Williams, Thomas Edwin
A multimodal approach to the assessment and treatment of children with learning difficulties.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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The object of the research reported in this thesis was to
evaluate the potential effectiveness of applying a Multimodal
approach - as described by Lazarus (1976, 1981) - to trying
to help children with learning difficulties referred through
schools to a Child Guidance Service. It was the intention,
as far as possible, to work within the normal constraints
imposed on the system within which the Educational
Psychologist has to work.
The research adopted a methodology based on the Decision
Theoretic Model described by Edwards, Guttentag and
Snapper (1975). This entailed the prior setting of objectives
against which the strategies under consideration were
evaluated. The Multimodal strategy was evaluated against
two existing strategies which were in current use within
Child Guidance Services. One of the strategies was tightly
controlled and structured, whereas the other was more open
to flexibility and adaptations. The evaluation was carried
out in two phases: an Assessment phase and an Intervention
In the Assessment phase, information was gathered on children
involved in all three of the strategies, which was used to
assess their suitability for receiving specialist support.
This information was evaluated by 'third party' expert
judges against the specific assessment objectives which had
previously been set. Using the Decision Theoretic Methodology
the Utility, or perceived usefulness, of each assessment was
derived. This was then compared with subjective opinions which
had been developed previously based on descriptions of the three
strategies. The results demonstrated that both in terms of the
prior subjective opinions, and also on the basis of the actual assessments
made, the Multimodal Approach was the most useful in terms of meeting
the given objectives.
Subsequent progress of children going through each of the three
strategies was monitored. In addition to starting data, further
data was gathered on two subsequent occasions: on average nine months
in each case. On the basis of the data gathered independent 'expert
judges' were asked to evaluate the child's progress against the set
objectives that relate to intervention. At the end of the first
period the picture was unclear as to which of the strategies was
proving the most effective, although the Multimodal Approach was
marginally the most attractive when all other things were equal.
However, by the end of the second period it became clear that the
Multimodal Approach was seen as producing the best outcomes, with
the Structured Approach being second, and the Unstructured Approach third.
In terms of the objectives that had been set, it was concluded that the
Multimodal Approach was the most useful in terms of giving a full and
potentially useful assessment, but that the broad spectrum approach of
the Multimodal paradigm required a considerable period of time in which
to operate before notable gains could be detected. The implications of
the outcome utilitities are discussed fully in the body of the thesis.The thesis also contains a review of literature on the
Multimodal paradigm, a review of literature on learning
difficulties which seeks to place the research in the
context of the seven modalities of the Multimodal
BASIC IB, and there is also a review of the literature
on research methodology which seeks to place the
methodology adopted in the context of psychological
experimentation in general.
The thesis concludes with discussions on the future
applicability of both the Multimodal approach, and the
Decision Theoretic Methodology to Child Guidance Practice
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