Title

The effects of social skills training on the writing skills of middle school students with learning disabilities

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Exceptional Student Education

First Advisor's Name

Michael P. Brady

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Marisal Reyes-Gavilan

Third Advisor's Name

Patricia M. Barbetta

Date of Defense

3-20-1996

Abstract

The purpose of the study was to determine if training in social skills in a classroom setting would lead to greater achievement in writing. Fifty-seven children in grades six through eight (ages 11-14) from a predominantly middle-class school in a largely urban school district in South Florida participated in this study. Participation in the study was limited to students who had been evaluated, met diagnostic criteria for learning disabilities and were placed in a learning disabilities language arts class.

Seven dependent variables were measured to evaluate the effects of social skills training (independent variable) on the writing skills of children with learning disabilities. The four writing variables were thematic maturity, syntactic maturity, fluency, and quality of expression. Three social skills measures were parent rating, student rating, and teacher rating of social skills behavior in the classroom. Three tests designed to measure changes in written language development and social skills acquisition and performance were used for pre-testing and post-testing. To assess the writing skills, two assessment instruments were selected: Test of Written Language-2 (TOWL-2) (Hammill & Larsen, 1988) and the Woodcock Psychoeducational Battery Achievement and Supplemental Tests (Woodcock & Johnson, 1990). To assess social skills, Social Skills Rating System (Gresham & Elliott, 1990) was selected.

Areas of significant improvement in the writing measures were syntactic maturity and quality of expression in the experimental group. In the control group, syntactic maturity improved significantly more than in the experimental group. When pre and post test differences were examined for both groups, only syntactic maturity was significant. However, the gain score was greater for the control group than for the experimental group. The students' home language had a significant effect on syntactic maturity but not on any other variable. Thematic maturity approached significance and should be considered when practical applications are discussed.

Examination of the results of the social skills measures revealed that no significant differences were evident in any area. There were no significant effects on the parent, student or teacher rating measures either by the social skills training or the writing instruction. The home language of the students had no effect on the social skills measures.

Identifier

FI15101333

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