Objectives of the study:
To determine whether the comprehensive Integrated Intervention strategy targeted at the slow learners facilitate a significant gain in their academic performance.
To determine whether the comprehensive Integrated Intervention targeted at slow learners facilitate a significant change in the psychological characteristics, such as self- perception, self- efficacy, temperament, socio-emotional adjustment and intrinsic motivation of slow learners.
To arrive at an empirical based profile of slow learners before and after the Integrated Intervention.
To what extent the Integrated Intervention targeted at the slow learners facilitate to enhance the academic performance?
How and in what ways does an aggregation of the three components of Integrated Intervention such as (1) individual skill development program consisting of training in Graphic Organizers, Mindfulness Meditation and Mnemonics, (2) Teachers Expectation and (3) Practicing Progressive Muscle Relaxation techniques affect the slow learners academic performance?
To what extent the Integrated Intervention facilitate to have a considerable level of gain in certain psychological factors such as self- efficacy, self- perception, socio-emotional adjustment, temperament, intrinsic motivation and academic performance levels?
H1: The experimental group of slow learners which had been exposed to the Integrated Intervention will show more improvement in the academic performance of Biology subject than the control group.
H2: The experimental group of slow learners which had been exposed to the Integrated Intervention will show more improvement in the academic performance of History subject (Social Science) than the control group.
H3: The experimental group of slow learners which had been exposed to the Integrated Intervention will show more improvement in Academic Self- Efficacy than the control group.
H4: The experimental group of slow learners which had been exposed to the Integrated Intervention will show more improvement in Self- Perception than the control group.
H5: The experimental group of slow learners which had been exposed to the Integrated Intervention will show more improvement in Socio-Emotional Adjustment than the control group.
H6: The experimental group of slow learners which had been exposed to the Integrated Intervention will show more improvement in Temperament than the control group.
H7: The experimental group of slow learners which had been exposed to the Integrated Intervention will show more improvement in Intrinsic Motivation than the control group.
The total sample comprised of 60 slow learners as experimental group studying in 9th standard in government and government aided high schools in Coimbatore District, TamilNadu and another matching 60 slow learners of the same schools as control group. In order to have the homogeneity in the sample size, they were matched for age, gender, IQ, mother tongue, socio-economic status etc. The slow learners will be selected using the following three screening methods,
Academic Achievement: Only those students who scored less than 50 % of marks in all the subjects consistently during their monthly and quarterly examination.
Teachers Assessment: Teachers rating on children's overall performance in class room and found to be dull or below average had also been used to identify as slow learners.
Intelligence Tests: The Standard Progressive Matrices (SPM) developed by Raven et al, (2000a) would be used to assess the level of intelligence. The students who scored below 25th percentile would be categorized as slow learners.
The Ravens Standard Progressive Matrices (SPM) (Raven, 2000 a)
Objective Academic Performance collected from the school records
Academic Self-Efficacy scale developed by Muris (2001)
Harter's Self-Perception Profile (Harter, 1985) to assess Self-Perception
Child Behavior Scale developed by Ladd and Profilet (1996) to assess Socio-emotional adjustment
Malhotra's Temperament Schedule (MTS) developed by Savita Malhotra and Anil Malhotra (1988).
Intrinsic Motivation Inventory (IMI) developed by Ryan (1982)
A Pretest Post-test Randomized Control Group Experimental Group Research Design was followed to assess the effects of the Integrated Instruction on the academic performance and other psychological indices of slow learners.
Experimental Group: A group of 60 slow learners had been given an exposure of a specially designed integrated intervention program for the duration of six weeks period of time.
Control Group: Another group of 60 slow learners had been kept as control group. No such exposure to intervention would be given for this group.
In order to control the influence of certain extraneous factors, it was ensured that all the conditions were kept constant throughout the experiment for both groups. Due care was taken to ensure the validity of the research design. However, the maturation levels and other exposures available outside were the major problems for internal validity.
Statistical Techniques used:
At the pretest phase the experimental group and control group of slow learners where compared using an independent sample t test to ensure that the two groups of slow learners were homogeneous prior to the intervention. Gain Score Analyses (GSA) was carried out to measure the effects on the Integrated Intervention on slow learner’s academic performance and other criterion variables. Subsequent to the Integrated Intervention a paired sample t test was used to measure the changes in mean scores from pretest to post test for both the experimental and control group. Further, the gain score acquired by the experimental group and control group of slow learners were compared using an independent sample t test to ensure that the effects of the Integrated Intervention
were significant and specific to the experimental group of slow learners. In addition to the test of significance, effect sizes were calculated to measure the relative magnitude of the experimental treatment using Cohen's d.
Academic Performance: Integrated Intervention in addition to conventional classroom teaching was effective in improving the academic performance in Biology (Science) and History- Social Science (Arts) of slow learning students in the 9th standard. This might be due to imparting knowledge through graphic organizers which are lucid and illustrative. Use of mnemonics and mindfulness meditation would have resulted in enhanced recall and attention respectively.
Academic Self-Efficacy: The Academic Self-Efficacy of slow learning students improved significantly subsequent to the Integrated Intervention. Since slow learners were taught new skills in learning academic material, their self-perceptions about their abilities to deal with academic activities and demands would have increased. The Integrated Intervention had two problem focused strategies that would have led the slow learners to reappraise their threatful perceptions of academic activities through skill improvements.
Self- Perception: Slow learners showed significant improvements in the Scholastic Competence and Global Self-worth dimensions. Other dimensions such as Social Acceptance and Parent Support did not project any significant change post intervention. Having been provided with aids such as graphic organizers, mnemonics, mindfulness meditation and relaxation techniques; which resulted in improved Academic Self-Efficacy might have kindled slow learning students to perceive themselves as more scholastically competent. This might have had a significant impact upon their enhanced global self-worth as well.
Socio-Emotional Adjustment: Respondents showed significant reduction and improvement in Anxious Fearful and Hyper- Active Distractible dimensions, and Pro-Social behavior respectively. However, dimensions such as Aggressive with peers, Anti- Social with peers, and excluded by peers did not show any significant change after intervention. Use of Progressive Relaxation Techniques would have resulted in acquisition of relaxed and calm state which is inconsistent with anxiety and fear. Such an environment would be an ideal breeding ground for Pro-Social Behavior.
Temperament: Statistical analysis had shown marked improvements in Sociability and Attentivity. However, there were no significant changes in dimensions such as Emotionality, Energy and Rhythmicity. Increased attentivity might be due to the impact of Mindfulness Meditation whose effect on improving attention has been well documented. Moreover the inter-personal relationships with the peer groups and teachers, facilitated by the Integrated Intervention strategy, would have enhanced the Sociability dimension.
Intrinsic Motivation: Slow learners showed significant improvements in certain key dimensions of intrinsic motivation such as Perceived Competence dimension and effort/Importance dimension. A significant reduction in Pressure/ Tension dimension was reported by the slow learners subsequent to the Integrated Intervention. However, there was no significant improvement in the overall intrinsic motivation. The Integrated Intervention consisted of graphic organizers and mnemonics as active problem focused coping strategies, this would have helped the slow learners to alter their ability beliefs and made them expend more effort as both these strategies were comparatively easy to learn and apply. Mindfulness Meditation would have facilitated emotional coping, thereby reducing subjective feelings of pressure and tension.
The major implications of this study shall be found in the effectiveness of the Integrated Intervention towards facilitating slow learner’s better coping with their day-to-day school activities by enhancing their academic as well as adaptive behavioral responses. The successful implementation of Integrated Intervention comprising of Graphic Organizers, Mnemonics Methods, Mindful Meditation and Relaxation Techniques in a systematic manner as a part of or as an additive to regular classroom teaching has significant implications for students, teachers and policy makers.
The Integrated Intervention strategy can be employed as a part of instruction facilitating improvements in academic achievement for slow learning students as well as for their better performing peers.
Implication of this advantage is that it does away with any remote chance of discrimination amongst the students, which goes a long way in enhancing the self- confidence of slow learners.
The incorporation of the Integrated Intervention strategies in day-to-day teaching and learning activities can be done with a minimum of time, energy and cost. The simplicity of the strategy, ease of use, and strong theoretical foundations makes it all the more appealing.
As graphic organizer tend to organize information from linear to non-linear forms involving multiple senses in encoding information, the slow learner will have multiple cues for retrieving the learned information very quickly.
A notable observation made as part of the study is that graphic organizers not only facilitate academic performance, but also contributes extensively to certain key psychological variables relating to the self-efficacy levels of an individual.
The ability of the strategy in improving certain psychological factors over and above academic achievement contributes to the existing pool of empirical research studies.
A two or three day workshop can be organized exclusively for the teachers to prepare a set of graphic organizers for each lesson in simple and effective manner.
The concerned class teacher or subject teacher must customize the Integrated Intervention to the slow learners as additional supportive pedagogical techniques.
Knowledge is power' and it is more so true in the given scenario of advances in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), While the graphic organizers help in the way the information is being processed, various Mnemonic techniques imparted during intervention program help in better storage and retrieval of the information. These Mnemonic techniques shall be well made a part of the curriculum itself so that all students would be benefited irrespective of the initiative of the teacher’s.
Although the training in Jacobson's Progressive Muscle Relaxation techniques and Mindfulness Meditation are meant for maintaining calm and relaxed state, and enhancing concentration respectively, they also facilitate enhancing emotional resilience and taking clear perspective of the events.
Most of the modern pedagogical methodologies such as Smart Class rooms make use of expensive paraphernalia like projectors, tablets, custom designed software etc. As most of the Government and Government Aided Schools which have the limited resources in both urban and rural areas, cost factors will be a major hindrance in implementing new methodologies
Since it is estimated that around 6-8% of the school students happened to be slow learners in any class room, targeting at the slow learners must be planned just at the beginning of the academic year to get the desirable results.
The present DE-facto process of promoting to higher grades without developing their competencies poses an additional risk of failing and dropping out from school at 10th grade. Hence, creating a well-defined system of developing a session plan incorporating the Integrated Intervention in the class proceedings is essential for earlier identification and promotion.
Students who have high self-efficacy beliefs are likely to have high confidence in their abilities to successfully perform their academic tasks and set mastery goals. Hence, the concerned stake holders must evolve suitable strategies to cultivate self-efficacy beliefs among the slow learners.
Once the slow learners perceive that they are performing well or becoming more skillful, the self-generated interest in learning activities is likely to be triggered faster. The intervention programs have to be organized periodically to sustain the pace.
It is well known that mindfulness training may increase student's ability to selectively focus their attention on their academic activities during their class room proceedings. Consequently, their response to the queries raised by the teachers/peer group members may also increase quite significantly.
Earlier identification of students who require academic support and adapting teaching methodologies to suit the varied needs of students make it imperative that new systems and techniques should evolve from the short comings of existing ones. The onus is on the teachers who have to be sensitized about the responsiveness of their responsibilities
The positive impact of Pygmalion effect is already well entrenched in our minds. The Teachers' Mentoring Program provided for in this study also reiterates the significance of positive outlook held by them. Moreover, positive outlook about the students has to go hand in hand with the study material, in terms of understanding, conceptual clarity, comprehension and their strategy towards applying it for children of varied abilities.
Once the class teachers acquired the techniques of conveying positive expectations and the nature of extending psychological support, the slow learners are rather more comfortable in facing any demands of learning new academic and interpersonal skills than being fearful and anxious about their studies.
All the above can be achieved only if they are aptly incorporated in the Teacher Training Process. This implies the imminent need to focus on developing teachers' awareness, attitude and competencies to deal with children who are differently able in their regular classroom.
Careful monitoring of the child's learning styles and the encouragement of a broad range of learning strategies remain important characteristics of effective teaching for all children. This highlights the need to concentrate on the teacher- taught ratio in India which is abysmally poor hovering around 1:50.
The study is more relevant in the modern scenario where inclusive classrooms are encouraged either because of ethical concerns or because of economic constraints.
Keyword(s): Slow learners, Academic Performance, Self- Perception, Self- Efficacy, Temperament, Socio-Emotional Adjustment, Intrinsic Motivation