Aims and Purpose of the Proposed Research
Drama remains applicable to the improvement of social skills. It is possible to develop a drama in a distinctive style. These might enable participants to acquire skills in specific areas of social interactions. Through drama, individuals can develop skills such as timing and reciprocity in conversations (Wilkinson 2010, pp. 41). Additionally, other intervention methods usually involve a lot of cognitive loads. Non-verbal and content development intervention methods require a lot of cognitive loads. However, the use of drama can eliminate the need for this load.
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This proposed investigation seeks to discover the benefits of teaching drama to pupils with Asperger’s Syndrome. The project intends to examine the extent to which drama contributes to the development of interaction and communication skills among students with Asperger’s Syndrome. Asperger’s Syndrome is a type of Autism. Individuals with the syndrome exhibit average to the above-average level of intelligence (Baron-cohen 2008, pp. 111). Asperger’s Syndrome relates to conditions such as severe social anxiety and depression.
This study seeks to determine the benefits of teaching drama to students with Asperger’s syndrome. The proposed study focuses on revealing the extent to which drama contributes to the development of interaction and communications skills of these students.
These include some of the basic research questions for the proposed investigation:
- What are the benefits of studying drama for students with Asperger’s syndrome?
- How does drama contribute to the development of social and communication skills?
- How does drama assist individuals in developing social skills?
- How does one feel in social settings before beginning to attend drama classes?
- How does one feel in social settings after enrolling in the drama classes?
Literature Review: Asperger’s syndrome and Drama
There are diverse methods for improving social and communication skills among students with Asperger’s syndrome. Some of these include the non-verbal cue reading and recognition. Other methods employ the use of a combination of strategies and drama. However, studies done to determine the effectiveness of these intervention methods have had inconclusive results.
They have shown that outside therapeutic sessions, students with Asperger’s syndrome continue to exhibit inadequacies of vital social skills (Baron-cohen, S 2008, P. 11). Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome have an average or above-average level of intelligence. However, these individuals do not have well developed social skills. It is a pervasive developmental disorder. It is different from Autism. Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome do not have delays in their speech. They also have well developed cognitive skills.
Most people with Asperger’s syndrome have above average intelligence. They prosper in various fields such as computer programming. They do not experience delays in the development of cognitive skills. Indicatively, they have capabilities of taking care of themselves (Harpur, Lawlor & Fitzgerald 2006, pp. 117). Additionally, these people are usually curious about their environment. They constantly seek to get a clear understanding of how things operate. They tend to ignore all other things or topics and become obsessed with a single issue or object. These individuals have poorly developed social skills.
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In social settings, they struggle with language and speech challenges. They have poor body language and may not respond effectively to other peoples’ remarks or emotions. Furthermore, sarcasm and humour do not make meaning to these individuals. In most cases, they assume the literal meaning of figurative speech. Most of their social relationships fail. This is because they are unemotional and have poor social skills (Baron-cohen, S 2008, P. 31). Various intervention methods are applicable to assist people with Asperger’s syndrome. Some of these interventions include cognitive behaviour therapy and parent training. Occupational therapy is also a method used in these interventions.
Most studies on the management of Asperger’s syndrome focus on the assessment of traditional intervention methods (Harpur, Lawlor & Fitzgerald 2006, pp. 117). Most of these studies provide inconclusive results. This relates to the effectiveness of this social pragmatics. In addition, the focus of most of these studies remains on non-verbal cue reading and recognition.
The studies also major on the decrease of symptoms of conditions that accompany Asperger’s syndrome such as depression (Wilkinson 2010, pp. 100). The investigations provide indications that therapeutic sessions yield positive results. Outside the therapeutic sessions, there is an observable poor application of the learnt social skills. Studies done indicate that these students have several difficulties. These are observable even after undergoing non-verbal intervention sessions.
Certain investigations presently incorporate new interventions. This is due to the recognition to these deficiencies. These have theoretical approaches and are developmentally oriented (Lerner & Levine 2007, pp. 91). Furthermore, they are affectively driven. In this way, these methods respond and improve the non-verbal intervention methods. One such program is the Spotlight. A social pragmatics program is community based.
It involves the use of affectively appealing games and dramas structured to meet requirements of students with Asperger’s syndrome. The methods involve promotion of social reinforcement by development of strong teacher-student and student-students relationships (Lerner & Levine 2007, pp. 91). Additionally, the methods adopt the use of motivators such as video games and physical activities that are not competitive in nature. The use of these methods facilitates the development of social pragmatics skills.
Other intervention models operate within similar background. Some recognise the importance of regulation of emotional processes students undergo in social contexts. Through this, appropriate models of intervention methods are developed. The models mainly focus on development of instrumental social skills (Harpur, Lawlor & Fitzgerald 2006, pp. 117).
These include skills like initiation of conversation and maintenance of the same. Even though they target specific areas of social skills deficits, the methods are effective (Lerner & Levine 2007, pp. 91). They involve the use of drama and incorporate other methods like use of video games. However, studies have not determined the effectiveness of solitary use of drama as an intervention method.
Notably, normal students bully most students with Asperger’s syndrome. This is due to their lack of social skills. Drama classes increase the social competencies and interaction rates amongst these students. In this way, they can make friends due to the similarity of their conditions. Through drama, they can also learn the importance of conversational settings. Dramas usually involve many undertakings. These may include setting of lightings, designing of the stage and use of sounds to depict mood. These give them opportunities to learn how to judge the setting in which they communicate with others. Finally, dramas enable them to perform when they are in actual conversation (Lerner & Levine 2007, pp. 91).
There are important considerations in the design of the methodology for the proposed study. Individuals must recognise the importance of teaching drama to students with social difficulties. Particularly, this applies to me as a head of the drama department within a specialist school for dyslexia and other learning difficulties. Therefore, there is need for an appropriate research method. This knowledge is also pertinent to the society. The proposed study involves the use of a combination of methods in data collection.
This is also applicable in monitoring of students’ progress. Structured questionnaires and open-ended interviews are appropriate in the data collection processes. The questions must revolve around the effectiveness of drama in assisting students with Asperger’s syndrome improve social skills. In addition, data collection must engage the participant observation methodologies (Thomas 2009, pp. 29). This is necessary to enable tracking of progress of a student in drama class. Tracking of progress occurs within a period of six months. Moreover, both the students and their teachers must provide qualitative data.
The proposed study applies general research questions in the collection of data. The use of general research questions assists in the elimination of confusion, ambiguity and biasness (Cryer 2006, pp. 73). The use of enable these students develop social skills. They learn appropriate responses to social situations (Harpur, Lawlor & Fitzgerald 2006, pp. 49).
Drama provides different settings and scenarios. Additionally, the different social situations and scenarios created by dramas allow them to learn responses in ways that do not embarrass. Dramas enable them see the reactions that people make in times of inappropriate responses. Furthermore, it enables them to understand the reasons for individuals’ reactions to inappropriate responses.
It is important to disperse data collection procedures within diverse schools. This is because it alleviates an element of biasness (Bell 2005, pp. 34). Additionally, the use of participant observation also eliminates biasness. The proposed sample includes students with Asperger’s syndrome. The sample size for student participants is averagely one hundred. On the other hand, twenty teachers who educate these students must also participate.
The proposed study enrols students of ages between thirteen and eighteen years. The study also includes students and teachers from the local LEA region. Qualitative data is appropriate for the study. This is because comprehensive information is obtainable. The analysis also remains simple. Additionally, schools in the local LEA region are to be included in the study. This helps to minimize the expenses related to the investigation. The information obtained is of high quality and non-biased. However, the use of general research questions may result in unreliable conclusions (Robson 2002, pp. 48).
General research questions may result in to inconclusive findings. In this case, more studies in the same topic may be appropriate. In addition, conducting the study in a single region may result into the elimination of effects of other social factors. Factors like poverty and wealth, traditions, cultural beliefs may influence the effectiveness of using drama in enhancing social and communication skills (Bell 2005, pp. 56).
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Thus, conducting the study in a single region affects universal applicability of the findings and recommendations. The proposed study takes a period of one year. Mapping, designing of study and preparations may take two months. The following six months involves observation and data collection. Coding, editing and analysis of data occur within two or three months. During this period, adjustments in data and clarifications are necessary. The last two months involve drafting of recommendations and publishing of the findings. The study requires four research assistants.
Observably, not many studies on the influence of drama on students with Asperger’s syndrome exist. Their role is to disperse the questionnaires and conduct the various interviews. Additionally, the research assistants must edit and code data collected. A statistician must also analyse the data and produce all relevant descriptive statistics (Bell 2005, pp. 26). Other proposed study requirements are the stationery, printing papers and publishing materials.
A statistical computer programme is necessary for the analysis of the data. Asperger’s syndrome is detrimental. Observably, it affects the social functioning of many students. Various intervention methods may assist students with the condition to improve their social functioning. These methods are mainly non-verbal. The methods are effective intervention approaches. In therapeutic sessions, students depict improvement in social skills. However, outside the therapeutic sessions, students with the condition continue to exhibit poor social skills. There is an eminent need for more investigation on the effect of this syndrome on student competencies. This elucidates the basic objective of the proposed study.
Anticipated Practical Issues
Many practical issues are observable. Students with the condition are capable of excelling in academics and professional life. They may prosper in technical scientific or technological fields. This may be due to their abilities to concentrate. Another contributing factor is their obsessive nature. However, these students display nonconforming social development.
They have inadequate typical abilities necessary for effective communication. The anticipated deficits relate to deficiencies in social and emotional functioning of these students. Indicatively, non-verbal intervention methods do not incorporate the influence of concurring conditions (Lerner & Levine 2007, pp. 91). Nevertheless, these secondary conditions influence the mastery of social skills among these students.
The result of these deficiencies includes poor social functioning and development. The condition cause social isolation and poor quality of student lives. These students are susceptible to many conditions. There is also high incidence of development of Bipolar disorder among students with Asperger’s Syndrome. These conditions affect the general well functioning in school, social setting and in the society. The intervention methods adopted have focused mainly on non-verbal cue reading and recognition (Bell 2005, pp. 96). These students might also have trouble within social settings. However, dramas enable them to survive actual social setting comfortably. The potential benefits of teaching drama to students with Asperger’s syndrome justify the need for this study.
The proposed study must address all ethical concerns. It is important to observe issues of informed consent on the enrolled participants. The investigator must also respect and practice full confidentiality on the information that is used during the study. Appropriate disclosure of the objectives of the research to the intended participants is applicable. Instead, they should enrol at their own will. It is also necessary to assure the enrolled participants of maximum protection and confidentiality. This enhances their free will to participate in the research (Robson 2002, p. 121).
The process must also entail the disclosure if benefit risks to the potential participants. The ethical observations within the proposed study must meet the ethical standards stipulated by the area professional ethics review committee. In course of the study, certain participants might opt to withdraw. The investigator has to apply the procedures outlined by the ethics committee to ensure safe withdrawal of such participants. Indeed, ethical issues are important and require full consideration during all research processes.
List of References
Baron-cohen, S 2008, Autism and Asperger Syndrome, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Bell, J 2010, Doing your research project: a guide for first-time researchers in education, health and social science, McGraw-Hill Open University Press, Maidenhead.
Cryer, P 2006, The Research Student’s Guide to Success, McGraw-Hill Open University Press, Maidenhead.
Harpur, J, Lawlor, M & Fitzgerald, M 2006, Succeeding with Interventions for Asperger Syndrome Adolescents: A Guide to Communication and Socialisation in Interaction Therapy, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Philadelphia.
Lerner, M & Levine, K 2007, The Spotlight Program: An Integrative Approach to Teaching Social Pragmatics Using Dramatic Principles and Techniques, The Journal of Developmental Processes, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 91.
Robson, C 2002, Real World Research: A Resource for Social Scientists and Practitioner-Researchers, 2nd Edition, Blackwell, Oxford.
Thomas, G 2009, How to do your research project: a guide for students in education and applied social sciences, SAGE Publications, Los Angeles.
Wilkinson, A 2010. A Best Practice Guide to Assessment and Intervention for Autism and Asperger Syndrome in Schools, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London.