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Title: Exploring the influence of the teacher on support for pupils with selective mutism
Author: Williams, Claire
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2017
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Selective mutism (SM) is a rare condition of early childhood characterised by a lack of speech in certain social situations where it is expected (usually at school). SM shares many characteristics with social anxiety and is associated with a range of academic and social impairments. Several reviews have explored the literature to identify which treatment modality for SM is most effective. These reviews have not considered what factors might moderate outcomes but recent frameworks suggest that informant discrepancies in report measures might potentially moderate the perceived success of an intervention. The present study reviewed 11 studies to explore differences between the perceptions of change in a child's behaviour as reported by parents versus teachers following psychosocial interventions for SM. In the reviewed studies, parents and teachers were asked to independently rate outcomes relating to speech and/or a child's affective state. Patterns in informant discrepancy varied with speech outcomes showing greater informant correspondence than affective outcomes. Implications from these findings include the recommendation that teachers are well positioned to monitor the outcomes of SM interventions and that intervention should be designed to target affective outcomes in addition to speech. Despite the implication that teachers have a significant role to play in intervention relatively little is known about how this group's perceptions of SM impact on the support pupils receive. In order to address this the empirical paper used qualitative, grounded theory methods to construct an explanatory theory to represent primary school teachers' experiences of working with pupils with SM. Eleven participants (3 male) were interviewed following a semi-structured interview approach. Transcripts of each interview were analysed using a social constructionist approach to grounded theory. The theory captured five core categories which linked together to show the key aspects of the participants' experiences. 1) Categorisation: Teachers' beliefs about SM caused them to place the behaviour into specific categories of understanding. 2) Teacher as a Scientific Enquirer: Teachers engaged in a process of enquiry, generating hypotheses and testing them to better understand the pupil. 3) Supporting Pupils: These two processes impacted on the type of support teachers put in place. 4) Measuring and Monitoring: captured the impact of monitoring pupil progress and the teachers' desired outcomes. 5) Responding Emotionally: These interlinked processes produced an emotional response in the teacher. Participants' experiences of the five core categories were influenced by four contextual factors including 1) the Pupil's Profile, 2) their Peer Relationship, 3) the teachers' Staff Relationships and 4) the Staff Self-Identity. The findings suggested that the teacher's categorisation of SM influenced the support they put in place for pupils. Categorisation can be altered through the process of Scientific Enquiry. Teachers need access to accurate information about SM in order to develop their categorisations and improve their support strategies. Educational Psychologists are well-placed to provide support with this.
Supervisor: Hadwin, Julie ; Bishop, Felicity Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available