Introduction: Situation Summary
Early age education is an essential step in the life of every person. However, societal notions about inclusive education have resulted in general education teachers bearing the responsibility of “educating children with special education needs in the general education classroom” (Miller Kuhaneck and Kelleher, 2018, p. 1). Many students with sensory disabilities are educated in instructional environments that are not adequately equipped, hindering their education and development. Furthermore, few teachers realize the sensory potential of their classroom spaces and know about the impact sensation can have on learning, the emotional development of students, and their behavior (Miller Kuhaneck and Kelleher, 2018). Thus, there is a need to transition from traditional education to one that accounts for students’ sensory needs and promotes community inclusion.
Both internal and external environmental factors play an essential role in providing inclusive education. External circumstances include regional and federal policies, the structure of the social system, and the families of students and their needs and level of involvement in school management and decision-making (Mansur et al., 2021). Meanwhile, internal factors involve the school infrastructure, the curriculum and extracurricular activities, the inclusive operational budget, and the beliefs of educators and administrative staff about the importance of inclusive sensory education (Mansur et al., 2021). All these factors should be taken into consideration when overseeing the change from a traditional education program to an inclusive curriculum with sensory classes.
Proposed Research Study
The proposed consultancy project and research study will focus on the integration of sensory sessions into the primary school curriculum. The primary goal of the research is to investigate the effects of sensory sessions on the education and development of students with and without sensory disabilities. A secondary aim of the study is to establish how exposure to inclusive classrooms and curriculum that caters to the needs of students with sensory issues affects children’s levels of disability prejudice and community inclusion.
The project will aim to achieve several key objectives that will help efficiently incorporate various types of sensory sessions into the primary school program:
- Schools will adjust their curriculum to include sensory lessons.
- Schools will make sensory equipment available and construct several sensory-friendly classrooms and areas for the students.
- Teachers and school administrators will receive additional training on sensory education, creating a sensory-friendly environment in the classroom, and assisting students with different sensory needs.
The scope of the proposed consultancy project and research study can be defined as relatively large as it will include several schools prepared to incorporate sensory learning into the curriculum. The project is necessary as sensory education can substantially enhance students’ educational experience (Miller Kuhaneck and Kelleher, 2018). The consultancy company will support schools during each stage of project implementation in order to deliver the best services both to schools and the students attending them. The project implementation period for educating teachers on sensory sessions and integrating them into the curriculum is approximately 12 months. The services will be delivered on the territory of the schools, with external consultants and coaches being involved in the delivery of the project.
The Rationale for the Proposed Research Study
The proposed consultancy project and research study will address the problem of the children with sensory issues receiving traditional education. It is hypothesized that the inclusion of sensory sessions into the primary school curriculum will contribute to the development of students with sensory disabilities and positively impact students with no sensory issues. Moreover, it is theorized that the integration of sensory education is positively correlated with levels of prejudice and community inclusion.
The benefits of sensory sessions incorporation include a considerable improvement in students reading ability, including enhanced vocabulary selection, vocabulary arrangement, and understanding of new words and short texts (Kim and Kwag, 2021). Sensory sessions and the use of technology contribute to creating a more inclusive environment and positively impact children with tactile over-reactivity and other sensory issues (Bodison and Parham, 2017; Carabajal, Marshall and Atchison, 2017). Thus, there are several crucial benefits to incorporating sensory sessions into the school curriculum, and the impact on students’ sense of inclusion and development is invaluable.
Furthermore, the addition of sensory sessions for both students presenting with and without sensory issues adds strategic value to the schools. Considering the beneficial impact of sensory education on children with different needs, a school that offers students sensory lessons and provides them with sensory-friendly environments potentially has more value to clients. In this case, clients are the children attending such schools and their parents or legal guardians. Thus, educational institutions that offer inclusive education and provide learning that can enhance the development of all children regardless of their mental and physical health are valuable to existing and prospective clients.
Currently, there is a vast body of research literature on the effects of sensory education and sensory engagement on students’ development. Several studies indicate that multi-sensory sessions positively impact cognition, reading skills, and motor, verbal, and nonverbal tasks (Kim and Kwag, 2021; Lambert et al., 2019; Schoen et al., 2018). Sensory-friendly environments can contribute to children presenting with sensory food aversion exhibiting reduced food selectivity and food refusal and contribute to the development of healthy habits (Galpin, Osman and Paramore, 2018; Kähkönen et al., 2018). Furthermore, research illustrates that sensory education is vital as children with sensory disabilities are more likely to be under-responsive in a school environment (Fernández-Andrés et al., 2018).
Thus, sensory sessions and sensory-friendly environments contribute to children with various sensory issues responding better to the learning process and performing better in all classes. In addition, inclusive education translates into the greater social engagement of children with sensory disabilities and decreased rates of social exclusion and inappropriate behavior (Damianidou and Phtiaka, 2017; Van Mieghem et al., 2018). Nevertheless, the discussed literature notes that implementation is not always beneficial, and educators need to be aware of potential barriers.
Both qualitative and quantitative methods will be employed during the implementation of the proposed consultancy project. Questionnaires will be given to educators and parents or guardians to assess their satisfaction with education before implementing the project. In addition, students in classes will be assessed on their reading and speaking skills in order to evaluate how the integration of sensory sessions will affect their learning. Students’ social adjustment will be measured using Goodman’s Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire and Masten’s A Revised Class Play Method to assess the effect of sensory education on social engagement (Khanum, Noureen and Mushtaq, 2018).
Semi-structured interviews with teachers and parents will be held before and 12 months after the introduction of sensory sessions to consider their impressions of sensory education and sensory-friendly environments and their effect on the children. Thus, both quantitative and qualitative data on the effect of sensory sessions on the development of students will be collected.
As the project will involve underage children, several ethical considerations should be discussed. Written informed consent will be collected from the children’s parents or legal guardians. They will be assured that the children’s confidentiality will be protected, and no personal information will be disclosed to third parties. In addition, the results of the program implementation will be shared with the legal representatives of all participants. Furthermore, the parents will be informed that participation in the project is voluntary, and they have the right to withdraw from it or request the results of their children not being used in the research. Overall, it is paramount to be open with the participants’ parents about the purposes of the study and its implications and protect the privacy of the students.
Managing and Presenting Data
The quantitative and qualitative data collected from the participating teachers, students, parents, or legal guardians will be analyzed and presented to all parties, including school administrations. The quantitative data will be presented in comparison charts to ease the understanding of the effect of the introduction of sensory sessions in the curriculum. Specifically, the changes in reading and speaking skills and social engagement and adjustment.
The qualitative data collected from the educator and parent interviews will be thematically analyzed in order to distinguish recurring topics, notions, and patterns. Thematic analysis is necessary to measure the impact of sensory learning on the students and the impression of parties involved in the education process that cannot be measured otherwise. After the collected data is analyzed, it will be sent out to the participants electronically.
The success of the project will be measured on the improvements of students or lack of it in reading and speaking skills and levels of students’ social engagement and adjustment. A medium-to-high average increase in the defined skills and children’s increased ability to participate in social situations will be considered as a positive project outcome. A low-to-medium average increase will also be regarded as a successful result. However, in this case, the research results and the implementation procedures will be further examined to provide more detailed information explaining the results. No significant increase in speaking and reading skills or levels of social involvement will be considered the failure of the project to benefit the students.
The consultancy agency will support the implementation of the project during each of its stages. In order to avoid miscommunication with the clients, the consultant will develop a communication strategy that will include formal and informal communication avenues to ensure that the clients are continuously being informed about the project. The consultant will engage in open communication with all the participating parties.
The project’s governance structure will be discussed and refined prior to its implementation to avoid management issues. The roles of all participants and staff will be defined during the pre-implementation stage. The responsibilities of each position will be determined by the consulting team in consort with the school administration and teachers. Potential risks to the project, such as the sensory sessions not being implemented correctly by the educators, will be addressed before the execution, with strategies mitigating the risk being developed. Overall, these steps will help ensure the successful incorporation of sensory sessions into the school curriculum.
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Carabajal, I., Marshall, A. and Atchison, C. (2017) “A synthesis of instructional strategies in geoscience education literature that address barriers to inclusion for students with disabilities”, Journal of Geoscience Education, 65(4), pp. 531–541. Web.
Damianidou, E. and Phtiaka, H. (2017) “Implementing inclusion in disabling settings: the role of teachers’ attitudes and practices”, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 22(10), pp. 1078–1092. Web.
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