Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

Social Skills for Youths with Visual Impairments: A Meta-Analysis

Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

Social Skills for Youths with Visual Impairments: A Meta-Analysis

Article excerpt

The literature in the field of visual impairment (that is, blindness and low vision) reports that an ability to create and sustain relationships with others positively affects employment outcomes. Qualitative research by Golub (2003) identified social competence as one of four factors contributing to employability. She found that employers valued social skills, including conversational skills, fit with workplace culture, and the ability to maintain harmonious productive relations. Sacks and Wolffe (2006) cited social competence as critical for success in the community, well beyond a child's years in school. Despite high educational attainment, employment rates for persons with visual impairments remain low. In a recent analysis of the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2), McDonnall (2010) estimated employment rates for youths with visual impairments at 38.2%. With employment rates for adults in this same disability group reported at only 38.8% (Erickson, Lee, & von Schrader, 2012), the identification of factors contributing to successful transition outcomes has far-reaching implications.

Stakeholders in the field of visual impairment have advocated for specialized instruction in areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) as one avenue for improving transition outcomes for these youths (Huebner, Merk-Adam, Stryker, & Wolffe, 2004). Yet Wolffe et al. (2002) found that teachers of children with visual impairments have limited available time to address disability-specific skills. Therefore, it is critical to identify ECC areas that demonstrate positive impacts on successful transition outcomes.

Purpose

In low-incidence disabilities research, small samples challenge researchers to demonstrate statistical significance. Even though large secondary datasets such as NLTS2 have sampled youths with visual impairments, few correlation studies have analyzed these data to investigate transition outcomes for these youths. The current study will apply a process similar to that used by medical researchers who combine various--and often conflicting--research to estimate the overarching effect of a treatment (Borenstein, Hedges, Higgins, & Rothstein, 2009). Serving as a quantitative research aggregator, meta-analysis combines the statistical power of multiple smaller studies to test the overall summary effect of a specific variable for a given population (Borenstein et al., 2009). By combining and analyzing the available NLTS2 research on social skills for youths with visual impairments, the results of this meta-analysis may help teachers evaluate whether social competence is an instructional area that will benefit their students.

Methods

SELECTION CRITERIA

Meta-analysis requires that individual investigations report sufficient statistical results in their findings. The methodology is also bound by the assumption that all included reports represent independent data. Research in this analysis met the following criteria: (1) quantitative studies pertaining to youths with visual impairments; (2) using the NLTS2 datasets; and (3) measuring the significance of social skills as, or on, a dependent variable. In addition, only research that reported effect size data for individual waves could be retained for aggregation.

NLTS2

NLTS2 randomly selected 3,634 local education agencies from the 12,000 potential local education agencies in the United States that served students in the 7th through 12th grades. The sample also included 77 specialized schools for students with visual, hearing, and multiple disabilities (Cameto, Wagner, Newman, Blackorby, & Javitz, 2002). Of the over 11,000 youths sampled for the NLTS2

study, approximately 1,250 were identified as having visual impairment as their primary disability (Cameto et al., 2002). NLTS2 collected data from participants or their parents (or both) every 2 years for a period of 10 years (2000-2010). …

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