Experiences of Fatigue with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students (Session 11B)
Main Topic: Deaf Community
Session Type: Paper
Co-authors: Natalia Rohatyn-Martin, Early Learning & Community Studies, MacEwan University; Denyse Hayward, Educational Psychology, University of Alberta
Background: Research has shown that classrooms comprise an ongoing array of cognitive, visual, auditory, and attentional demands (Rohatyn-Martin & Hayward, 2016). Students who are Deaf and hard of hearing (D/HH) must navigate these demands with varying hearing levels amidst competing auditory sounds (e.g., teacher’s voice, chair movements, hallway conversations). However, the effort needed to focus simultaneously on the information presented auditorily and visually across multiple, overlapping speakers for up to six hours a day, five days a week has a lasting impact on social and educational outcomes for D/HH students (Howard et al., 2010). The increased effort needed to learn contributes to greater levels of fatigue that is compounded when students are denied resources known to minimize fatigue. While fatigue has been acknowledged as one explanatory factor for lower academic outcomes for D/HH students, fatigue is poorly understood by educational stakeholders (i.e., educators, parents, and policymakers). Unfortunately, these stakeholders rarely consider the daily cognitive, visual, auditory, and attention demands students who are D/HH face that may result from fatigue (Marschark et al., 2012). Teaching teams often do not understand the importance of educational support in mitigating fatigue, and frequently misconstrue ineffective coping behaviors as a lack of motivation, and mislabel fatigue symptoms as laziness, stubbornness, or a behavioral problem (Dalton, 2013). Students, themselves, often disregard fatigue symptoms or internalize the causes, have limited or maladaptive coping strategies, and minimize the serious consequences these actions have on their learning and academic success.
Methods: The present study conducted focus groups with three post-secondary-students who identify as D/HH. One student communicated orally, one student communicated in American Sign Language (ASL), and one student who was a dual-language communicator (oral and ASL). Students were asked about their educational experiences that supported or impeded their learning, fatigue triggers, effective and ineffective coping mechanisms, and advocacy strategies. Having participants who communicated orally, in ASL, or through both languages allowed us to capture nuanced experiences based on cultural and communication modes used by D/HH students in schools. Furthermore, D/HH post-secondary students are uniquely positioned since these are individuals who have been successful in their educational experiences in highly competitive academic environments, which will provide insight into what fatigue is like for them and the coping strategies that have supported their success.
Data analysis: Interview data has been analyzed to explore emergent themes, ideas, and relationships between themes and ideas. Analysis of the qualitative data, themes, and concepts identified added to our understanding of the fatigue experiences of D/HH post-secondary students and its impact on their cognitive, physical, and social-emotional life and will be discussed during this presentation.
- What are post-secondary D/HH students’ experiences of fatigue in educational settings?
- How has fatigue impacted post-secondary D/HH students’ education?
- What are post-secondary D/HH students’ strategies to mitigating fatigue?
Keywords: fatigue, Deaf and hard of hearing students, educational context
Dr. Shiva Zarezadeh kheibariUniversity of Alberta - Graduate Research Assistant
University of Alberta
I’m interested in the field of clinical psychology, with a focus on developmental psychology. My research interests center around improving mental health outcomes for children with special needs in educational settings. My current research involves developing a survey for recognizing fatigue and its consequences in educational settings for deaf and hard of hearing children.