Using student perceptions to evaluate the effectiveness of education for high school students with vision impairment
Thesis DisciplineManagement Science
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This research introduces, develops and applies the concept of using student perceptions to measure opportunity-to-learn, in order to evaluate regular and special educational provision. A qualitative investigation into services for the education of learners with vision impairment identified the common aim of giving students equal access to the curriculum as their sighted peers. It also elicited potential determinants of need that affect caseload allocation decisions. Opportunity-to-learn was identified as a concept in the research literature, which has evolved from a measure of content coverage into a potential indicator of school effectiveness, measured almost exclusively from the teachers' perception. This research drew on the growing body of research that asks the students, to shift the focus from the teacher to the students themselves. An instrument was developed, based on the Essential Skills of the New Zealand curriculum, that measures opportunity-to-learn from the perspective of the students. This was used to collect baseline data on 1300 students, with no identified special needs, from twenty secondary schools throughout New Zealand. Analysis of the baseline data demonstrated the validity of the approach, and its potential to aid in research on the educational process, using this set of intermediate indicators. Results showed differences between schools and between girls and boys. The mean index scores for the schools were not strongly related to the socio-economic background of the schools, but did reflect independent measures of school quality. The instrument was then used to measure opportunity-to-learn for fifty learners with vision impairment in regular high schools. Comprehensive data on these learners was gathered from regular and specialist teachers, parents, schools and the individuals themselves. This data was analysed to evaluate the services and the opportunity-to-learn for the learners with vision impairment. Results showed that on average these students had opportunity-to-learn at least as good as for their sighted peers. Areas of weakness and strength within the service were identified. The instrument proved effective in the evaluation process.