Comparison of Direct Instruction and Problem Solving Approach in Teaching Social Skills to Children with Mental Retardation

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study was aimed at comparing the effectiveness and efficiency of direct instruction and problem solving approaches in teaching social skills to children with mental retardation. The design was adapted alternating treatment design. The subjects of the study consist of a girl and a boy between the ages of 11 and 13 who are mentally retarded. In order to collect the research data, teacher's interview form, the control check lists of social skills, criterion-referenced tests and data record sheets to use during direct instruction and problem solving approaches, efficiency form were developed and used. Visual graphical analysis method was used in the analysis of the data. The outcome shows that direct instruction approach was more effective than problem solving approach in teaching social skills to first subject. In acquisition of social skills direct instruction was more efficient in terms of total training time and training errors through criterion than problem solving approach.

Key Words

Direct instruction, problem solving approach, skill training, social skills, mental retardation

Social skills include skills of decision such as to establish verbal communication via starting and keeping communication, to express emotions such as wishes, likes and dislikes, rejecting; group work, to cope with negative situations, skills of eating at restaurants, using communal means such as public transportation, ATMs and skills of making choice (Çakir 2006, Varol 2004).

Having social skills is important for building and maintaining positive relationships and getting positive feedback for these social behaviors (Cartledge & Milburn, 1986; Sargent, 1991; Sucuoglu & Çifçi, 2001). Additionally, gaining such skills are regarded as a must for being accepted by peers (Huang & Cuvo, 1997; Sucuoglu & Çifçi, 2001).

People get necessary skills by modeling people around them and using cognitive strategies they own to live independently in society (Özyürek, 1983; Snell, 1993). However individuals afflicted with mental disability may not have the chance to model and learn socially accepted behaviors because of the constraints in their lives (Huang & Cuvo, 1997). Segregated special education schools serve few opportunities to teach social skills and this limits mentally disabled students from gaining such skills (Sazak, 2003). Teachers' frequent criticism about inappropriate behaviors of mentally disabled students causes an increase in misbehaviors and inability to develop social skills when they are placed into regular classroom settings (Özyürek, 1999).

There are various effective ways to teach social skills to mentally retarded individuals. Some of them are direct instruction approach, problem solving approach, collaborative teaching method, and peer tutoring intervention (Alptekin, 2010; Avcioglu, 2001; Chadsey-Rusch, 1992; Çifci, 2001; Klingenberg & Rusch, 1991; O' Reilly & Chadsey- Rusch, 1992; Park & Gaylord-Ross, 1989; Sazak, 2003; Wolery, Ault, & Doyle, 1992). In this research direct instruction approach and problem solving method have been mentioned.

Direct instruction approach consists of modelling, guided practices, separate practice levels and it is a teaching method in which repeated exercises are performed to maintain permanency (Cornish, 2003; Çakir, 2006; Dagseven, 2001; Kemp & Carter 2002; Özokçu, 2007; Pearson & Gallagher, 1983).

Problem solving approach aims to make people who have a high level of receptive and expressive language gain social skills by teaching problem solving steps (Çifçi & Sucuoglu, 2004; Klingenberg & Rusch, 1991; Ladd & Mize, 1983).

In literature, we have studies about the efficacy of programs based on direct instruction approach in social skills teaching (Alptekin, 2010; Chadsey- Rusch, Karlan, Riva, & Rusch, 1984; Çakir 2006; Foxx, McMorrow, Storey, & Rogers, 1984; Kramer & Rodey 1997; Knapczyk 1989; La Greca, Stone, & Bell 1983; Özokçu 2007; Wheeler, Bates, Marshall, & Miller, 1988). …