Inclusion and Diversity: Social Skills


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Inclusion and Diversity: Social Skills

  1. 1. Social skillsSTUDY GUIDE Previous Contents Next Page 1/9
  2. 2. Social skills Contents • Peer relationships • Creating a supportive environment • Social competence • Teaching social skills Previous Contents Next Page 2/9
  3. 3. Social skills Peer relationships Many students with general learning disabilities demonstrate difficulties in developing social relationships with adults and peers in their environment. Westwood (2009) tells us that social skills are the specific behaviours an individual uses to maintain effective interpersonal communication and interaction with others and that social competence comprises a set of skills and behaviours that allow an individual to initiate and maintain positive interactions and to cope effectively with the environment. Many students with General Learning Disabilities (GLD) have difficulty relating to others and interacting with peers. Poor peer relationships during school years can have a lasting detrimental impact on social and personal competence in later years. Elksin and Elksin (2001) claim that establishing good social relationships with other children is one of the most important goals of education. Previous Contents Next Page 3/9
  4. 4. Social skills Peer relationships Results of studies of inclusion indicate that merely placing a student in a mainstream class spontaneously improves their social status (Turnball et al, 2002). Three basic problems may arise: • Students with GLD are not readily accepted by their peers • They do not automatically observe and imitate social models around them • Teachers may fail to intervene positively to promote social interactions on the students behalf. It is of paramount importance that inclusive classrooms provide the necessary support for positive social interactions to occur (Sparzo & Poteet, 1997). Previous Contents Next Page 4/9
  5. 5. Social skills Creating a supportive environment It has long been acknowledged that teachers’ attitudes are one of the key factors influencing the effectiveness of inclusive education (Cook, 2001). In turn students attitudes are influenced when teachers build a climate of care and concern for others in the classroom. Consideration of individual differences can be an ongoing theme within the taught curriculum. Facilitating peer and buddy systems can provide unique opportunities for students to establish understanding and respect for each others’ differences and abilities. Students need to be given opportunities to interact with each other both within and outside the classroom – teachers are advised to use group activities regularly and to encourage cooperation among students at all times (Johnson and Johnson, 2000). Previous Contents Next Page 5/9
  6. 6. Social skills Creating a supportive environment Choice of tasks for group work activities is very important. Tasks need to be selected that require collaboration and teamwork. In addition, group members need to be taught how to work together. They need to be shown behaviours that encourage or enable co-operation – listening to others, sharing, complementing, encouraging, offering help. Students need to be taught how to assess each other on the new learning. Specific tasks and duties of students with special/additional needs should be clearly delineated. It is useful to focus on the outcomes for the group and not for any one individual within the group. Frequent use of group activities will enable students to learn the skills and the rules – the rules as stated must be taught, modelled, role played and discussed in preparation. Westwood (2007) identifies three conditions that must be present for positive social interaction and the development of friendships among students. • The teacher needs to foster a positive and accepting attitude towards all students. • Maximum opportunities are provided to engage socially in pair/group work. • Specific skills need to be taught to enhance social contact with peers. Previous Contents Next Page 6/9
  7. 7. Social skills Social competence Social skills contribute to a broader domain of human behaviour described as social competence. Warger and Rutherford (1996) state that a person is socially competent when they are able to: • Recognise social rules and expectations • Perform socially appropriate behaviours • Perceive social situations accurately and identify the relevant skills to use • Correctly interpret information and cues from others • Initiate social interaction appropriately • Communicate effectively in different social situations • Perform social skills in a consistent and generalised manner • Establish and maintain friendships • Solve interpersonal or social problems as they arise Previous Contents Next • Negotiate tactfully and successfully with others Page 7/9
  8. 8. Social skills Teaching social skills Define the skill to be taught: describe the skill to be taught, discuss why the skill is important and how it helps social interactions to occur. The skill can then be illustrated using film, video, puppets or by pointing to other students engaging in the activity – look at the two boys sharing – what do you think they might be saying to each other? Model the skill: break the skill down into its component parts and demonstrate these clearly yourself or get another student to do so. The student then tries out the skill in a structured situation – in order to do this the steps required must be clear, small and manageable for the student to copy and retain. The use of picture cues can help support the student to learn the sequence correctly. Previous Contents Next Page 8/9
  9. 9. Social skills Finish Feedback should be positive and informative: you’re doing well but you are not quite there yet – you need to look at her while you speak – that is much better now – you were looking at her this time. Provide opportunities for the skill to be used: watch for instances of the child applying the skill without prompting – provide descriptive feedback, praise and reward. Studies suggest that social skills training programmes for students with general learning disabilities can be successful if they target the precise skills and knowledge the student is lacking. If they are intensive and long term in nature they promote maintenance, generalisation and transfer of new skills outside the individual daily life (Kavale & Mostert, 2004). Previous Contents Next Page 9/9