TESI project focuses on social integration of peoples with verbal communication disorders that are at risk of social isolation. It is dedicated to conceptualizing and development of social competence (SC) related to personal, social and professional development of people with verbal communication disorders through creation of adaptive, affordable and easy-to-use software solution that will enrich their personal expression opportunities.
By following this aims the project responds to the existing gaps in training of mentally disabled learners within the target countries, the demands of society in general, and the requirements of this group of population and their families. Engaging learners with mental disorders in communication centred activities during educational therapy and at home is one of the cardinal challenges and contributes to the poor outcomes concerning their social integrations by building and improving their social competence (SC).
SC is among the 8 key competencies for lifelong learning, which is independent of the general and the intellectual competence /intelligence/, and which has its own path of development. Despite the different approaches in the conceptualizing of SC and the absence of a single definition, empirical researches find significant effects of SC on social relations and personal development (Katz & McClellan, 1997). SC is related positively with building and maintaining of positive social relations – intimate and professional. SC is positively connected with the development of pro-social behaviors and the restriction of destructive behaviors (Denham & Burton, 2003). SC is also linked positively with academic ability and success in learning (Blair, 2002, Klimoski & Donahue, 2001).
Furthermore SC is related positively to the development of self-concept and personality self-actualization (Raver & Knltzer, 2002). SC restricts involvement in destructive behaviours and emergence of interpersonal conflicts and ruptures resulting in non-acceptance and rejection, destructive conflicts resolution, as well as in emergence of, emotional and behavioural problems induced by inefficient social relations (Domltrovlch, Cortes, and Greenberg, 2007; Frey, Hlrschsteln, and Guzzo, 2000; Webster-Stratton and Taylor, 2001).
In many socially oriented occupations SC is basic competence that provides building of complete and effective working relationships and achievement of objectives. SC is present not only in personal development but also in the professional development in all areas. Studies of M. Davis /1996/ show the effects of some of the abilities included in SC as empathy, understanding, accepting other’s point of view on social activities and relationships. The effectiveness of many professional activities in the social sphere depends on the level of construction of SC.
Empirical studies conducted over the past decade show the importance of SC in building effective interpersonal relationships, professional activities and personality. But despite the
importance of SC as a key competence, its systematic building within the education of learners with verbal communication disorders is still undeveloped. Analyses of training program for a variety of professions, in social activities at undergraduate level show that there are no special modules to ensure the development of this key competence which is fundamental to social and personal self-realization of these vulnerable group of disabled people at risk of social exclusion.
To this end, a number of separate educational resources and assistive tools have been created. However, they lacks the ability to adapt to the specific mental requirements and autonomously engage with learners, which is the key for improving the therapy and, thus, learning opportunities and social integration of learners with verbal disorders. Existing approaches typically use general learning algorithms to estimate the engagement of such disadvantaged learners. These approaches are rather limited for modeling atypical behavioral displays of engagement of learners, which can vary considerably across these disadvantaged groups of learners.