According to the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) an individual functioning in a specific domain results from an interaction between health condition and contextual factors. Learning and Applying Knowledge is the first domain of the ICF Activities and Participation component list. The ICF environment factor e-130 Products and Technology for Education includes products, processes, methods and technology used for acquisition of knowledge including those adapted or specially designed as assistive products and technology for education.
This research analyses learning environment factors and personal factors that may influence individual capacity and performance, and may be related to ADs, instructional methods and psychosocial state of the student. The study is limited to students with impairments of arms and hands that use ADs for learning ICTs.
Motor impairments, Learning Processes, Assistive Devices, PIADS, Taxonomies of educational objectives, ICF Contextual factors.
According to ICF, individual functioning in a specific domain results from an interaction between health condition, environment and personal factors. The Activities and Participation component includes 9 domains that cover the full range of daily living situations. Performance and Capacity are the qualifiers for all the domains and Learning and Applying Knowledge appears as the first domain of the ICF list. Additionally ICF describes 5 categories of environment factors that may influence functioning of an individual in the 9 domains. The first category is Products and Technology that includes Products and Technology for Education that refers to equipment, products, processes, methods and technology used for acquisition of knowledge including those adapted or specially designed as assistive products and technology for education. Performance is how the person does an activity in his current environment and capacity the individual's ability to execute in a normalized environment that will neutralize the varying impacts of different environments on his/her ability. Both qualifiers can be applied with and without assistive devices (1).
Contextual factors for Learning ICT topics include computers, programs, applications, digital material, and assistive devices for computer access. Personal factors are not described by ICF, but all the pedagogical theories state that psychosocial and affective state of the student influence his/her Learning.
Assistive devices and the accessibility of applications and course materials compensate some activity limitations. But there are more limitations when using computers with non-standardized input devices.
Rogers & Muller (2) indicate that interaction with computer systems that use sensors as input devices needs to be redefined to improve their usability. According to Draffan & Rainger (3) the design of course material has to consider the needs of the students that use assistive devices to avoid the need of these students to elaborate during the course complicated strategies that involve cognitive, affective and physical capacities.
This research has the objective to identify and evaluate the negative influences on Learning ICT subjects of students with severe impairments in hands and arms that relates with their use of AD for computer access, characteristics of the programs, applications and course materials, psychosocial state of the students and relationships between them. To identify those factors in current learning environments and to construct a normalized learning environment to measure learning capacity of these students, some instruments has been developed and applied.
The research has not concluded, but the two finished phases have provided insights about functioning of these students in current leaning environments.
The research has been organized in three phases: Phase 0: Preparation, Phase I: Analyse of current learning environments and construction of a normalized leaning environment and Phase II: Data collection, analysis, conclusions and recommendations.
The Phase 0: Preparation, has the purpose to develop some instruments that will identify activity limitations already known that were originated by interventions that are outside of the scope of this research: AD prescription and risks of AD abandonment, insufficient accessibility and usability of programs, applications and course materials.
The Phase I: Analyse of current environment and construction of a normalized learning environment has the purpose to identify contextual factors with negative influence on student performance and to develop additional instruments to neutralize their varying impact in learning. In this phase it was also included definition of student samples with different health states that will participate in Phase II and development of additional instruments for data analysis.
The Phase II: Data collection, analysis and conclusions has the purpose to collect the learning outcomes of the student samples in a normalized learning environment, to identify additional contextual factors that influence learning when using AD to make courses and to elaborate final conclusions and recommendations for the design and planning of ICT courses.
The results of Phase 0 are some instruments to identify and measure contextual factors that influence learning activities:
During Phase I, those instruments were applied in three learning environments that offered similar education programs of 9 months in Information Technology Fundamentals, Office Suite Applications, Graphic Edition and Desktop Publishing resulting the following findings:
The data of the Phase I indicate that some contextual and personal factors with negative influence in learning in current environments may be detected and eliminated before the students begun to study.
PIADS facilitate to identify which psychosocial state is related with the perception of the student about his/her capacity to complete the course.
Learnability may be facilitated using the Taxonomies of the three domains to evaluate the complexity of educational tasks and to identify also additional learning processes that different students may need to do.
This research has been done during a Doctoral Thesis in Software Engineering. The scope and quantitative data has been limited. Additional research is needed to confirm or modify these findings.
We thank PhD. Jeff Jutai of University Western Ontario for his help and generosity contribution to this phD Thesis facilitating the Spanish conceptualization of PIADS.
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