Authors: Avent J, Patterson J, Lu A, Small K
Title: Reciprocal scaffolding treatment: A person with aphasia as clinical teacher
Source: Aphasiology 2009 23(1): 110-119
Year: 2009
Research Design: Single Case Design

Background: Reciprocal Scaffolding Treatment (RST) is one of several potentially beneficial life participation approaches for aphasia. In RST, treatment occurs during genuine, relevant, and context dependent interactions that represent goals at the activity and participation levels of the World Health Organization International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF; World Health Organization, 2001) and is based on an apprenticeship model of learning where novices are taught skills by a more skilled partner. RST was used to construct a communicatively challenging environment in which an expert with aphasia (AE) taught novices (graduate student clinicians) how to communicate with persons with aphasia in the context of conversation group treatment sessions. This is in contrast to many treatment techniques when the person with aphasia is the novice who is trying to relearn communication skills during treatment sessions with a speech-language pathologist as the expert. Aims: The goal of the study was to investigate the effect of RST on improvement in word retrieval and conversational components in an individual with anomic aphasia. Methods Procedures: This was a case study using pretreatment - post treatment assessment. The independent variable was application of RST and the contextual variables were the presence of novices (graduate student clinicians) and unfamiliar conversation partners (undergraduate speech-language pathology students). The dependent variables were scores on a word fluency task (FAS) and conversational measures (CIUs and TTR). Over the course of a seven week training period, AE taught communication strategies to four novice graduate student clinicians, who used the strategies in conversation groups composed of 3 to 4 persons with aphasia. Outcomes Results: The individual with aphasia made positive changes in word fluency, Correct Information Units and Type-Token Ratio. Conclusions: These findings, while preliminary in nature, show how the authentic use of language in structured reciprocal interactions such as teaching may improve language. A reciprocal teaching environment carries with it the expectation that at least one participant have an intent to participate as an expert in order to convey information to novices. We speculate that the combination of reciprocal interaction and the intent to convey information, in this case in a unique manner, support improved language skills.

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