The prediction of learning problems among black school beginners
Ross, Florence Mary
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The purpose of this investigation was to conduct a theoretical study on the psychological processes of learning problems experienced by black school children, and to investigate if the ASB has the ability to predict learning problems among black school beginners. The description of the psychological processes was based on the definition proposed in 1968 by the National Advisory Committee on Handicapped Children. In addition to this definition it was considered pertinent to the study that the De Lange Commission statement reported in 1981 on learning disorders also be included. It was found in the literature that the dysfunction of psychological processes exhibit universal symptoms and that although there is little information available on the problem, black children are no different to other children in that they also experience learning problems. This fact assumes that the universal criteria for average or above average intellectual ability is met, that primary problems of emotional disturbance or physical handicaps are excluded, and that environmental factors are seen as contributory aspects of learning difficulties rather than as creating dysfunctional psychological processes. These processes are hierarchically categorized in the following terms - sensation, concentration, perception, imagery/memory, symbolization and conceptualization. They are also not considered as mutually exclusive groupings. An additional problem developed in that a minimum amount of information regarding dysfunctions of psychological processes among black South African children is available and information is mainly drawn from research done in this regard with black societies in other areas. Language development plays an important role in acquiring learning skills and according to the analysis of various language theories, a reasonable assumption appears to be that a relatively normal pattern of language development indicates fewer learning problems. It was noted however that the black child is coping with the vernacular language at an un-sophisticated level because of the lack of visual stimuli, such as books, magazines, recreational activities, and that this may qualitatively affect the initial formal scholastic experience of school beginners. From various discussions with personnel in educational fields, the black child's mother-tongue language development appears to be normal in that the child goes through the normal stages of acquiring language. But the probable incompleteness of language development experiences mean that the child's environmental observations limit the adequate completion of the various h,ierarchical developmental steps needed in order to have a firm base for effectively functioning psychological processes to operate. In the research, 254 South Sotho children initially took part in the experiment. Selection criteria were applied, such as intellectual ability, exclusion of physically handicapped, six to eight year old Sub A male and female children, and apart from four absentees at the end of the year, 156 children completed the research. Administration of the following tests were given to the population sample. An adapted form of the Cattell Culture Fair Scale 1 test, the ASB tests 1 - 8, a Questionnaire on reading and spelling and finally at the end of the school year one spelling and one reading test. The status of the tests was regarded as satisfactory. All testing was controlled and monitored by the researcher and trained teaching personnel. An ex-post facto design was used and a multiple regression stepwise analysis evaluated the data obtained from the tests.