or seeking social support). The results revealed coping did not moderate the relation between stress and the examined negative outcomes within this sample. Implications: The results suggest the need for recognition and validation for YCs and the development of coping skill development programs so that YCs can learn how to cope using more proactive ways such as problem solving and seeking social support.
    • A Case Study of the "Who is NOBODY?" Project: A Character Development Program for Children with Learning Disabilities

      Miller, Ashley; Department of Child and Youth Studies (Brock University, 2014-02-21)
      This research study explored a support system for children with learning disabilities. The Learning Disabilities Association of Niagara Region (LDANR) recently expanded its Better Emotional and Social Times (B.E.S.T.) program to incorporate an innovative, character education initiative called the “Who is NOBODY?” program. The objective of this qualitative case study was two-fold. First, the study aimed to support the LDANR in assessing the efficacy of the “Who is NOBODY?” program, providing the LDANR with empirical support for their programs. Second, the study enabled a more in-depth understanding of how to best support children with LD in regards to their social and emotional well-being. The study explored the “Who is NOBODY?” program through three lenses: design, implementation, and experiences of participating children. Three primary themes emerged from these three data lenses: positive character traits, prosocial behaviour, and strong self-efficacy – leading to the promotion of strong character development and self-esteem. Taken together, the “Who is NOBODY?” program was shown to be a successful remediation program for supporting vulnerable children with LD.
    • Children's rights in rural Punjab : the story of a border-dweller

      Bal, Jaspreet; Department ofChild and Youth Studies (Brock University, 2010-10-26)
      There is currently a disconnect between the universal and general children's rights as presented in the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of the Child and the lived experiences of children in various countries. This thesis uses the authors' struggle to exist between two cultures as a lens through which the disconnect is explored. The author returns to her village in Punjab and looks at spaces created for children through institutions such as the education system and spaces that children create on their own. Luhmann's social systems theory is used to critique anti-humanist institutions and systems. As an alternative to Luhmann, H~dt and Negri's concept of the multitude is explored to provide insight into the political spaces that children create for themselves.
    • Closing the Summer Learning Gap for Vulnerable Children: An Examination of a Summer Family Literacy Program for Junior Kindergarten Children At-Risk for Reading Difficulties

      Woodham, Meghan; Department of Child and Youth Studies (2013-04-19)
      The learning gap created by summer vacation creates a significant breach in the learning cycle, where student achievement levels decrease over the course ofthe summer (Cooper et aI., 2000). In a review of 39 studies, Cooper and colleagues (1996) specified that the summer learning shortfall equals at least one month loss of instruction as measured by grade level equivalents on standardized test scores. Specifically, the achievement gap has a more profound effect on children as they grow older, where there is a steady deterioration in knowledge and skills sustained during the summer months (Cooper et aI., 1996; Kerry & Davies, 1998). While some stakeholders believe that the benefits of a summer vacation overshadow the reversing effect on achievement, it is the impact of the summer learning gap on vulnerable children, including children who are disadvantaged as a result of requiring special educational needs, children from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and children learning English as a second language, that is most problematic. More specifically, research has demonstrated that it is children's literacy-based skills that are most affected during the summer months. Children from high socioeconomic backgrounds recurrently showed gains in reading achievement over the summer whereas disadvantaged children repeatedly illustrate having significant losses. Consequently, the summer learning gap was deemed to exaggerate the inequality experienced by children from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Ultimately, the summer learning gap was found to have the most profound on vulnerable children, placing these children at an increased chance for academic failure. A primary feature of this research project was to include primary caregivers as authentic partners in a summer family literacy program fabricated to scaffold their children's literacy-based needs. This feature led to the research team adapting and implementing a published study entitled, Learning Begins at Home (LBH): A Research-Based Family Literacy Program Curriculum. Researchers at the Ontario Institute designed this program for the Study of Education, University of Toronto. The LBH program capitalized on incorporating the flexibility required to make the program adaptable to meet the needs of each participating child and his or her primary caregiver. As it has been well documented in research, the role primary caregivers have in an intervention program are the most influential on a child's future literacy success or failure (Timmons, 2008). Subsequently, a requirement for participating in the summer family literacy program required the commitment of one child and one of his or her primary caregivers. The primary caregiver played a fundamental role in the intervention program through their participation in workshop activities prior to and following hands on work with their child. The purpose of including the primary caregiver as an authentic partner in the program was to encourage a definitive shift in the family, whereby caregivers would begin to implement literacy activities in their home on a daily basis. The intervention program was socially constructed through the collaboration of knowledge. The role ofthe author in the study was as the researcher, in charge of analyzing and interpreting the results of the study. There were a total of thirty-six (36) participants in the study; there were nineteen (19) participants in the intervention group and seventeen (17) participants in the control group. All of the children who participated in the study were enrolled in junior kindergarten classrooms within the Niagara Catholic District School Board. Once children were referred to the program, a Speech and Language Pathologist assessed each individual child to identify if they met the eligibility requirements for participation in the summer family literacy intervention program. To be eligible to participate, children were required to demonstrate having significant literacy needs (i.e., below 25%ile on the Test of Preschool Early Literacy described below). Children with low incident disabilities (such as Autism or Intellectual Disabilities) and children with significant English as a Second Language difficulties were excluded from the study. The research team utilized a standard pre-test-post-test comparison group design whereby all participating children were assessed with the Test of Preschool Early Literacy (Lonigan et aI., 2007), and a standard measure of letter identification and letter sound understanding. Pre-intervention assessments were conducted two weeks prior to the intervention program commencing, and the first set of the post-intervention assessments were administered immediately following the completion of the intervention program. The follow-up post-intervention assessments took place in December 2010 to measure the sustainability of the gains obtained from the intervention program. As a result of the program, all of the children in the intervention program scored statistically significantly higher on their literacy scores for Print Knowledge, Letter Identification, and Letter Sound Understanding scores than the control group at the postintervention assessment point (immediately following the completion of the program) and at the December post-intervention assessment point. For Phonological Awareness, there was no statistically significant difference between the intervention group and the control at the postintervention assessment point, however, there was a statistically significant difference found between the intervention group and the control group at the December post-intervention assessment point. In general, these results indicate that the summer family literacy intervention program made an immediate impact on the emergent literacy skills of the participating children. Moreover, these results indicate that the summer family literacy intervention program has the ability to foster the emergent literacy skills of vulnerable children, potentially reversing the negative effect the summer learning gap has on these children.
    • Closing the summer learning gap for vulnerable junior kindergarten students

      Graham, Ashley; Department ofChild and Youth Studies (Brock University, 2011-03-08)
      Under current academic calendars across North America, summer vacation creates a significant gap in the learning cycle. I t has been argued that this gap actually decreases student achievement levels over the course of the summer. In a synthesis of 39 studies Cooper, Nye, Charlton, Lindsay, & Greathouse (1996) indicated that summer learning loss equaled at least one month of instruction as measured by grade level equivalents on standardized test scores whereby children's test scores were at least one month lower when they returned to school in the fall than scores were when students left in the summer. Specifically, Cooper et aI., (1996) found that the summer learning loss phenomena may be particularly troublesome for less advantaged children including those with speech and language delays, children at-risk for reading disabilities, children from lower socio-economic backgrounds, and children learning English as a second language. In general, research illustrated clearly that the summer learning gap can be particularly problematic for vulnerable children and furthermore, that literacy skills may be the area of achievement that is most affected. A foundational pillar to this research project is including primary caregivers as authentic partners in a summer literacy program designed to support their children's literacy needs. This pillar led the research team to use the Learning Begins at Home: A Research-Based Family Literacy Program Curriculum designed by Antoinette Doyle, Kathleen Hipfner-Boucher, and Janette Pelletier from the Ontario Institute for the Studies of Education. The LBH program is designed to be flexibly adapted to suit the needs of each individual participating family. As indicated by Timmons (2008) literacy interventions are most powerful when they include authentic family involvement. Based on this research, a requirement for participating in the summer literacy program was involvement of a child and one of their primary caregivers. The participating caregiver was integrally involved in the program, participating in workshop activities prior to and following hands-on literacy work with their child. By including primary caregivers as authentic partners, the research team encouraged a paradigmatic shift in the family whereby literacy activities become routine within their household. 5 Participants in this study were 14 children from junior kindergarten classrooms within the Niagara Catholic District School Board. As children were referred to the program, they were assessed by a trained emergent literacy specialist (from Speech Services Niagara) to identify whether they met the eligibility requirements for participation in the summer program. To be eligible to participate, children demonstrated significant literacy needs (i.e. below 25%ile on the Test of Preschool Early Literacy described below). Children with low incidence disabilities (i.e. profound sensory impairments, severe intellectual impairments, developmental disabilities, etc) were excluded as participants. The research team used a standard pre- and posttest design whereby all participating children were assessed with the Test of Preschool Early Literacy (Lonigan et aI., 2007), and a standard measure of letter names and sounds. Pretests were administered two weeks prior to the commencement of the program and the first set of posttests was administered immediately following the program. A second set of posttests was administered in December 2009 to measure the sustainability of the program. As a result of the program, all children scored statistically significantly higher on their literacy scores at the post-program assessment point immediately following the program and also at the Dec-post-program assessment point. These results in general indicated that the summer family literacy program made an immediate impact on the emergent literacy skills of participating children. All participating children demonstrated significant increases in print and phonological awareness as well as their letter sound understanding.