"The Emergentist Model: A framework for working with youth offenders with pragmatic difficulties".
Finch, Sarah Elizabeth
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Background: Research has shown that up to 60% of youth offenders (YO) have speech and language communication needs. Pragmatics is an aspect of communication which is concerned with meaning in context, inference and interpretation and how we use language in various situations. Perkins’ Emergentist model is a holistic approach to pragmatics. Perkins views pragmatics as the emergent consequence of interactions between linguistic, cognitive and sensorimotor processes. Aims: The aims of this study are (1) to investigate the opinions of professionals who work with YO concerning the YO communication skills. (2) Develop a questionnaire and semi-structured interview based on Perkins Emergentist model. (3) to highlight the possibility of Perkins’ Emergentist model being used as a framework by these professionals in identifying pragmatic difficulties in YO. Methods & Procedures: A total of 27 participants consisting of psychologists, police officers, probation officers and youth offending practitioners were selected from a snowball method of sampling. Participants completed a questionnaire developed from Perkins’ Emergentist model. The questionnaire used a Likert-scale of strongly agree to strongly disagree. Correlational analysis of the ordinal data used Spearman’s Rho to attain a correlation coefficient. Subsequently 2 participants, a psychologist and probation officer were then selected to participate in a semi-structured interview which were transcribed and analysed using content analysis. Outcomes & Results: The results show a significant to moderate positive coloration in 3 out of the 6 proposed hypotheses. These results indicate that YO have deficits with linguistic and non-linguistic elements of Perkins’ Emergentist model. Results concerning the sensory element resulted in non significant weak correlations. These results could be an outcome of the limitations of the study. Conclusions: A far as the researcher is aware this is the first study to uses Perkins’ Emergentist model as a possible framework to facilitate professionals who work with youth offenders in identifying possible pragmatic disorder. A limitation of this study is the lack of validity in the design of the questionnaire in regards to the sensory element of Perkins’ Emergentist model. Further research is required concerning sensory deficits in YO in order to support the proposal of Perkins’ Emergentist model being used as a possible framework for professionals who work with YO.
B.Sc. (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy
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