Vol.1 No.1 July - December 2013ISSN: 2321-6530

GEOGRAPHICAL UNDERSTANDING OF ELEMENTARY LEVEL BLIND CHILDREN



Bibhuti Nath Mishra
Lecturer
St. Joseph's MSVM TT College, Dalsingsarai, Samastipur,Bihar.
E-mail- bibhuannum@gmail.com


Abstract

The present study aimed at investigating the understanding of elementary level geographical concepts among blind boys and blind girls. For this purpose, the tool namely 'Elementary Level Geography Achievement Test' was developed and administered by the investigator on 144-blind boys and 54-blind girls. Mean, S.D and t-test were calculated to analyse the data. The findings reveal that level of understanding of geographical concepts among blind children is lower average.

Introduction

The elementary school stage is the bridge between primary on one hand and higher secondary on the other. The interests, skills and understandings develop at the primary stage are here reinforcement and extended with a view to preparing pupils for higher secondary schools. Further the percentage of school leaves at the end of primary stage is still very considerable. There are also a large number of drop outs at the end of class VIII middle school education that is also a culminating stage. The programme of social-studies at the elementary stage therefore "is composed separate courses in Indian history, the geography of India and the world and elementary civics."

No other subject in the school curriculum can as appropriately deal with the actual living conditions in different parts of the world as geography does. It clearly shoes the extent to which the patterns of human life are affected by environmental conditions and this relationship between human and their environment gives each region its distinct 'personality'. At the school level, the function of geography is to train future citizens to imagine accurately the condition of the great world stage so as to enable them to think wisely about political and social conditions in the world around them. Geography is bound to be most helpful exciting and encouraging to the pupils at the pre adolescence stage of development when they are highly sensitive and conscious of their physical and social environment.

We human receive information and knowledge about the environment around us and learn how to cope with it by a complex sequence of activities that we call as information processing. Information about the environment is received by us through our sense organs in the form of light, sound, smell, taste, tactile and kinesthetic stimuli. Form the point of view of education, the information processing system implies that the more the information goes into the system (sensory) the more is the output (expression). In visually impaired children, there is a reduction in the sensory input due to the loss of vision and this affects his output. The information processor (brain) and the output system (expressive abilities) of the visually impaired children are quite intact, and it is in this way that blindness does not affect their cognitive functioning.

Children with visual impairment often require adaptations to access the regular curriculum. A blind student use Braille, tactile adaptations such as raised maps, speech access, use of real objects and materials and auditory descriptions. They vary widely in their learning abilities and needs and educational supports from a professional are vital. Not only educational access but also skill development and decision making access are the need of blind children. For this purpose, they need specialized instruction in skills that are not part of the standard curriculum. Curriculum of geography has its own problems. The practical aspects of geography are more likely not touched upon at many schools. Due to lack of funds, blind students are not exposed to different environments so as to distinguish them. The discipline belongs to both natural science and social science. It is observed that students face difficulties while studying physical geography as it is very close to natural science. All these problems may become a hurdle in the development of geographical concepts among blind pupils. The task of researcher is to investigate and find a suitable way out.

Objectives

Following were the objectives of the study -

  1. To study the level of understanding of geographical concepts among blind boys.
  2. To study the level of understanding of geographical concepts among blind girls.
  3. To compare the level of understanding of geographical concepts among blind boys and blind girls.

Population and Sample

The population of the present study was defined as all visually impaired children studying in various elementary level schools of Bihar. A sample of 144- blind boys from eight blind boys schools and 54-blind girls from three blind girls schools were selected by using accidental or haphazard sampling technique. The entire sample was taken from residential blind schools.

Tool

'Elementary Level Geography Achievement Test' was constructed and standardized by the investigator to collect the data regarding understanding of geographical concepts among elementary level blind children. The test construction was carried out in three stages-

In first stage, ten elementary level basic and primary geographical concepts (Solar-system, Climate, Earth's Movement, Vegetation, Plain, Mountain, Globe, Map, Latitude and Longitude) were selected after covering the whole elementary level geography syllabus prescribed by Bihar Government for class vi to viii grade students. Items were selected accordingly the length of above mentioned geographical concepts. The selection of the criterion situation was performed in such a way that it falls within the experience of the students selected as the sample. The test was consisted of all multiple choice items. The researcher followed the rules given by Harry D. Berg and Jason Millian for the construction of the items and also kept in mind the educational objectives as mentioned by Benamin S. Boom while selecting the test items. The exploratory draft was administered to 25 elementary level blind children and 25 elementary level sighted children to see whether the language of items are proper or not and to check ambiguity in the language, if any. The preliminary draft of the test had 100 items.

In the second stage, the preliminary draft was administered on 100 elementary level sighted students (50-boys and 50-girls) studying in Bihar government middle schools and 50 elementary level blind students (25-boys and 25-girls) studying in residential blind school of Bihar. Blind students were given the question paper in Braille. A separate answer sheet was used to get response from each respondent. The items were scored simply as '1'if it was correct and '0'if it was incorrect. Each item was analysed and selected or rejected on basis of criteria suggested by R.L.Ebel and D.A.Frisbie, 2009 (Essentials of educational measurement, p.232). The final draft of the test had 53 items belonging to the ten elementary level basic concepts of geography.

In the third stage, the final draft of test was administered on 150 elementary level sighted boys, 150 elementary level sighted girls, 65 elementary level blind boys and 35 elementary level blind girls. 90 minutes time for sighted and 120 minutes time for blind children was allotted. Sex norms and stanine score norms were established to provide suitable frame of reference for comparing and interpreting the scores. Test-retest reliability found to be 0.93 and K-R estimates of reliability co-efficient found to be .89. The content validity and the construct validity of the test were established on the basis of steps followed by investigator in developing 'Elementary Level Geography Achievement Test'.


Results
Significance of difference between mean scores of understanding
of geographical concepts among blind boys and blind girls

Name of Concept Blind Boys Blind Girls Remarks
Mean    N=144 SD Mean    N=54 SD
1. Solar System 2.80(46.66%) 0.97 3.20(53.33%) 2.17 SI
2. Climate 2.23(37.16%) 1.05 2.85(47.5%) 3.56 SI
3. Earth's Movement 2.45(40.83%) 1.15 2.33(38.83%) 0.68 NSI
4. Vegetarian 2.49(41.5%) 1.13 2.76(46%) 1.38 NSI
5. Plain 2.17(43.4%) 1.08 2.69(53.8%) 2.83 SI
6. Mountain 1.99(39.80%) 1.03 1.96(39.2%) 0.20 NSI
7. Globe 2.24(44.80%) 0.98 2.63(52.6%)/td> 2.41 SI
8. Map 2.59(51.80%) 1.13 2.56(51.2%) 0.18 NSI
9. Longitude 2.17(43.4%) 0.93 2.22(44.4%) 0.32 NSI
10. Latitude 2.11(52.75%) 1.00 1.81(45.25%) 2.23 SI
Over All 23.26(43.88%) 4.37 25.02(47.20%) 1.97 NSI

It is evident from the table-1 that blind girls have performed better in their understanding of the concept of solar-system, climate, vegetation, plain, globe and longitude. Blind boys have performed better in their understanding of the concept of earth's movement, mountain, map and latitude. As significance of difference between mean scores of understanding of the concept of earth's movement, mountain, map and longitude is not significant at .o5 level of significance so the hypothesis 'there is no significant difference among blind boys and blind girls in their understanding of the concept of earth's movement, mountain, map and longitude'is rejected. The percentage of mean scores depicts that the level of understanding of blind boys is below average in almost all geographical concepts except the concept of solar-system, map and latitude. It is clear from the percentage of mean scores of blind girls that they have scored either average or higher average in almost all geographical concepts except the concept of earth's movement, mountain, and latitude. The overall scores of blind boys and blind girls shows that the level of understanding of geographical concepts among blind boys is below average and level of understanding of geographical concepts among blind girls is average. The standard deviation of both groups shows that they are almost alike i.e they are homogeneous as far as their sampling is concern.

Major Findings

Following are the major findings of the study -

  1. The level of understanding of geographical concepts among blind boys is lower average.
  2. The level of understanding of geographical concepts among blind girls is average.
  3. The blind girls have better understanding of the concept of solar-system, climate, plain and globe with comparison to blind boys.
  4. The blind boys have better understanding of the concept of latitude with comparison to blind girls.
  5. The group of blind boys and blind girls are almost alike in their understanding of the concept of earth's movement, vegetation, mountain, map and latitude.

Discussion

In the present study, the investigation was concerned with assessing the level of understanding of elementary level geographical concepts among blind children. All geographical concepts considered in this study were primary and basic. The finding related with poor understanding of geographical concepts among blind boys and blind girls may be due to the traditional teaching strategies employed by teacher/special educator in geography class-room. Ponkshe (1983) found in his study that the concept oriented method is more useful than the traditional method. Tinti and Galati (1999) suggests that the blind people can use auditory imagery strategy to enhance memory in a paired associate learning task as well as can sighted subjects. In the same context Itterah and Samarapunghavan (1989) suggests that performance deficits are a function of both long term absence of direct or immediate visual information about the stimulus at hand. The below average level of geographical understanding among elementary level blind children may also due to their low socio-economic status, illiterate or below matric level parental education, poor attitude towards their teachers, specific study habits, less mastery over the Braille etc. As Vinay Kumar Singh, Geeta Singh and Masroor Jahan (2011) have found in their studies that among the below average visually impaired performers, most (90.62%) were below 15 years of age, low socio-economic status (90.62%), Primary grades (100%) and illiterate and below matric level (90.62%) parental education. In present study, data were collected from residential blind schools where the parents have a rare interaction with their wards. All blind students have to depend on the information given by their regular teacher in class-room or volunteers who visit blind school time to time. So, this may also be reason for blind student's limited range and variety of experiences which cause their below average development of basic elementary level geographical concepts. As Sharma (2005) reported that the level of school achievement can be predicted on the basis of family climate and self-esteem of visually disabled children. Jain and Mishra (1998) have also reported that parental responsiveness positively contributed to academic achievement. Contrary to the report of Sharma (2005) ; Jain and Mishra (1998) ; Vyas (2002) found that parents' education, occupation and income doesnot affect the academic performances. Family members' knowledge of Braille and the right equipment to provide exposure to the Braille reading medium is imperative to foster development of appropriate and meaningful early emergent literacy experience (Harrison, 2003). Therefore, parents-teachers conferences need to be organized regularly in school and parental training on education of visually impaired students is required to be conducted for their better performances. Parents should be acquainted with various reaching-learning materials for the blind in subject geography. They should also give the knowledge of various techniques to develop understanding of geographical concepts among blind individuals through guidance and counseling programmes. Guardians/Parents of blind students should always be in contact with their wards and regular geography teacher, whether their ward admitted in residential or non-residential school. Home and school collaboration especially in residential school set ups need to be strengthen so that co-operation among special educator and family members can be empowered to enhance understanding of geographical concepts among these children. Professionals and parents have to help blind children together everyday experiences.

Julka (2007) reported that girls with disability face double discrimination on account of being a girl and on top of that a girl having disability. They are also more vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse at home or at school. They generally complain of lack of privacy. But the present study shows that elementary level blind girls are superior in their understanding of elementary level basic geographical concepts with comparison to elementary level blind boys as blind girls have performed better in the understanding of seven concepts out of ten concepts.

References

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