Understanding Orientation and Mobility learning and teaching for primary students with vision impairment: a qualitative inquiry

Blake, Katrina (2018) Understanding Orientation and Mobility learning and teaching for primary students with vision impairment: a qualitative inquiry. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Orientation and Mobility is a uniquely crafted pedagogical practice blending specific microteaching skills to enable students with vision impairment to achieve functional interpretation of extra-personal and peri-personal space. Linked to student wellbeing, social participation, employment and self-determination, Orientation and Mobility is a cornerstone of equity and access for students with vision impairment. Despite this, in mainstream primary education little is known about Orientation and Mobility learning and teaching and how it aligns with the Australian Curriculum.

Orientation and Mobility learning and teaching is examined from the perspectives of three female primary school students with vision impairment, a parent, a teacher, the researcher, and a panel of Orientation and Mobility specialists. These perspectives are interwoven with a detailed reflexive interrogation of the Orientation and Mobility lessons over one school semester within the contexts of the Far North and North Queensland Department of Education regions and the Australian Curriculum. This study explores how one Queensland Orientation and Mobility teacher, the researcher, explicitly communicates nonvisual, visual, tactile, and auditory concepts to primary school students with vision impairment.

Drawing on Bronfenbrenner's bioecological systems theory, the Orientation and Mobility learning experiences are captured through an interpretative methodology comprising narrative inquiry and autoethnography, both underpinned by hermeneutic phenomenology. Insider researcher data are gathered from semi structured interviews, online panel responses, and audio recordings of the Orientation and Mobility lessons. Autoethnographic field notes, document materials, and reflexive teaching journals are used to support the thematic and discourse analysis.

Results confirm that for the non-expert participants there was a substantial lack of awareness of the impact of vision impairment on learning and development, and the potential contribution of Orientation and Mobility. Systemic and cultural barriers to equitable inclusive education for these North and Far North Department of Education students with vision impairment were uncovered. Orientation and Mobility learning and teaching was clearly shown to overlap with and embed content from the Australian Curriculum.

A key finding was the isolation of a core set of micro-teaching skills pertinent to Orientation and Mobility learning and teaching. These skills were identified as: Orientation and Mobility teacher attention to dialogic language and feedback, extended interaction wait times, and shared attention to spatial and contextual environments within the Orientation and Mobility lesson. As this skill set can be used to design Orientation and Mobility learning and teaching experiences that explicitly scaffold the development of non-visual, visual, tactile, auditory, and kinaesthetic pre-cursor concepts, it was given the appropriated name of practice architecture.

An important practical outcome of the research was the formulation of an ontogenetic model of Orientation and Mobility learning and teaching. This model, which closely follows the natural development of each student with vision impairment, may serve as a tool that enables teachers to more systematically chart the biophysical attributes of the student with vision impairment. It thereby provides a learning and teaching framework for designing interactions with students with vision impairment. The ontogenetic framework has the potential to facilitate greater integration of what–and–how learning occurs in Orientation and Mobility with what–and–how learning might occur in the regular classroom.

Item ID: 59103
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Orientation and Mobility, vision impairment, Australian Curriculum, qualitative, autoethnography, narrative inquiry, hermeneutic phenomenology, insider researcher, thematic, discourse, pedagogy
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Copyright Information: Copyright © 2018 Katrina Blake.
Additional Information:

For this thesis, Katrina Blake received the Dean's Award for Excellence 2020, which recognises excellence in Higher Degree by Research and recipients of this award are commended by independent expert examiners as having made a substantial contribution to their field of research.

Publications arising from this thesis are available from the Related URLs field. The publications are:

Blake, Katrina, Kinnane, Helen, and Whipp, Melinda (2017) Virtual O&M: a far North Queensland innovation. International Journal of Orientation & Mobility, 9 (1). pp. 31-34.

Blake, Katrina, and Pagliano, Paul (2016) Does Orientation and Mobility have more to offer school students than just orientation and mobility? Journal of the South Pacific Educators in Vision Impairment, 9 (1). 2. pp. 23-34.

Date Deposited: 02 Aug 2019 04:12
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130299 Curriculum and Pedagogy not elsewhere classified @ 30%
13 EDUCATION > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130312 Special Education and Disability @ 70%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9301 Learner and Learning > 930103 Learner Development @ 50%
93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9302 Teaching and Instruction > 930201 Pedagogy @ 50%
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