Abstracts of Priority Research Project Funded for FY 2011
|Faking It?: Disability Stigma and the Modern American State|
|Perception of Phonological Structure in ASL|
|Qi Wang, Caroline Solomon
|Exploring Blended Instructional Pedagogy to Enhance Student Learning and Scientific Reasoning Skills in Biology|
Historians have offered two primary explanations for why disability has become more stigmatized since the late nineteenth century: the popularity of evolutionary theory and eugenics, and industrialization, with its demand for interchangeable bodies. The monograph I propose, Faking It?: Disability Stigma and the Modern American State, will offer a third explanation for why disability has become more stigmatized over the past 140 years. Throughout the development of the welfare state, with new laws and programs to accommodate people with disabilities, there has been an accompanying discourse that often focuses on fear of people faking a disability in order to take advantage of benefits. This fear existed before the creation of welfare programs, but became much more prominent in the twentieth century. It has increased the stigma of disability and affected everything from Hollywood films to personal accusations in everyday encounters. This will study the history of many of the institutions and public discourses that have shaped the lives and affected the views of deaf people in the modern era.
The study investigates how language experience and parameters of phonological structure like handshape, location, and movement affect perception in American Sign Language (ASL). To examine perception, the study uses two experimental techniques in psycholinguistics: primed lexical decision and primed phonological matching. In the first technique, participants judge whether the second sign of a pair is real or nonce. The question is whether the first sign facilitates performance if the two signs share a parameter in common. In the second, novel technique, participants judge whether two signs produced by different signers are the same. The question here is whether participants can detect when the two signs differ slightly in one of the parameters. To evaluate the effects of language experience, performance on these tasks are compared across both Deaf and hearing individuals in three groups: those exposed to ASL from birth; those exposed to ASL after five years of age; and those with no prior
ASL exposure. The significance of the study lies in addressing several priority areas: it identifies aspects of linguistic structure prominent in perception (Priority 8) and determines the degrees of signed language fluency with respect to perception, which can be applied toward language assessment
Instruction of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) content has always been challenging for Gallaudet University's (GU) undergraduate programs which serve deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) students who primarily depend upon visual sensory inputs to process information. Several major factors related to STEM subject matters and the university's unique instructional environment have adversely affected student learning delivered through traditional one-pace-fits-all classroom lectures. These factors include DHH students' general lack of prior scientific content knowledge, practice-based skill acquisition in STEM fields that requires learning labs to replicate real-world environment, lack of a universal signing standard, extensive use of fingerspelling in signed lectures, and learners with significantly diverged capability due to GU's liberal undergraduate admission policy. This three-semester multiple case study, proposed to address GU's Research Priority 4—Teaching, Learning and the Communication Environment, is to explore an e-Learning and classroom instruction blended learning pedagogy with DHH biology majors and to examine its associated factors that may influence student comprehension and scientific reasoning skills in Biology, one of the most popular STEM disciplines on campus. The investigation will replicate and expand the instructional design and research framework derived from a multiple-case study which explored blended learning design and individualized instructional delivery with students in Computer Information Systems classes (Wang, 2006). The preliminary findings of the limited experiment (in length and scope) were positive. However, additional studies with a more systematic approach and different target learners in other STEM disciplines are called for to gain further insights on the technology-supported blended learning phenomenon, to test the premise that this alternative learning paradigm can improve DHH student learning of STEM subjects, and to accumulate instructional design and delivery experiences that can be applied to other STEM disciplines.
[Last modified: 2011.12.05 16:50:38. by Kevin Cole]