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Language and Literacy Skills, Attitudes, and Motivation of At-Risk Adolescents
AuthorPeck, Edyl Z. Y.
Speech Pathology and Audiology
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Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the language/literacy skills of at-risk adolescents. In addition, this study aimed to know more about at-risk adolescents’ perceptions, attitudes, and motivation about their language/literacy skills as well as their learning experiences. Method: A mixed method design was conducted in this study. There were two phases to this study. Ten 18- to 19-year old at-risk adolescents participated in Phase 1, which included the Test of Integrated Language and Literacy Skills, Perceived Language/Literacy Survey, Attitude Survey, and a Motivation Survey. Eight at-risk adolescents participated in Phase 2 including an educational conference and surveys. Results: Thirty percent (3/10) of at-risk adolescents tested had a language/literacy disorder. There was a significant correlation between how at-risk adolescents perceived their language/literacy skills and their TILLS identification test score (Χ2(2) > = 4.286, p = 0.038). At-risk adolescents who answered the Attitude Survey about their learning experiences varied in how much they liked school, how much effort they put in to completing homework, and if they felt they were able to apply school experiences to a job. In general at-risk adolescents tended to prefer to learn kinesthetically, liked Language Arts, and disliked Math. In general, at-risk adolescents dreamed obtaining a professional job that required higher education. When asked about obstacles to their dreams, responses varied and included nothing, education, and finances. For those that participated in the educational conference, learning about their language/literacy did not significantly change their locus of control but significantly changed their interest in obtaining speech and language services.Discussion: The language/literacy skills, attitudes, and motivation of at-risk adolescents who are identified as homeless varied. This adds to the current literature and support that some at-risk adolescents can benefit from speech and language services. Preliminary information about at-risk adolescents’ preferred learning modality is also introduced with these findings. A significant subset of adolescents have good awareness of their language/literacy skills supplementing that with more questions that probe the use of language/literacy skills, at-risk adolescents can accurately screen their own performance.Conclusion: These findings support previous work suggesting that at-risk adolescents would benefit from speech-language services. Speech-language pathologists can play a critical role on teams with social workers and psychologists to help identify language/literacy skills of at-risk adolescents, which could subsequently impact their ability to plan, problem solve, overcome past experiences, obtain employment, and ultimately, live independently.Key words: At-risk adolescents, language/literacy skills, attitude, motivation, homeless, delinquent.