Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Coenrollment for Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Friendship Patterns and Social Interactions

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Coenrollment for Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Friendship Patterns and Social Interactions

Article excerpt

THIRD- and fourth-grade students in two separate classrooms-one a classroom with only hearing students and the other a coenrolled classroom with hearing, hard of hearing, and deaf students-were assessed to determine friendship patterns, attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions about sign language and deafness. Sociograms, interviews, and videotape analysis of the students' responses were done. Results suggest that hearing students in the coenrolled classroom had better sign language skills, a more positive attitude toward deafness, and an improved awareness of certain aspects of hearing loss (such as speech and amplification). Deaf and hard of hearing students' social acceptance was similar to that of their hearing peers.

Coenrollment has become a viable ed- ucational placement option for stu- dents who are deaf or hard of hearing. This service delivery model allows these students to be educated in gen- eral education classrooms with hearing students. Two teachers, an educator of the deaf and a general educator, work as a team to educate all students in the classroom. Coenrollment requires a strong commitment from general edu- cators, special educators, parents, and administrators in order to be success- ful (Friend & Cook, 2007). As coen- rollment continues to become an educational placement option for stu- dents who are deaf or hard of hearing, educators need to consider not only the academic but also the social and communication effects of coenroll- ment on all the individuals involved, not just the students with hearing loss.

In the present article, I look at friendship patterns among deaf and hard of hearing students and hearing students in coenrolled and noncoenrolled classrooms. Specifically, I examine the attitudes, beliefs, and friendship patterns that hearing students develop when coenrolled with students who are deaf or hard of hearing, and examine the sign language skill development and proficiency of hearing students when coenrolled with students who use sign as their primary mode of communication.

Issues such as student attitudes and beliefs can enhance or diminish the success of a coenrolled classroom. Similarly the ability to communicate with peers greatly influences the associations and friendships that are developed within a classroom. Martin and Bat-Chava (2003) observe that "the primary barrier to deaf children's relationships with hearing peers is communication difficulties" (p. 512). Communication issues, in turn, influence the overall social, linguistic, and academic achievement of the students in the classroom.

Several researchers have investigated the academic, social, and linguistic success of students who are deaf or hard of hearing in coenrolled classrooms (Antia & Kreimeyer, 1996; Antia & Stinson, 1999; Kirchner, 1994; Kluwin, 1999; Kreimeyer, Crooke, Drye, Egbert, & Klein, 2000; McCain, & Antia, 2005). These researchers' findings suggest that coenrollment offers a promising alternative educational placement option for such students. Students with hearing loss enrolled in these types of classrooms participate in the regular education curriculum but also have a critical mass of students and teachers with whom to identify and communicate. Traditionally students who are deaf or hard of hearing have been mainstreamed or included in general education classrooms with only an interpreter. In such settings, these students have reported being socially isolated and unable to communicate with anyone other than the interpreter (Stinson & Liu, 1999). While not all children who are deaf or hard of hearing use sign language, a major premise of the coenrollment model is that hearing students and staff will learn to communicate through sign language, thereby eliminating the effects of social isolation and loneliness.

Other researchers have investigated the qualifications, roles, and collaboration of the teachers involved in coenrollment (Antia, 1999; Luckner, 1999). …

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