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Title: "I need to hear and speak and do" : an exploration of the self-efficacy of teaching assistants supporting pupils with autism in mainstream primary schools
Author: Lombardi, Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 6349 1986
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2016
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The number of children with autism (ASD) within UK schools is significant. 25.9% of pupils with a Statement of Special Educatonal Needs (SEN) or Education Health Care (EHC) plan have Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) identified as a primary need (DfE. 2016). Children in primary schools with ASD might be supported by teaching assistants (TAs) despite research which indicates that when this support is not appropriately planned or targeted, attainment might be reduced (Blatchford, Bassett, Brown, Martin et al. 2009; Farrell, Alborz, Howes, & Pearson, 2010) Self-efficacy (SE) impacts upon the way in which people feel, think and behave (Bandura, 1977). Four main sources of information for SE beliefs are postulated by Bandura (1997): mastery experiences; vicarious experiences; verbal or social persuasions; and physiological and affective states. Previous research has assessed SE in teachers of pupils with autism (Ruble, Toland, Birdwhistell, McGrew et al., 2013), TAs supporting pupils with ASD in secondary schools (Symes & Humphrey, 2011), and SE in TAs (Higgins & Gulliford, 2014), but there is no published research which examines SE in TAs supporting children with ASD in primary schools. A mixed methods design was employed to explore the SE of TAs using a three-phase approach. First, a focus group (N=8) was used to gain an understanding of the construct of SE in TAs supporting children with ASD. The data were then used to adapt the Autism Self Efficacy Scale for Teachers (ASSET) questionnaire (Ruble et al., 2013) producing a 36-item domain-specific tool for use with a wider population. This measure, named the TASCA (Teaching Assistants Supporting Children with Autism), was completed by 50 TAs. Phase 3 used semi-structured interviews with the 2 TAs gaining highest and 2 gaining lowest SE scores on the TASCA, in order 15 to provide further rich data in relation to the construct. Data were then thematically analysed in relation to Bandura’s (1997) four sources of SE. The TASCA questionnaire proved to be a highly reliable measure and warrants further development in line with the item analysis. The qualitative data identified that, in line with previous research literature, the role of the TA supporting a child with ASD remains ill-defined, training and support is low, and staff rely upon ad hoc approaches to manage the child on behalf of the teacher. The role can prove challenging, and emotional demands are significant. The implications of the findings for Educational Psychology practice and future research are considered.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Ed.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF Psychology