Practice and Theory in Systems of Education

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Editorial Board

Volume 7 Number 4 2012
ISSN 1788-2591 (Online)
ISSN 1788-2583 (Printed)

Emese PAJOR & Valéria CSÉPE:
A Possible Explanation of Braille Letter Confusion. Spatial, Memory and Language Functions,
pages 359-376

The present study is part of a major research project designed for investigating the background of Braille letter confusion. The research focuses on the spatial processing (e.g. mental rotation), language functions as well as on verbal memory functions of 7-11 year old children. 104 blind and sighted children matched for age, VQ were taking part in the investigation. Four experimental groups were created: 1) blind-low birth weight premature, 2) blind-full term, 3) sighted-low birth weight premature and 4) sighted-full term. Two different tasks were used for investigating the spatial processing; the Mosaic task (from ITVIC test) and a mental rotation task. This special mental rotation task (FDT as 'Flat Doll Task') usable both for blind and sighted children was designed and developed by us. For to Memory functions measured by using verbal working-memory and verbal long term memory tasks were investigated. Scores of three standardised tests (the Hungarian non-word repetition and listening span tests and the digit span test, RAVLT) were compared for the four experimental groups. The language functions were measured by using a verbal fluency and a phonological awareness test. Results of the psychological tests were compared to those of the letter confusion present in the Braille used by blind and in the traditional writing used by sighted children. The main purpose of our study was to shed light on the possible similarities and differences of letter confusion occurring in the two different writing systems based either on tactile or visual information, where three basic functions were assumed to contribute to a different extent to letter confusion.

Sensory-Perceptual Deficiencies and Possible Consequences in Autism,
pages 377-394

Difficulties and peculiarities of sensory and perceptual experiences in autism since long have been acknowledged, however, autism research has greatly focused on problems of cognitive processing, such as difficulties in using "mindreading" skills. Much research has been generated by major theories of autism that concentrate on the cognitive side, but it has become clear that gaps in explanations for autism spectrum disorder still exist. A line of new research calls for a better understanding of the so far rather neglected role of sensory - perceptual difficulties in autism. In this paper we brifly review theories of autism, emphasizing the role of sensory - perceptual processes in understanding autism spectrum disorder. We present findings of an exploratory study in which we compared the way typically developing children and children with autism perceive the world and select information. We used Bogdashina's Sensory Profile Checklist Revised (SPCR) in a sample of 30 healthy children (age 2-7) and 17 children diagnosed with autism (age 2-7.5). The questionnaires surveying the current and retrospective sensory profiles of children were filled out by the parents. Results suggest that autistic individuals' sensory - perceptual patterns are different from the control group in several respects. We suggest that perceptual differencies in autism need to be studied to provide efficient therapies and also because understanding sensory-perceptual processes in autism will contribute to theoretical develoment in the field.

Beáta GRABOVAC & Csaba PLÉH:
An Intercultural Study on Perceiving Emotions in Vojvodina through the Emotional Stroop Task,
pages 395-406

The aim of this research is to map the possible differences between monolinguals and bilinguals from Vojvodina in their emotional functioning. Ethnically, the dominant group living in Vojvodina is Serbian, which uses Serbian language, but there is a minority group which mostly uses Hungarian in family and educational settings. This way bilinguals from Vojvodina are mostly using Hungarian as a dominant language, but they are under a powerful impact of Serbian from their early childhood years. In many cases the language of education in bilinguals is mixed in the sense that they go to Hungarian secondary school and then to Serbian university (or the opposite). In the psychology of bilingualism there is a current debate about the structure of the emotional world of a bilingual person. It is still an open question whether the emotional words have the same intensity in the mental lexicon of the mother tongue and the second language. Many researchers have the view that the mother tongue is the language that dominates upon the emotional expressivity. In our research we used a new version of the emotional Stroop task with participants who are now studying either in Serbian or in Hungarian and are Hungarian monolinguals or Hungarian-Serbian bilinguals. We wanted to investigate the question of emotional charge of these two languages. Daniel Algom and his colleagues inspired us, because they have modified the emotional Stroop task to improve it by using two-word idiomatic expressions. Their aim was to match the two types of words, the neutral and the negative case on all confounding characteristics. It is well known that extraneous variables have a high impact on results of the emotional Stroop task, as for example frequency or word length. Using expressions with the same target words with neutral or negative prime words Algom et al. managed to eliminate this obstacle. We selected Hungarian and Serbian two-word expressions, matched in translation, to see whether we can find the emotional Stroop interference: a slowdown effect for the negative words compared to their neutral counterparts in Vojvodinian participants. Our results did not show the Stroop interference effect, but we have found differences between the monolingual and bilingual group.

The Concept of Students' Cognitive Activity in the Pedagogical Work,
pages 407-418

What does it mean when we say that "student is active" or "student is not active" in the pedagogical process? This paper points out that the main aim of learning in school is acquiring one specific type of knowledge, scientific knowledge, and knowledge from different science areas. Scientific knowledge represents an organised and regulated system of concepts, definitions, descriptions and regulations that can be achieved by the intensive curiosity, directed observation and focus. In other words, scientific knowledge can be obtained through cognitive activity, mental processes and thinking through symbols. The paper considers the possibility of organising the teaching process that will enhance the construction of new scientific concepts on the basis of the existing, spontaneously acquired concepts that will further bring a child into a cognitive conflict followed by a cognitive activity. The paper deals with the almost ignored emotional component of the learning process and its influence on the cognitive activity. To explain all this we will bring up some achievements of modern neuroscience and the defined concept of the cognitive dysfunction.

Research of the Elderly Population's Learning Needs and Opportunities in Somogy County,
pages 419-426

In our research we would like to give information about the elder age population's learning needs and opportunities in our residence, in Somogy county. Main areas of the analysis are their physical and intellectual activities and their motivation onto the accomplishment of the community activities and the forming of the informal learning manners. Eurostat data shows participation in education of the 25-64 year age groups, but there are no relavant data for this age group in Hungary. In Hungary the age of students who participate in an adult education and training outside the school system relates to 55 years age group and above. The gerontology research did not receive wide-ranging publicity yet in the South-Transdanubian region's area of Somogy. We believe, that our results may be useful for the region and for our residence, Somogy county.

The Relationship between the Motivation to Learn and Selected Indicators,
pages 427-438

The research on motivation to learn as an indicator of the quality education is part of the Modern education for the knowledge-based society project / Project is co-financed from EU resource. The sample consists of 2690 1st year students of secondary school. We used an M-2 questionnaire to determine the students' motivation to learn. The goal was to determine whether the differences in motivation to learn depend on sex and type of school. The differences were shown between the motivation of men and women in favor of women. Among the schools, depending on either the founder or the type of the school, the difference was not proved. In total, students are considered to be sufficiently motivated.

Prevention of the Use of Psychoactive Substances Among 5th to 7th Graders,
pages 439-452

The purpose of the study is to outline the trends in the use of legal drugs among students from the 5th to the 7th grades and to pinpoint the problematic aspects and measures for implementation of a school-based program for prevention of the use of psychoactive substances. The subject of the study is the dependence between risk factors and prevention factors with regard to the use of drugs among students in the context of development of a school-based program for prevention of the use of psychoactive substances. The study was conducted by means of questionnaires in 2010/2011 among 1161 students from the 5th to the 7th grade from ten schools on the territory of the city of Varna. The following were adopted as indicators of the evaluation of the use of tobacco and alcohol. The risk factors and the preventive factors related to the role of the family and the friends, the individual and personal characteristics of the students and the pedagogical aspects of the implementation of a school-based program for prevention of the use of psychoactive substances. The initial introduction of the school-based program for prevention of the use of psychoactive substances must anticipate the transformation of incidental use into regular use. A model of school-based program to prevent drug use is presented. The program builds on an on-going three-year prevention among teenagers from the 5th to the 7th grade in three schools in Varna. It is run by a team of teachers/experts and young volunteers. The structure and the aspects of the program are presented.

The Roles and Challenges of Municipal Education Directorates (MED) in a Context of School Decentralization in Kosovo,
pages 453-466

Since the end of the war in Kosovo in 1999, education has gone through many reforms. Initially, the former Education Department led by UNMIK has attracted many powers, creating new regulations on education that have significantly changed legislative context which regulates education in Kosovo. Education system became centralized. With the establishment of the first Government of Kosovo, in March of 2002, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (hereinafter "MEST") took authority over the education, based on the Constitutional Framework of Kosovo. Today, more than twelve years after the war, the educational system has undergone many reforms. However, it cannot be said that decentralization of education has made concrete progress. Decentralization of education in Kosovo has become a process of delegation of powers from central to local level but not to schools. In a decentralized system, schools were required to take major responsibility in planning, managing and improving quality of services they provide. Currently, Kosovo municipalities and schools are facing limited capacity to turn it into reality. The aim of this paper is to present an overview on the reforms that are implemented in the educational system in Kosovo, in particular towards the decentralization of education and creation of legal basis for regulating this process. In this paper, except the so far achievements in the process of decentralization of education, there are also presented and analyzed the existing laws on pre- university education and the roles and responsibilities of each party involved in the process of decentralization. Another purpose of this paper is to investigate the difficulties that Municipal Education Directorates (hereinafter "MED") are facing in transferring the powers over the budget and staff management to the school level. Individual interviews have been conducted face to face with seven Municipal Directors of Education (hereinafter "MDE") in seven municipalities in Kosovo. The results of this paper show that there is a lack of legal basis for decentralization of education and inconsistency between laws and administrative instructions. The common difficulties that MEDs are facing are lack of budget, lack of capacities and lack of legislation for implementing the decentralization of education.

Katalin RÁCZ:
Relationship between Balancing Ability and School Readiness,
pages 467-478

The developmental level of the nervous system has a very important role in successful learning. The maturation of the nervous system determines the quality of motor coordination and intellectual functions. The lack of the information processing which can be connected to cerebrospinal procedures has a very important role in the development of partial function or partial skill disorders appearing during nursery school years. Although special tests can reveal the malfunction, the different motion development can also call the attention to them. Out of the direct indices of the central nervous system, the most determining area is the maturity of the balancing system. Our research began in September 2005 in Budapest in Meséskert Kindergarten. After parental approval, the motion of 105 children was measured with the test of Basic Therapy (BT). To study school maturity we used the DIFER (Diagnostical Appraising System). The children were rated according to their DIFER index into school mature (n=63) and school immature (n=42) groups. We divided our research into two parts. In the first part of our study we analysed the results of BT. The aim was to compare the motion maturity of these two groups with nine motion groups, focusing on their balancing ability. The aim was to show connections between balancing ability and critical cognitive skills measured by DIFER. In our research the level of the balancing ability was tested also by a special instrument, the Stabilometer, which is a 60X60 cm sized instrument fixed to springs at its four corners attached to a personal computer. The stabilometer fixed the fluctuation of the body-mass-centre. Our aim was to corroborate the differences of the balancing abilities of the two groups with this special instrument. The data analysis was made with StatSoftStatistic program. The results were that the balancing ability of school immature children is weaker than that of their mature mates, especially in the case when they had to execute tasks with closed eyes.

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