Meet Dr Kaye Scott, REDI PhD graduate

Dr Kaye Scott’s PhD thesis Relationship Between Reading Comprehension and Metacognitive Skills in Deaf Children investigated reading metaknowledge (skills to monitor and regulate thinking about the reading process) and Theory of Mind (recognising that others have thoughts, beliefs, and perspectives that may be different from one’s own), to examine the relationship between these skills and reading comprehension skills in deaf and hard of hearing children. The study explored whether an intervention designed to develop Theory of Mind and reading metaknowledge skills impacted these skills and participants’ reading comprehension skills.

Dr Scott is a passionate educator who has worked with children and young people from kindergarten to year 12 to develop both their language and literacy skills. She was a founding member of the Victorian Deaf Education Institute, a division of the Victorian Department of Education and Training.

Here she discusses her PhD and what she hopes will come from the knowledge gained from her research.

Why did you choose this topic for your PhD?

This topic came from my frustration with the under achievements of deaf and hard of hearing students in reading comprehension. As both a practitioner and an administrator I had been involved with many deaf and hard of hearing students who failed to develop reading comprehension skills commensurate with their peers. In the first three years of schooling, these students developed average or low average reading comprehension levels; however, around the fourth year of schooling (Year 3) some students’ reading comprehension skills began to stall and plateau. These observations were the impetus to investigate the factors that influence reading comprehension skills in these children.

What are you hoping your research will achieve?

The findings from the study extend our knowledge about the role of metacognitive skills in reading comprehension in deaf and hard of hearing children and deepens our understanding of the development of reading comprehension in this group of learners. Many deaf and hard of hearing children have not developed Theory of Mind skills by the age of six unlike their typically hearing peers who will have developed these skills before they start school.

My results demonstrated that deaf and hard of hearing students with more developed Theory of Mind skills had statistically better reading comprehension. Additionally, results showed that deaf and hard of hearing students who completed an intervention designed to improve Theory of Mind and reading metaknowledge skills, showed a statistically significant improvement in their reading comprehension skills.

If Theory of Mind and reading metaknowledge skills in deaf and hard of hearing students are assessed and monitored regularly throughout primary school, the intervention could be used by practitioners to help improve reading comprehension.

Why did you decide to do your PhD at Deakin?

I was accepted to undertake my PhD at several universities, but ultimately chose Deakin because of the excellent supervisors. Both Professor Louise Paatsch and Professor Dianne Toe have a long history in deaf education and their skills and expertise are recognised worldwide and could not be matched.

How was your experience with you supervisor?

I hit the jackpot when it comes to supervisors. Both Louise and Di, acknowledged my existing skills and supported me as both a person and as a learner, supervising my learning without being intrusive. There was a mutual trust in the relationship, which in my opinion, is one of the most important elements of any team. Louise and Di along with my family were part of a ‘team around the learner’, supporting me during my PhD journey.

What was a highlight of your PhD?

There were a few highlights during my PhD. First, as I completed my degree full-time, I had the opportunity to immerse myself in my study — to ‘go down the rabbit hole’ and see where it took me. Having completed two master’s degrees part-time while working full-time and juggling a busy family life, this period of study let me enjoy the journey and be fully involved in my work. Second, I was able to work part-time at Deakin, which gave me with the opportunity to teach at a tertiary level and develop my skills as a teacher of adults. Lastly, the process enabled me to regain confidence in my skills and to further develop and hone my research and writing skills. This has enabled me to continue to work casually at Deakin beyond my PhD.

Now that you have completed your PhD what are your next steps and challenges?

The next steps are more teaching and more research. The challenges revolve around funding to pursue these goals.

It is vitally important to share the new knowledge from my study. I have been lucky to be able to present some of the information to colleagues in the field of deaf education through seminars. Of course, publishing this new knowledge is also important so writing articles and completing a book chapter have occupied some of my time since finishing my PhD. I’m also considering publishing the intervention I developed for my study – it may also be useful for children with autism spectrum disorder and any student with delayed Theory of Mind skills.

Further research goals include investigating a number of language skills associated with Theory of Ming development that were highlighted in the study, scaling up my PhD study with a larger number of participants, and exploring if the knowledge from my study can be applied to typically hearing children with the same reading difficulties as the deaf and hard of hearing children. As with all researchers, the challenge is matching the desire to follow your research interests with the research needs or perceived needs of both government and the private sector. It comes down to promoting the findings from you’re study and then searching for funding.

News 27 February 2023