Graphic symbols for all: Using symbols in developing the ability of questioning in young children
Michaelides, Michalis P.
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Purpose: This study aims to investigate the effects of the use of symbols in the development of young children's ability to form questions in mainstream early-childhood education. Hypotheses examined whether the use of graphic symbols help 3. 5-5 year-old students to increase the number of questions and the number of words in the questions asked for a particular subject. Design/methodology/approach: Following an experimental design approach, an experimental (EG) and a control group (CG) of children, matched to age (4:2) and to their ability to make questions (pre-test), attended an instructional programme. The EG used Widgit Symbols and the CG the traditional methods used by educators to teach questioning. Data collection involved pre and post oral assessment tests, which measured the number of questions and the length of questions in role play activities. Findings: Findings of the study showed that symbols have positively affected children's ability to make questions. The EG scored higher than the CG on variables examined, and the within groups improvement (pre to post test) was again higher for the EG. Research limitations/implications: The paper discusses some possibilities of a lengthier implementation of the use of symbols and their effect on language acquisition. Practical implications: The study raises some considerations about the development of new teaching methodologies with the use of symbols and Information Communication Technology to enhance language development and maximize learning for all learners. Originality/value: Usually emphasis is placed on the use of symbols as a means of assistive technology (AT) for the accommodation of the needs of children with disabilities. This paper is an effort to cover a gap in literature and emphasize on the benefits of AT in general learning environments for all children.