Hegarty, John R (1973) Some experiments in the use of the touch tutor with severely subnormal children. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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The purpose of the present work is to examine critically some of the factors involved in the use of a matching to sample teaching machine (the 'Touch Tutor') in the everyday teaching of severely mentally subnormal (S.S.N.) children. Two factors prompted this evaluation. Firstly, it was felt that too little attention had previously been paid to the possible benefits which could accrue from the use of teaching machines with these children. When, however, this machine appeared commercially and began to be purchased by some authorities for use in Special Schools, it was felt that the widespread adoption of such a technique was over-hasty. The second factor was, therefore, that too little was known about how valuable
such a machine could be for its purchase to be warranted.
The evaluation is begun by examining the results of studies with machines of similar design with young normal and mentally handicapped children and. with adult, aphasic patients. These studies suggest the broad applicability of a machine such as the Touch Tutor to the S.S.N. child but contain little detail with which to judge the full extent of this likely applicability. Thus, it is hard to tell for how many such children the machine would be attractive, how many children would be able to operate the machine correctly, whether teachers would be ace to incorporate such a machine into their everyday teaching and what range of skills the machine could be used to teach. Since all of these factors would appear to represent important pre-conditions of use for such a machine, the evaluation proceeds by reporting the responses of two groups of S.S.N. children in residential care to the Touch Tutor.
Preliminary observations suggest that the majority of children find the Touch Tutor attractive but that a much smaller number are able to operate it correctly in the early stages of its use. In addition, children who do not respond to it correctly engage in a number of complex patterns of responding which defy explanation.
More systematic study of the responses of children to the Touch Tutor enables a more accurate picture to be gained of the responsiveness of children to the machine and study is then directed to the use of the Touch Tutor in a school classroom. This suggests that one of the major drawbacks to the machine's use is the paucity of programme material available for it, which prompts the consideration of the problems of developing further such material for the machine.
On the basis of this evaluation, it seems that the Touch Tutor could be a reasonable proposition for a Special School in terms of the numbers of children who would want and be able to use it but that a major drawback to its use would be the narrow range of programme material likely to be available for it, this being not only a function of the present lack of teaching programmes but also of the difficulty of envisaging subject matter which the machine could teach, as well as the difficulty and expense involved in the physical manufacture of programme
Because, however, it is felt that the use of a teaching machine could offer something valuable to S.S.N. children (even 'though no specific attempt to evaluate this has been made in the present work) the possibility of using a similar but cheaper machine, for which programmes might be easier to devise and produce, is considered.
The work ends with the belief that further work upon the educational merit of different aspects of classroom apparatus and methods could prove a valuable first step to the possibility logical development of the present work - that of attempting to compare the effectiveness of such a device as the Touch Tutor to methods at present in use.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Natural Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2019 11:32
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2019 11:32
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/5981

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