Utilization of Assistive Technology in Improving Academic Performance in Primary Schools for Learners with Hearing Challenges in Meru and Tharaka Nithi Counties, Kenya
Murithi, Sabina Bahati
MetadataShow full item record
Through the Ministry of Education, the government of Kenya has put in place legal frameworks and policies to support children's education with special needs. It has implemented measures such as training and employing teachers to deliver special needs quality education and increasing budgetary allocations for the same. Despite these efforts, academic performance in primary schools for students with hearing impairments has been dismal, falling below the national average of 250 points. This study aimed to assess the utilization of assistive technologies towards improving the academic performance in primary schools for learners with hearing challenges in Meru and Tharaka Nithi counties, Kenya, and determine the moderating effect of learner's attitude in the hypothesized relationship. The study's key objectives were to investigate the impact of listening assistive technology, augmentative and alternative assistive technologies, and alerting assistive technology on academic achievement in primary schools for students with hearing impairments. The last objective looked at how learners' attitudes influenced the hypothesized relationship. The cause and effect theory, capacity theory, and social cognitive theory drove the study. It adopted the pragmatism philosophy and applied a mixed-methods approach. It utilized correlational and descriptive survey research designs. The three primary schools for students with hearing impairments were the target audience, and information was contributed by students, teaching and non-teaching personnel, head teachers, and County Educational Directors of Education. The learners, teaching and non-teaching personnel were selected using simple random, however the three head teachers and two County Educational Directors of Education were chosen on purposively. Data were collected using questionnaires, focused group discussion and an interview guide. Piloting enabled the checking of the reliability and validity of instruments. The quantitative data were analyzed using SPSS. The mean, mode and percentages were computed, while correlation and regression analysis helped to test hypotheses. Thematic analysis was used to assess the qualitative data. Tables, graphs, and identified themes were used to present the findings. The study confirmed that the academic performance in the three primary schools was poor. The schools had few assistive technology devices, which were poorly maintained and limited in variety; hence, their utilization in class and during examinations was conspicuously very low. Moreover, the learners lacked enough skills, while the schools lacked clear guidelines regarding their utilization. The government's support was also negligible. Nevertheless, the three assistive technology devices were statistically significant in influencing the academic performance in primary schools for learners with hearing impairments. The learner's attitude moderated the hypothesized relationship in this study. The study recommends that the Ministry of Education not only purchase all the requisite assistive technology devices but also allocate some funds for repair and maintenance. It should come up with training schedules for learners on assistive devices. Policy was needed to foster the use of assistive technology devices in classes and during examinations. The Teacher Service Commission should liaise with the government to ensure that all the teachers posted to primary schools for learners with hearing impairments are well trained in using the assistive technology devices. Findings have implications on curriculum, funding, and teaching practices of the hearing impaired learners.