Title

Reducing Cognitive Overload By Using Visual Split-Attention Strategies with Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students

Location

Harborside Center East and West

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Strand #2

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Relevance

This proposal relates to Strand I, Academic Achievement and Leadership, in that, it outlines strategies for reducing the achievement gap for deaf students by minimizing cognitive overload. If accepted, the paper presentation will highlight practical strategies for reducing the achievement gap for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

Brief Program Description

The academic underachievement of deaf youth is a widespread issue facing America’s education system. One possible rationale for the achievement gap pertains to the visual split attention effect. This poster presentation will explore learning strategies that reduce the visual split attention effect among deaf students, which has resulted in reduced cognitive overload and positive learning outcomes.

Summary

The majority deaf and hard-of-hearing students function below grade level in reading and math, and they perform well below expectations on standardized achievement tests when compared to their hearing peers. This achievement gap is more noticeable in reading than in math, presumably because of language barriers. Since many deaf students predominantly rely on learning through the visual modality, i.e. American Sign Language (ASL), they often struggle to understand concepts and express themselves when taking standardized tests, which are presented in English not ASL. Consequently, teachers of deaf students routinely incorporate a variety of visual strategies into their lesson plans. These may include the use of a Smart Board, an overhead projector, or Power Point slides. However, teaching these visual strategies using ASL (a visual language) forces deaf students of all ages to divide, or split, their visual attention to more than one thing at a time, hence the term “visual split attention”. In the classroom, deaf students who divide their visual attention are placed at risk for overloading their working memory skills, which could have a detrimental effect on their academic achievement. Thus, it seems reasonable to infer that visual split attention should be minimized for deaf students. Interestingly, Dr. Susan Mather, a linguistics professor at Gallaudet University, highlighted some visual learning strategies that reduce the visual-split attention effect among deaf and hard-of-hearing students thereby offering hope for improving the achievement gap for this population. The practical application of visual learning strategies, as suggested by Dr. Mather, has led to positive learning outcomes for deaf students. Dr. Payne and Dr. Harris will use handouts and a live demonstration to share with conference attendees the visual learning strategies that reduce the visual-split attention effect for deaf students.

Evidence

Dr. Payne’s practical application of Dr. Mather’s research resulted in positive learning outcomes for deaf students in Georgia. An academic intervention program was designed and implemented for 9 weeks to improve hearing and deaf students’ cognitive skills, including visual split attention. Post-intervention data indicated that all students, both deaf and hearing, showed some level of improvement in self-esteem, academic performance, and cognitive skill. The outcome of this intervention program offers hope to the field-tested effectiveness of cognitive skill remediation such as the use of visual split attention strategies, which supports a growing body of research pertaining to the academic effects of cognitive skill training.

Format

Poster Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Erica L. Payne, CEO and Founder of Deafinite Pathways Inc, is a veteran educator with more than sixteen years of combined career experience as a school psychologist, administrator, college instructor, and educational consultant. She has held professional positions in various organizations such as the Louisiana School for the Deaf, Kennedy Krieger Institute, and public school districts in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Georgia. She specializes in designing and implementing initiatives that link multiple intelligence theory to intervention to assist deaf clients inreaching their full potential. Her experience includes bridging the gap betweendeaf individuals and the pursuit of their dreams through education andadvocacy. Dr. Payne is a graduate of Hampton University and a three time graduate of Gallaudet University. Her most distinguished career accomplishments include being featured as a subject matter expert in the documentary Swimmer’s Ear and serving as a guest speaker on the Cynthia Harper Show. In sum, Dr. Erica L. Payne has dedicated her career to creating innovative pathways so that more deaf individuals can attend college, become entrepreneurs, and better position themselves in Corporate America.

Dr. Sandra M. Harris PhD, MED. MA, BA, is the Assessment Coordinator for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Walden University. She holds a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Educational Psychology as well as a Master’s of Education in School Psychometry from Auburn University in Alabama. She obtained Master of Arts and Bachelor Arts Degrees in Psychology from California State University.

Her professional background includes 20 years of active duty service in the United States Air Force. During those 20 years she gained experience in curriculum design and development, lesson plan development and preparation, test construction, and formalized classroom instruction. She served as manager of distanceeducation programs, manager for a paper-based career development courses, as well as manager of developing interactive, computer, delivered instructional media.

Dr. Harris has 24 years of experience in working with adult learners. She has 21 years of experience in teaching in higher education. Her experience includes developing and delivering instruction in the online learning environment. Her experience in mentoring is extensive. She has successfully chaired 11 dissertations and 11 theses to completion. She has been a committee member of approximately 75 completed dissertations and 2 completed theses. She has served as consultant and advisor to over 30 other dissertations and theses.

Dr. Harris also has a solid research background. She has 16 scholarly publications in peer reviewed journals and over 80 presentations at local, regional, and national level conferences. She has engaged in other scholarly activities such as proposal reviewer, session moderator, textbook reviewer, and editor.

Keyword Descriptors

hearing impaired students, reducing cognitive load, visual split attention

Presentation Year

2015

Start Date

3-3-2015 4:00 PM

End Date

3-3-2015 5:30 PM

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Mar 3rd, 4:00 PM Mar 3rd, 5:30 PM

Reducing Cognitive Overload By Using Visual Split-Attention Strategies with Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students

Harborside Center East and West

The academic underachievement of deaf youth is a widespread issue facing America’s education system. One possible rationale for the achievement gap pertains to the visual split attention effect. This poster presentation will explore learning strategies that reduce the visual split attention effect among deaf students, which has resulted in reduced cognitive overload and positive learning outcomes.