Researching Homework Problems

research gaps

Researching homework problems

Parenting is a hard job.  When your child begins to have difficulties with homework, parents often panic. Is it my fault? What can I do? Our minds, race. Will they ever learn to read?  How come I have to keep repeating myself so much? Why won’t he sit down and just do his work? Why won’t they read with me like they are supposed to do every night? Before we know it, we are in a whirlwind of action, based on our worries and concerns for our child’s future.

The afterschool time when kids and parents struggle to complete homework assignments can be the most dread time of the day.  Parents who receive glowing reports from school are confused by their kids unwillingness to do homework.  Children who have spent all day in school struggling to get their work done want nothing to do with school work.

Oh, I have been here. A parent once said that this time of day resulted in her depression. Sometimes this is the first time that major conflict between parent and child has occurred that is out of the parents control. This is a journey of discovery to learn more about your child and discover the complexities of their personalities and learning style. It is also a time to line up the interventions and work on the problems. The earlier, the better! First step, identify the problem.   You have talked with the teacher, pediatrician, and received the evaluations. Second step, research!

Speech and language is an area that often impacts students negatively in a variety of ways. However, it is difficult to find unbiased research about effective interventions for many reasons. Speech pathologist’s work with people that have speech and language disabilities and because of this it is unethical to deny clients treatment.   Because of this speech and language studies often don’t have same deficit control groups. A control group study means that one group receives treatment and the other group does not. This is not ethical when denying treatment can have a lifelong impact. There is a type of research used where the researcher uses a same deficit control groups.  In this type of study, one group receives treatment while the other group does not, but then the second group received treatment in the second arm of the study which means ultimately both groups receive treatment. Most of the time same deficit control groups are not used because of the ethical problem of denying treatment unless there is a way to provide the control group with treatment at a later time.

Another problem with research studies in speech-language pathology is that it is difficult to know if the treatment actually caused the result or if there were other factors influencing the result like test format or environment.   An example of bias commonly accepted from research is that people with Asperger syndrome are said to not have language problems.  They excel at language in research studies because they thrive when responding to the predictable short answer or one word format of speech language tests.  People with Asperger syndrome do well with structured language activities they have difficulty with the unpredictable language in unstructured activities. Unstructured language is harder to measure.  Some studies may appear to give a particular result, but the result may be impacted but another unknown factor.

Finally, publication bias can also impact our ability to identify effective evidence based treatment. Science journals often favor publishing positive study results over negative ones. In order to assess whether a treatment is effective you must see all negative and positive research results.  More often positive results are published over negative one. The negative data is needed to provide a complete view of the study results.

There are gaps and deficits in the study results of evidence based treatment. Results can be influenced by publication bias, lack of a control group, and outcomes can be influenced by unknown factors making research difficult to interpret and use. However in spite of the fact that studies are bias using the information to identify possible treatment approaches to fit your child’s speech and language weaknesses is helpful.

Here is more about publication bias and how it impacts doctors prescribing medicine.  We aren’t the only ones influenced.



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