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Presented to DR. DIANA LEE TRACY K. CHAN Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION Background of the Study Do children with ASD Spectrum Disorders (ASD) really have a world of their own If so, how can they be engaged and motivated to learn specific academic skills How do they process information What can be done to help them in their academic endeavor These puzzling questions linger on a teachers mind when seeking for strategies that would help in addressing the behavioral and academic concerns of children with ASD. ASD refers to a condition characterized by severe and pervasive impairment in several areas of development reciprocal social interaction skills, communication skills, stereotyped behavior, interests and activities (American Psychological Association, 2000). On the other hand, they are visual learners with good visual processing skills and detail focused processing skills (Happe Frith, 2006).These unique traits, when capitalized, make them excel when compared to typically developing peers. Clearly, these positive points in terms of learning characteristics are essential when one wished to develop a suitable material for them. Balancing these contrasting characteristics has resulted in a painstaking task of teaching children with ASD. Teachers and researchers are faced with the challenge of innovative approaches that would be appropriate to address the learning characteristics of children with ASD. In addition to this challenge, acquiring math skills in general are essential for academic literacy. With their unique learning characteristics, children with ASD usually excel in mathematics because they can arrive at a definite answer when they grasped the logic of the correct answer. However, they may also struggle in mathematics because of the sophisticated verbal instructions accompanied with it. The sensory processing difficulties they possess may affect how they grasp the information during instructional time (Dunn Tomchek, 2007). A teaching approach that has been put forward and gained attention is the use of computer based instruction. According to Hetzroni and Tannous, (2004), computer based instruction pertains to the use of computers to teach educational skills and also encourage the development of communication and language skill. They further emphasized that it can be used in enhancing the overall learning of academic skills. A more recent form of computer-based instruction is the courseware. Courseware refers to an educational material kit for teachers or trainers for students, commonly parceled for use with a computer (Veluz, 2015) However, though there is need for this approach in the education for children with ASD, certain concerns were noted. According to Chong and Putnam, (2002) despite the availability of the said technology, few have access to it due to its complexity and high purchase price. They also asserted that technologies presently being used for ASD had limited considered ASDs unique characteristics. Furthermore, these technologies were designed for the typical users. Some foreign and local initiatives were made already. Hansen (2014) compared the computer-based software to the traditional math teaching methods and encouraged further study on software design and ability matching to children with ASD to identify features that makes a program effective them. In addition, Ramdoss, Lang, Mulloy, Franco, OReilly, Didden and Lancioni (2011) developed an individualized educational courseware program to teach a specific skill to a child with ASD. Andal (2013) identified possible design considerations for developing multimedia storytelling courseware for three preschool children with ASD. It is within these line previous initiatives that the researcher would like to further explore further phenomena behind what design considerations make suitable multimedia courseware for preschool children with ASD Thus, the unique characteristics of children with ASD come to be one of the considerations in this research pursuit. Moreover, the researcher was driven by the determination to address insufficiency of materials for them. a through a contextually designed supplementary material that suits their learning needs and characteristics. Review of Related Literature and Studies This chapter presents the conceptual and research literature and relevant studies that helped the researcher shape his present study. Contextualization of Instructions Contextualization has been defined as an instructional strategies designed to link the learning of foundational skills and academic or occupational content by focusing teaching and learning in a specific milieu that is of interest to the student (Mazzeo, Rab, Alssid, 2003) Learning Characteristics of Children with ASD ASD Spectrum Disorders refers to a condition characterized by severe and pervasive impairment in several areas of development reciprocal social interaction skills, communication skills, stereotyped behavior, interests and activities (American Psychological Association, 2000). It is generally described as a spectrum of characteristics that is difficult to contain as its impact on an individual may be totally different from the other individual with the same condition (Friend, 2011). Consequently, having this condition should not be a limitation to live as a productive member of the society. Moreover , Happe and Frith( 2006),stated that there are still positive points that are worth to be looked at regarding the learning characteristics of children with ASD Being visual learners, children with ASD characterized with good visual processing skills and detail focused processing skills despite having impairments that negatively impact their way of functioning in social interaction, communication and behavior . The localized processing enables them to have a detail-focused perception of given information which makes them capable of remembering the smallest detail of information that a typical person may not consider attending or remembering. According to Luckevich (2008), children with ASD also have strengths in memorization and reading. Such characteristics are proved by higher achievement score in test of nonverbal intelligence. Most children with ASD have excellent word recognition skills even with no formal instruction from school. For instance, they can read a selection in a fast pace but might not really understand its conceptual meaning. They may answer wh question but have a hard time answering the how. He further explained that such characteristics make children with ASD excellent in perceptual activities such as puzzle and scanning games. Their preference for having routine and structure when functioning in the environment may be capitalized and positively viewed as a learning avenue. They may find it easier understanding words with a picture than purely auditory medium. A person with ASD, Grandin (2006), claimed that he thinks in pictures. According to him, both the spoken and written languages are like a colorful movie with complete sounds. When he talks to another person, the words are instantly translated to pictures. He is also aware that this phenomenon is hard to comprehend, epecially to language – based learners and thinkers. He finds his visual thinking skill an advantage because of his profession as an equipment designer in the industry of livestock. As it has been pointed, the characteristics of children with ASD can be viewed as a set of difficulties. They often have irregular patterns of cognitive strengths and weaknesses with the majority of them having some and degree of intellectual disability. Their unique features sometimes create significant challenges for those who serve them (Friend, 2011).Furthermore, they also face difficulty in understanding the emotional and social meaning that goes with the language to communicate and interact with the environment. They may also process differently the information they see, hear, smell and touch when compared to a typical individual (Dunn Tomchek, 2007). The present study was inspired to take the challenge of addressing and capitalizing on the unique learning characteristics of pupils with ASD explained by the literatures in understanding ASD. Mathematics Skills Teachers cultivate literacy in childrenby exploring multiple opportunities to help build competence in Mathematics. Teachers knowledge of the math content provides facts and concepts to extend mathematical thinking. According to Alontaga (2009), numeracy skills have been considered as a basic skill that an individual must acquire to be literate. Possessing it enables an individual to deal with the simple and complex life functions. Numeracy skills, just like reading skills, are essential to survive the scholastic challenges. The development of math skills follows a continuum where the prerequisite skill must be established first before an individual can learn the higher concepts (Halpern, 2008). Math skills logically follow a continuum of interrelated skills. Any curriculum design for young children should be developmentally appropriate. The National Association for the Young Education, as cited by Smith (2009) enumerated two best practices in early childhood mathematics they are age appropriateness and individual appropriateness. The teacher must have a thorough knowledge of the physical, emotional and cognitive development of each age span. A six month old cannot run a foot race. Age appropriateness gives teachers these parameters. Every child has special interest, abilities and prior knowledge from home and culture. Individual appropriateness means that a good match is made between the learner and the curriculum. According to Piaget as cited by Smith (2009), physical knowledge about color, size and shapes is used to construct logical mathematical knowledge. Logical mathematical knowledge is concerned with important relationship that creates the early foundation of mathematical thinking. Teachers study the mathematical relationship of matching, classification, comparing, ordering or certain to guide their childrenin an appropriate way. He further said that number sense is using common sense in understanding the way the numbers and tools of measurement work within a given culture. It is a cognitive skill that is acquired informally. According to him, counting and number relationships develop slowly over the first seven years. Preschool children count in rote fashion. This ability has three prerequisite principles stable order rule, the one to one rule and the abstraction rule. The stable order rule means that the counting words used by adults are memorized in a certain order. Some children have one portion of the sequence stable, such as 1, 2, 3, and 4. The next part is repeated out of order on a consistent basis, such as 5, 7, and 6. Most children can count to 10 by the time they enter kindergarten. The one to one rule means that children say only one counting word for each object. Most teachers noticed that the accuracy of the count can is affected by the inefficient methods of keeping track of the counted objects of the counting sequence. When children master the standard sequence and keep of the total and the last number named, they arrived at the concept of cardinality, or matching a number to a set. Lastly, the abstraction rule means children understand that they can count dissimilar objects such as variety of farm animals (duck, chicken, and cow). In support of the aforementioned concept, Libertus and Brannon (2009) described early numeracy as an ability to approximate that leads representation and manipulation of items without the need of number words. They pointed that developing number sense is an important element in a well-designed math program. In addition, number sense gives a deeper knowledge that is essential in learning the more complex and more advanced mathematical concepts. Poorly developed number sense may lead to difficulties in understanding and acquiring the ability to count, identify, name and write numbers. They further supported findings on childrens math skills development of psychologists for many years. Developing number sense is an essential foundation for success of mathematics in the early years. There are essential pre- number concepts child must acquire namely sameness, matching, sorting, comparing, ordering, subtising (Boreman Rucker, n.d.). The concept of sameness develops when the child identifies which objects are similar. The concept of matching leads to understanding the concept of one-to-one correspondence. Matching becomes a prerequisite skill for more complex skill of conservation. Sorting is the ability to see the other attributes of the objects and the ability to group them (e.g. sorting plastic balls by color). The concept of comparing focuses on the ability to compare items in terms of different concepts like tall and short, big and small smooth and rough etc. This will contribute to understanding concepts such as more or less. Ordering is the ability to position items in an order so that they can be counted. Ordering is a prerequisite to ordering numbers. Subitising refers to the ability to recognize a number of small groups of items without actual counting and seeing it as a single unit. The Early Years Foundation laid a guide about what skills typical a child aged 2.5 to 5 years old should be capable grasp or talk about (British Association for Early Childhood Education, 2012).According to the aforementioned guide, children should identify, build and describe patterns of objects they explore and describe the characteristics of objects around them using the mathematical language they have learned. To give a clearer picture, Early Years Foundation (EYS) defined the skills of children aged 30-50 months. First, the child uses selected number names and number language spontaneously in play. Second, the student recites 1 to 10 in sequence. Third, the child identifies quantity in a set and understands numbers with the use of fingers, marking or pictures. He could match numbers and quantity properly and expresses simple comments that show interest. The child also shows curiosity regarding numbers compares two groups of objects and tells whether they have the same quantity. The child also displays an interest in numbers in the environment and in number representation. For children aged 40-60 , they are expected to recognize the personal significance of certain numbers, numerals 1 to 5,count up four items by saying one number name for each item, count objects which are stationary, count objects up to 10,count objects beyond 10 and count out up to six objects from a larger group. Comparing the pre-mathematics concept enumerated of Boreman and Rucker (n.d.) and basic math concepts of British Association for Early Childhood Education, It is worth noting that the skills are lifted in a pre -kindergarten perspective and that these skills are necessary as a pupil enters the kindergarten level up to the succeeding levels. In kindergarten, pre-mathematics skills refer to the math readiness competencies included in the kindergarten, K to 12 curriculum composed of number sense competencies. The development of math skills follows a continuum where the prerequisite skills are established first before an individual can learn the higher concepts (Halpern, 2008). These defined skills affirmed that the pre-mathematics skills in the curriculum for kindergarten pupils ASD should be developmentally appropriate, individually tailored and socio-culturally appropriate (Department of Education, 2012).. Kindergarten refers to the initial entry level of a learner under the K to 12 curriculum. Learning in this level is done through play and interest and not through pure discussion. This bill cited that educators should base pupils early experiences on play activities. With this, entering pupils with ASD in kindergarten could be helpful in addressing their needs. Social interaction and other strategies can also be used. According to Dizon and Sacris (2003), due to the nature of ASD and the unique challenges associated with the diagnosis. Teachers are having difficulty assisting childrenwith ASD because they have unique needs that could be hindrances for the teachers. Recognizing this obstacle, the use of curriculum modification was recommended and implemented in the forms of adaptations and accommodations to foster optimum learning based on individuals needs and potentials.It shall include an array of service of delivery options (Department Order 72,s 2009). Department of Education recommends the use of approaches that explicitly address the needs, instructional levels, and interests of the childrenand the use their mother tongue as medium of instruction. Curriculum modification envisions functional literacy among childrenwith ASD through the use of thematic and integrative strategies with the addition of applied behavior approach to achieve the learning goals across various domains. Furthermore, there is a need to develop their attention and memory which impact their early educational experiences. This was still in line with the aim of modifying their behavior in a socially acceptable way. The present study was inspired to take the challenge of providing pupils with ASD a material that would address their learning behavior while learning the pre-mathematics skills of the curriculum. ASD and Early Mathematics Concepts Strengths and Weaknesses With their unique learning characteristics, ASD leaners usually excel in mathematics because they can arrive at a definite answer when they grasp the logic of the procedure like in sequencing and matching .However, they may also struggle in mathematics because of the sophisticated verbal instructions accompanied with it and the sensory processing difficulties they possess which may affect how they grasp the information during instruction (Dunn Tomchek, 2007). In addition, the Ontario Ministry of Education (2007) stressed that sophisticated verbal instruction and the complexity of mathematical terminologies can be very challenging because of the childrenwith ASDs language processing difficulties. Most of them may also have fine motor problems which result to difficulty doing math activities with pen and paper. On the other hand, acquiring skills in matching, sorting and counting may be easy for individuals with ASD due to their unique detail processing style (Tucker, n.d.). Seemingly, they reach only a memorization level and learning the mathematical concept. They should not stop rote memorization, but instead, strive to acquire a level of conceptual understanding. Failure to acquire conceptual understanding of mathematical concepts may lead to errors in the future like spatial relationship, positional vocabulary, errors in number-word orders , difficulty with one one tagging, over counting, failure to understand that the last number in the a set content means its totality and errors in reading and writing numbers. In turn, childrenwith ASD who have a poor foundation of number sense and conceptual understanding may experience difficulty in counting, naming, remembering and writing numbers. (Schiller, n.d.) . The learning atmosphere also plays an important role in the struggle they faced in learning the concepts. Since parents and teachers have inadequate knowledge regarding the condition of ASD, they tend to treat childrenwith ASD in a way that they disregard their strengths and just focus on the impairments they have. This often leads to undesirable attitudes such lack of motivation and feeling of failure on learning (Savoie, n.d.). In the same vein, Sansosti et al. (2010) emphasized that focusing more on the strengths of childrenwith ASD can minimize the effects of their impairments. It is just a matter of appreciating more of what they are capable of doing rather than what they cannot do. For example, knowing that childrenwith ASD is more attuned to detail- focus processing style and routine , mastery may be attained easier if the concepts they are learning are presented in repetition. Sensory processing difficulties will have a lesser negative impact if stimulus presentation is structured (Happe Frith, 2006).Furthermore, taking advantage of their good visual processing skills encourages utilizing visual support in instructional delivery (Lantz, 2002). A successful instructional experience for childrenwith ASD is a matter of having a positive mindset towards them. Identifying things they are good at may increase the success rate in math instruction. More so, following a developmentally appropriate practice, math continuum, understanding that childrenwith ASD have strengths and weaknesses and developing materials based on their characteristics are just some points to be emphasized. Thus, an important point was given in striving to develop instructional interventions and strategies that appropriately address their traits and characteristics as learners. Using curriculum modification, childrenwith ASD could access the general education by simplifying the learning contents. In terms of pre-mathematics skills, the Department of Education prescribes that a student should be able to show understanding of basic mathematical concepts of size and length of the object, recite numbers in sequence, and copy numbers. Recognizing the unique characteristics of childrenwith ASD, adaptation in content and methodologies can be done, which result in a more individualized and inclusive learning environment. Computer -Based Intervention and Courseware for ASD Computers are gradually becoming part of the lives of young children. Since the world gets in more innovated technologies, integrating technology has been welcomed as an innovative practice not only in the general education but also in Special Education. For years, educators have been aware of the advantages of introducing childrento an enriched learning environment that reinforce the students primary learning style whether they are auditory kinesthetic or visual learners. Emiliani (2006) stressed that integrating technology in the Special Education setting has been supported by lots of investigation as it yields to beneficial results. Teaching math skills together with the integration of technology has been documented effective in the field of Special Education. Algrim-Delzell, Agnello, Jimenez and Knight (2009) affirmed that computer-aided instruction strategy is effective in teaching skills such as recognizing numbers and sorting and counting. In addition, Resanen, Salminen, Wilson, Aunio Dehaene (2009) stressed the improvements in number comparison skills of childrenwith low number skills in the kindergarten level when exposed to educational computer games. They claimed that childrenwith ASD are motivated by predictability and consistency .This is the reason computers are seamless assistive technology tools for learning. They put the student in the lead and facilitate learning and independent functioning. They further insisted that childrenwith ASD who use computers have increased attention span, can stay in their seats longer, improved fine motor skills and showed greater ability to generalize skills across environments. Computer use has been also instrumental in reducing excessive behaviors such as agitation, perseveration and self-stimulatory behaviors (Helfin Alaimo, 2007). Due to the enormous benefits computer can provide, it should be an integral part of Special Education, not just only us as a reward or during playtime. According to Silver and Oakes (2001), ASD population responds well to computer aided instruction programs. These programs offer predictable and stable results and never suffer from fatigue, unlike caregivers who invest much of their time and resources towards helping these students. Childrenwith ASD may pay more attention to computer programs than traditional learning environment. As a result, their learning potential can really increase with the use of these programs (Moore Culvert, 2000). Computer-based methods provide a very good way in educating childrenwith ASD. Researchers have documented positive gains of using computer- based interventions in teaching childrenwith ASD concepts and skills in identifying and predicting emotions, problem solving skills and reading skills. More so, it can be used in enhancing the overall learning of academic skills (Goldsmith Leblanc, 2004) Moore and Culvert (2000) commented on the efforts made to introduce computer assisted instruction as a means of relieving the burden of one on-one instruction for childrenwith ASD while creating a more efficient medium for intensive instruction. They said that childrenwith ASD find computer based intervention more interesting and motivating than teacher-based instruction. Furthermore, childrenspend more time paying attention when they work with computers. The development of computer -aided instruction for childrenwith ASD could lead to breakthroughs in overcoming the social, communication and behavior difficulties associated with ASD. In addition to many established benefits of computers in instructional technology, Silver and Oakes (2001) pointed out that there are several additional reasons why computer intervention programs appropriate choice for childrenwith ASD. Childrenwith ASD faced sensory overload, they cannot filter out unneeded sensory inputs. Placing a student at a computer terminal can help avoid the problem because only important information needs are displayed. The computer also provides an extremely stable environment. Furthermore, the computer has the ability to produce without fear of fatigue or boredom. The goals and expectations are transparent to the student and the program moves at his own pace, not one set by the instructor or other childrenin the class. This idea was supported by Tomorszki (2013) who elaborated that the predictable characteristic of the computer makes it less threatening for student with ASD. The computer – based technology employs visual presentation which is fitted to childrenwith ASD visual learning skills. More advanced technology addressed address the motor difficulties of ASD in manual dexterity in the form of touch screen function for navigational control. Communication skills are not the only target of computer intervention programs. Bernard-Opitz,Sriram, and Nakhoda-Sapuan (2001) said that childrenwith ASD can be trained on problem-solving strategies with the help of computer interfaces. They also encouraged investigation to establish whether computer-assisted instruction will generalize to spontaneous problem situations in real life. Silver and Oakes (2001) supported the use of computer -aided instruction in teaching about the emotions of others to childrenwith ASD. They further emphasized its positive effects in the social issues of childrenwith ASD. They also encouraged future assessment be done to determine whether these gains generalized into real life. In addition, Strickland, Marcus, Mesibov, and Hogan (1996) pointed out that virtual reality platform as a computer intervention be explored .They proposed that it is a promising tool in improving social skills, cognition, and functioning in ASD. The emergence of educational software more commonly known as courseware is a tool for teachers and parents since technological innovations are inevitable nowadays. Courseware refers to an educational material kit for teachers or trainers for students, commonly parcelled for use with a computer (Veluz, 2015).Courseware can include the material for instructor-led classes, material for self-directed computer-based training (CBT), web sites that offer interactive tutorials, material that is coordinated with distance learning, such as live classes conducted over the Internet and also videos for use individually or as part of classes However, though there is a need for a computer aided approach in the education for childrenwith ASD, certain concerns were noted. According to Chong Putnam (2002) despite the availability of the said technology for childrenwith ASD, few have access to it due to the complex means just to operate and high purchase price. In addition, they further emphasized that most computer based technologies currently being used for childrenwith ASD limitedly reflected on their unique characteristics and these technologies was designed and intended for typical students. The concerns stated previously were also the same in the Philippines. Most of the technologies, including courseware available in the market are intended for typical childrenwho have the normal learning ability. Veluz (2015) also stressed why technology has an increasingly essential role in helping Filipinos with ASD live purposeful lives. Children at an early age today are much inclined to technology. In consonance with interest based teaching, Department of Education encourages Special Education teachers to explore the use of new technologies to develop and enhance the overall skills of childrenwith ASD. The present study was inspired to take the challenge to address the insufficiency of local technology for pupils with ASD. In an educational context, the items on the Educational Software Evaluation Checklist by Back and Miller (2001) were usually used to evaluate the educational characteristics software courseware .The said checklist contained items that described what educational software should be. These criteria were instructional content, layout, accessibility, age / grade level appropriateness, learner engagement/ interactivity assessment, technical quality and graphics /multimedia .Instructional Content refers to the educational content and capability of the courseware. Layout refers to the arrangement of texts, pictures and illustrations in a courseware. Accessibility refers to the coursewares characteristic to be user-friendly in terms of usability. Age / Grade Level Appropriateness refers to the suitability of the courseware to the ability of its intended user. Learner Engagement/ Interactivity refers to the level of communication or contact that the courseware provides with its user. Assessment refers to the ability of courseware to monitor progress by evaluating outcome or response from the user .Technical Aspects refers to the program workability in terms of the links and resources used as part of the courseware. And Graphics / Multimedia refer to the qualities that pictures, sounds graphics and animations generate to optimize learning (Bach Miller, 2001). These criteria were adapted and modified by the researcher to fit the current studys nature, scope and variables served. Multimedia Approach for ASD The use of multimedia such as sound effects, graphics and animation design to hold the attention and interest of childrencan make the instructional sessions more interesting and motivating. Mayer (2009) who defined multimedia as the simultaneous use pictures, words music, graphics etc. claimed that people learn better from words and pictures rather than from words or pictures alone. Rosely (2007) pointed out that to deal with the limited attention span of childrenthe level of interactivity of sounds, music, color and animation can be designed creatively. For example, using comic sounds and vivid colors may motivate the childrento interact actively. Yet, careful planning should be considered so as not to overwhelm or over stimulate the student especially those with ASD who have sensory processing difficulties. They may also be distracted if multimedia are to be used in an excessive manner. Games are one of the usual methods that teachers used to enhance learning. According to Ang and Zaphiris (2005), the use of such approach supports childrento construct learning based on experiences. They also mentioned that during ancient times board games were already used to stimulate and challenge the students mind. In the course of playing the game, the reward that the player gets after playing attributes to its motivating and entertaining characteristics. The emergence of computer games from unsophisticated, simple games possess the same nature and characteristics to teach, at the same time, entertain its user. In a storyboard reflection, Gurney (2012) emphasized that the instructional experiences in using multimedia approach should follow a science of instruction. In other words, the methods used to create evidence based practices and principles to help people learn must be derived from the multimedia learning principles. She also asserted that the principles in multimedia learning are not universal .These are just given to guide in utilizing a multimedia approach. Still, the characteristics of the users are the primary guidelines in determining the principles to be adapted.In the context of childrenwith ASD. Gurney (2012) enumerated six principles possibly suited in their context. First is segmentation which tells the multimedia lessons should be presented following the learners pace segment than continuous whole unit .This is because ASD is a complex disorder, childrenwith ASD may require breaking down concepts into parts. By breaking concept onto different segment reduced the sensory and cognitive overload experienced by most them. Second is personalization which tells that learning is better when words used are presented in conversational style than a formal style. Because childrenwith ASD have difficulty in task engagement, this could help them be engaged. This provides a one on one atmosphere using conversational and informal language within the text and audio narration. Communicating with a friendly human voice and using polite expression creates a conversational tone. Third is the coherence which tells that learning is better when necessary materials are only included. Text and graphics that are relevant materials were combined and aligned with the delivery of instructions. The visual support helps clear up complex concepts.Fourth is modality which tells that learning is better with the use of printed text and narration than graphics and printed text. In the absence of visuals to explain instruction, providing the printed text with audio narration is better for childrenwith ASD provided that there is control over audio. Fifth is multimedia which tells that words and pictures encourage more than words alone. Since childrenwith ASD lack motivation, plain text discussion may not be effective. Systematically presenting words, pictures, sounds and animation could motivate and encourage learners with ASDto actively participate. And last is voice which tells that learning is better when the multimedia messages are delivered using a friendly human voice than a machine generated voice .Since childrenwith ASD have difficulty recognizing the mental states of others, using a friendly human voice to deliver the multimedia message can serve as a strategy to encourage critical thinking skills. These principles provided direction to support for childrenwith ASD. Following these principles would increase their motivation, attention and compliance to do multimedia related tasks since it accorded to their unique needs and learning styles. Merging computer -aided instruction and multimedia approach to introduce, develop and enhance an educational concept, the researcher may produce a courseware. According to Rosely (2007) courseware can be defined as computer software that provides instructional material to learners. It is an educational material kit for teachers or trainers for students, commonly parcelled for use with a computer. A courseware that incorporates multimedia elements can result to more beneficial outcomes by minimizing the difficulties in the learning process. He said that a multimedia courseware is a method which is conducted in a digital environment systematically designed with media elements such as sound effects, graphics and animation. In support of this idea, Adam and Tatnall, (2008) described that a multimedia courseware approach engages the learners different senses. Several foreign and local studies presented below were used as the researchers guidelines in making his own study. Descriptive Researches on Courseware Design Considerations for ASD Specific user characteristics are very important to come up with a suitable material. The multimedia courseware could be designed by carefully considering the context of the pupils with ASD. This holds true when dealing with them. Davis et.al (2007), in their study entitled Creating software to promote understanding about narrative in children with ASD used six (6) childrenwith ASD to describe how each reacted to consequent feedback from the software. The analysis prompts reflected in the uniqueness of children with ASD and the challenge to create supportive learning environments for them. The study enumerated design issues that are relevant when striving to develop a computer- based intervention for childrenwith ASD First, the design of the computer -based intervention should be dominated by visual representation or visual support since childrenwith ASD are, in majority, visual learners and have good visual processing skills. More so, easily recognizable materials could be provided. Second, the interface design of the computer based program should be simple. Childrenwith ASD are more accustomed to detail focus processing of information which means they see details in chunk rather than the whole meaning. Making the interface simple would make it easier for childrenwith ASD to comprehend the information if necessary materials are only included. Third, design the computer program in such a way that the sounds and other multimedia elements should be capable of being adjusted. Childrenwith ASD have unusual response to sensory stimuli. They may perceive differently the same sensory inputs compared to typical students. The capability of the sounds and other multimedia elements to be adjusted could address the possible sensory overload that a student with ASD may have while working with the computer. Fourth, design the computer program with easy to follow sequence of procedure. Button for the subsequent task must be provided. Childrenwith ASD love to have predictability in their environment that is why having a visual cue to signify the next procedure could be helpful. Fifth, the computer based program should be designed with simple navigation features. Childrenwith ASD usually have poor fine motor skills specifically hand dexterity. Design the computer based program in such a way that the movement or navigation from one stage to another, one area to another could address the manual dexterity issues of childrenwith ASD. Lastly, the computer program should be designed with the encouraging feedback. Since childrenwith ASD can easily be frustrated with errors, including an encouraging feedback could lessen their anxiety when an error is committed. Furthermore, the reinforcement schedule could encourage the user to engage and continue with the game more because they have understood that by performing or finishing a task at a certain degree there will be a reward that follows. More so, selecting the most desired reinforcement can also influence the users motivation to perform the task. In dealing with the aforementioned considerations for a multimedia courseware on pre-mathematics skills of childrenwith ASD, an instrument for evaluating the courseware design in connection to the user characteristics should be used. In the same vein, Andal (2013) in his study entitled Design considerations for developing an educational multimedia storytelling courseware for children with ASD. Using three (3) preschool children with ASD, he documented how each responded in a draft courseware .The results enumerated possible design considerations for a multimedia courseware that hoped to deal with learning characteristics and needs of children with ASD First, the need for predictability and sameness is one of the concerns of developing a courseware for childrenwith ASD. This is why a developer should be careful in providing the level of control as well as the presentation of prompt so as to avoid the tendency to skip information. With this regard, using a balance of a nonlinear and linear plot will avoid the tendency to activate rote memory which may impact conceptual understanding of the concept being taught. Second, the varying sensory processing needs of children with ASD lead to being hypo or hypersensitive to stimuli, thus, difference in the way of responding, providing control over the different medium may address as it would be adjusted to fit their level. Third, it was also further emphasized that most children with ASD possess problems with manual dexterity fatigue and weak grasp. Making the courseware capable of working on a touchscreen interface could address their difficulty because it could be easier to navigate in addition to the fact that most children with ASD are acquainted with touchscreen gadgets like the iPad and android devices. The way children with ASD use the courseware is impacted by the way they navigate the courseware. Fourth, children with ASD could have the tendency to depend on prompts. With the said characteristics, using corrective feedbacks would be better than just warning sounds if an error is committed. Fifth, children with ASD might get frustrated with technical errors while working on the courseware. Simple technical errors like not working links, delayed feedback would affect their motivation as they might be frustrated. Therefore, the developer should see to it that the courseware is free from technical errors. Another, most children with ASD tend to focus on detail an account by the weak central coherence. With this, simple courseware design and transition would lessen overstimulation. Lastly, children with ASD have difficulty recognizing whether their answer is right or wrong. This could be addressed by designing the courseware with easy to recognize visual like emoticon, an image of a facial expression to express the feelings or intended tone. This could address the issue as they can comprehend that a smile and sad face would mean to correct and incorrect answers respectively. The following above mentioned descriptive researches helped the researcher identify possible design features that could be helpful developing the multimedia courseware. Developmental Researches on Courseware Development A foreign study by Muda (2006) entitled Storytelling approach in multimedia courseware focused on creating a courseware which introduced science concepts to typically developing preschool childrenwho possess problem behaviors such as inattention and hyperactivity. The study recorded changes in the participants behavior. The study found out that there was an increase in attention span of the participants during instructional sessions and that frequent standing during the lesson presentation of childrenwere lessened. Another foreign study conducted Hassan,Zahed, Zohora, Moosa,Salam, Rahman, Ferdous and Ahmed (2011) entitled Developing the concept of money by interactive computer games for autistic children presented a computer game based storytelling that helped childrenwith ASD understand money concept. The said game also helped teach appropriate social behavior while shopping. The results of the study revealed that a computer game form of delivery was good for childrenwith ASD as they become more motivated and engaged. The said study revealed that too much material displayed at once made the childrenconfused sometimes as they become overwhelmed in processing the information. Recommending careful designing of computer based games. The study by Hetzroni and Tannous (2004) entitled Computer-based intervention program on the communicative functions of children with ASD created an interactive courseware I Can Word It Too that aided in improving the communicative functions among childrenwith ASD. The results showed that childrenproduce sentences with less delayed and irrelevant speech and echolalia. It also showed increased communicative intent and functional communication skills, both expressive and receptive area of young childrenwith ASD that used it. Ramdoss et.al, (2011) in their study Use of computer-based interventions to teach communication skills to children with ASD spectrum disorders developed an educational courseware program called BALDI/TIMO to aid in teaching a particular skill to a student with ASD. The said program has an individualization feature that could address the particular needs of its user. It also has an additional interface option where the teachers can freely design a lesson by uploading images. These studies emphasized that it is necessary to develop programs that are tailored-fit for ASD users. Another foreign study by Roslan ( 2012 ) developed a prototype courseware for children with moderate ASD. The courseware Iqra learning courseware and is aimed to help children understand the concept of number, acquire and apply the basic skills in mathematics in their life. The integration of two concepts, Drill and Practices and Discrete Trial Training (DTT) are chosen models in its systems design. One of the local initiatives was that of Darcen (2001) who conducted a study entitled Development and validation of a reading courseware to develop the vocabulary skills of childrenwith ASD. He made use of a descriptive and developmental research design which involved five phases. The result of her research showed that childrenwith ASD respond to new materials, but the instructional design should consider the learners unique profile so that it will be more effective and appropriate for the target user. Another local study by Andal (2014) entitled Development and evaluation of an educational multimedia storytelling for children with ASD which was designed to assist teachers in introducing number sense to preschool children with ASD. Using an instructional systems design, he crafted a storytelling courseware with contents from a foreign source and tested it to children with ASD. The researcher also extracted possible design considerations for developing a multimedia technology specifically for children with ASD. Considerations were given which are helpful in creating appropriate materials for these children. The findings were believed to be a good reference for future studies with the same nature. The principles processes, methodologies employed in the studies mentioned above serve as the guide of the researcher to come up with a new study in line with the needs of the pupils with mentioned in the conceptual literature. Synthesis The related studies, ideas and concepts of different authors were considered to give substance to the content of this study. Concepts about developmentally appropriate mathematical skills were given light by the ideas from Alontaga(2009), Halpern(2008), Smith(2009), Libertus and Brannon(2009), Boreman and Rucker (n.d), and Dizon and Sacris (2003) Dizon and Sacris(2002 ) ,Mitchell and Rejendran(2007), Sansosti et al.(2010), Osteling and Dawson(1994), Landa(2000), Frith(2003), Plaisted(2001), McKenzie et al.(2010), Dun and Tomchek(2007), Chen et al. (2009), Attwood(2007), Rogers and Ozonoff (2005), Lane et al.(2010) and Helfin and Alaimo (2007) highlighted the characteristics and theories on ASD. Learning characteristics of childrenwith ASD were reviewed by Happe and Frith(2006), Luckevich(2008) ,Grandin(2006). ASD and Mathematics concepts were tackled by Tucker (n.d), Schiller (n.d), Savoie (n.d), Sansosti et al. (2010) and Lantz (2002). Their ideas gave the researcher different views on the best practices in teaching childrenwith ASD and their impact to students performance. Computer-based intervention ASD was given emphasis by Algrim et al.(2009), Resanen et al.(2009), Helfin and Alaimo (2007), Silver and Oakes(2001), Moore and Culvert(2000), Tomorszki (2013), Bernard-Opitz (2001), Strickland et al.(1996), Chong Putnam (2002) and Veluz(2015). Multimedia, as an approach to hold the interest and attention of childrenwith ASD was discussed by Rosely(2007), Ang and Zaphiris(2005) and Gurney(2012). Davis et al. (2007), and Andal(2013) dwelt on tailored fit materials to be used in teaching childrenwith ASD and possible design consideration the meet their learning needs. On the other hand, Bach Miller (2001) dwell on the criteria for an educational software or courseware The concepts and ideas of Muda (2006),Hansen (2014) Hassan et al.(2011) about the use of courseware in introducing learning concepts to childrenwith ASD were taken to provide essence to this study. Their thoughts about how teachers struggle with how to deal with childrenwith ASD were given due consideration. Information from Hetzroni, and Tannous (2004), Ramdoss et al. (2011) Roslan ( 2012 ) and Darcen (2001) were also given importance. Their ideas present the different programs that feature interactive courseware that aid in teaching particular skill to children with ASD. Also of importance was the work of Andal (2014) which presented courseware design in storytelling and tested it to children with ASD. The mentioned studies provide a critical bridge between teaching and ASD. Their studies were similar to the present study in the sense that they also determined the characteristics of childrenwith ASD. Yet, their studies were different because they focused on other curriculum while the present study concentrated kindergarten pre-mathematics skills. Evidently, there were some similarities in the mentioned studies to the present work, but this studys scope, purpose and variables served as its own unique features. [email protected] / O dQYKsVl/SXnXHH 6 vWo7N96eKoGTLk,E
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