The aim of this exploratory study was to understand and present the experiences of 10 visually impaired (VI) exhibition guides employed in a specific inclusive environment: Dialogue in the Dark Singapore (DiD Singapore). The research investigated the VI guides’ experiences in terms of their learning by observation and from modelling, and its influence on the development of their work self-efficacy. The topic emerged in response to challenges faced by the VI community in relation to observational learning. Albert Bandura’s social cognitive theory, where observational learning and modelled behaviour rely on sight, led to the query about the compatibility between learning by VI individuals and the demand for observational learning, which impacts the development of self-efficacy, especially in terms of work and employment. Adopting a phenomenological strategy of inquiry located within the qualitative paradigm, the experiences, thoughts and journeys of the 10 VI participants were examined through semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions and non-participant observations. Data were analysed and then interpreted inductively and hermeneutically. The study found that, due to their visual constraints, the VI participants had to utilise various complementary methods of learning to compensate for observation and modelling. Interestingly, these methods accorded with Bandura’s processes of observational learning and modelling. The research also revealed that the VI participants relied on two or more of the complementary methods to learn by observation and from modelling. The study further found that these methods were able to lead to the development of the VI participants’ work self-efficacy, which satisfied Bandura’s mechanism for developing self-efficacy, and that other sources such as the work environment and its employees also play important roles in contributing to the VI participants’ development of work self-efficacy. The final finding related to how visual acuity among the VI participants brought about distinctions in social learning. The findings contribute to the theoretical expansion of Bandura’s social learning from the perspective of a specific disability (i.e. visual impairment) in a unique work environment, which has not been explored before. Through the voices of the VI participants, the research challenged the assumption that observational learning and modelling can be facilitated only with the use of sight. By being able to learn by observation, the VI participants demonstrated that the methods of social learning they used enabled them to develop work self-efficacy. Thus the research demonstrates that disability is not a factor for consideration in the development of work self-efficacy. This research study also has practical implications, in that training and professional development can be customised to complement VI participants’ social learning style, so that their work self-efficacy can be effectively enhanced. These implications can be applied to DiD Singapore and mainstream organisations who employ, or wish to employ, individuals with a visual impairment. Finally, the findings could assist in the redesigning of teaching and learning for VI students in special schools and training facilities, to provide them with exposure to these methods of learning, and opportunities to adopt them, so that they can confidently apply them in their employment.
|Date of Award
|Deborah Blackman (Supervisor) & Sam Johnson (Supervisor)