Measuring the engagement of children with disabilities in early childhood settings: a guide for inclusive practice
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 14:20 by Yuriko Kishida
Learning occurs as children engage with people, activities and materials. It is important, therefore, that practitioners working with children with disabilities in early childhood settings ensure that these children are engaged in the activities provided. While engagement data can be useful for both research and practice, no individual engagement measure was found that practitioners could easily use to program for the children with disabilities attending their early childhood centre-based settings. The main purpose of the research reported in this thesis was to develop a simple, reliable and valid measure of engagement that could be useful in early childhood practitioners' daily practice. The Individual Child Engagement Record (ICER), which was developed following an examination of the existing measures and a review of the research, was trialed using observations of children with disabilities in an inclusive childcare centre. The results supported the potential of the ICER for both research and practice. After the ICER was revised (ICER-R), and validated as an indicator of learning opportunity, practitioners were trained in its implementation in order to investigate the use of the measure in inclusive early childhood practice. Data gathered through the training process indicated the practical value of the ICER-R. -- Following an examination of the data for the one child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) included in the pilot study and a subsequent review of the literature relating to the engagement of young children with ASD, children with ASD who attended both segregated and inclusive early childhood settings were observed using the ICER-R to examine learning opportunities available in the two types of settings. Both the strengths and weaknesses of the two types of settings were identified. The implications of the findings for practice were discussed, including the use of ICER-R data to program for an increase in learning opportunities provided in early childhood centre-based settings.