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An exploration into the use of smell as a support to the education of pupils with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD)

Fitzsimons, Joanne; (2021) An exploration into the use of smell as a support to the education of pupils with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD). Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

In this study, I aimed to consider how and in what ways the sense of smell could support the education of pupils with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD). I had two aims: first, I wanted to explore an approach to supporting teaching and learning for the PMLD cohort. Second, since the sense of smell is an under-researched and under-valued subject, I wanted to make my own contribution to providing evidence of the potential of this sense as an important tool for learning. At the centre of this study were seven pupils with PMLD all but one of whom I had taught before the research commenced. Although their difficulties were such that it was not possible to interview them, I was able to conduct interviews and joint observations with their parents and teaching professionals. I adopted a qualitative, interpretivist methodology, which was well suited to this close and detailed interview- and observation- focussed investigation. The fieldwork for this study was conducted over an eight-week period, in one London special school, in the spring and summer terms of 2014. I used three main methods to generate data: firstly, sourcing of information about the pupils from educational and healthcare documents and conducting initial observations (Spring Term, 2014); secondly, interviewing 15 adult participants including five teachers, seven parents, two senior leaders and the school therapist (Summer Term, 2014); thirdly, carrying out 92 video-recorded observations of pupils’ reactions to smell within sensory based activities over the eight-week fieldwork period and individually interviewing the parents, teachers and school therapist on their perceptions of the video-recordings (Summer Term, 2014). This research provided evidence to suggest that the use of smell was performing useful functions in supporting cognitive development and in the experience of eating and drinking. What also emerged was that the use of this sense offered an additional means through which pupils with PMLD could better understand and gain information about their immediate environment. The evidence and insights presented in this thesis have already been used to inform teaching and learning practices within my own school context and it is hoped that they can be used to better support the teaching and learning of other cohorts of pupils with PMLD.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: An exploration into the use of smell as a support to the education of pupils with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD)
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Education, Practice and Society
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Education, Practice and Society > IOE - Lifelong Learning and Comparative Edu
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10128805
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