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An exploration of factors which influence university students’ decisions whether or not to be tested for dyslexia

An exploration of factors which influence university students’ decisions whether or not to be tested for dyslexia
An exploration of factors which influence university students’ decisions whether or not to be tested for dyslexia
The decision to request an assessment for dyslexia whilst at university is often one of the most complex decisions a student has to make. It involves careful examination of the implications; balancing any perceived benefits, against actual or potential disadvantages. Despite this, very little is known about factors which influence students making this decision.

A two-phase exploratory qualitative approach was selected to identify how many university students consider being tested for dyslexia, how they proceed and reasons behind this. Phase 1 consisted of an online survey available to all students registered at one UK University. Data was obtained from 674 students at all stages of their educational journey, across 8 different faculties, including 533 on Undergraduate; 54 on Post-graduate taught and 85 on Post-graduate research programmes. Of these 310 students had considered being assessed and explained why they had chosen not to go ahead. In depth interviews with 6 of these students, and a further 5 who had been assessed then provided a greater understanding of the factors involved.

Results revealed a myriad of reasons, with some considered pivotal. Students had to have reached a tipping point before they were sufficiently motivated to seek an assessment. Reaching this point was largely determined by their academic self- concept and how well they perceived that they were doing. When students did acknowledge that they were struggling, often after prompts by others; whether or not they recognised dyslexia as a possible explanation was influenced by their understanding of the condition. This in turn was heavily influenced by how they saw it manifest in others. All of the students who had been assessed did so following a prompt by a member of academic staff.

There are clear implications for educational practice arising from this research, which need to be supported by policy change. These focus on the need to enhance understanding of dyslexia in both students and academic staff. Strategies to raise student awareness, alongside more in-depth staff development initiatives are proposed. There is also a need for future research to explore in detail factors influencing specific professional groups and postgraduate students.
University of Southampton
Cowen, Michelle Denise
79351325-9a06-4c97-941a-af6a4e846db4
Cowen, Michelle Denise
79351325-9a06-4c97-941a-af6a4e846db4
Cluett, Elizabeth
cfa2fd26-8cc0-485c-876b-73fe92e9b4e1
Gobbi, Mary
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Cowen, Michelle Denise (2018) An exploration of factors which influence university students’ decisions whether or not to be tested for dyslexia. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 289pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

The decision to request an assessment for dyslexia whilst at university is often one of the most complex decisions a student has to make. It involves careful examination of the implications; balancing any perceived benefits, against actual or potential disadvantages. Despite this, very little is known about factors which influence students making this decision.

A two-phase exploratory qualitative approach was selected to identify how many university students consider being tested for dyslexia, how they proceed and reasons behind this. Phase 1 consisted of an online survey available to all students registered at one UK University. Data was obtained from 674 students at all stages of their educational journey, across 8 different faculties, including 533 on Undergraduate; 54 on Post-graduate taught and 85 on Post-graduate research programmes. Of these 310 students had considered being assessed and explained why they had chosen not to go ahead. In depth interviews with 6 of these students, and a further 5 who had been assessed then provided a greater understanding of the factors involved.

Results revealed a myriad of reasons, with some considered pivotal. Students had to have reached a tipping point before they were sufficiently motivated to seek an assessment. Reaching this point was largely determined by their academic self- concept and how well they perceived that they were doing. When students did acknowledge that they were struggling, often after prompts by others; whether or not they recognised dyslexia as a possible explanation was influenced by their understanding of the condition. This in turn was heavily influenced by how they saw it manifest in others. All of the students who had been assessed did so following a prompt by a member of academic staff.

There are clear implications for educational practice arising from this research, which need to be supported by policy change. These focus on the need to enhance understanding of dyslexia in both students and academic staff. Strategies to raise student awareness, alongside more in-depth staff development initiatives are proposed. There is also a need for future research to explore in detail factors influencing specific professional groups and postgraduate students.

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Published date: 1 May 2018

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 427158
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/427158
PURE UUID: 997df1f4-00c5-4c01-9f0f-e78f89d43cdc
ORCID for Elizabeth Cluett: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-8707-5042

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 03 Jan 2019 17:30
Last modified: 14 Mar 2019 01:51

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Contributors

Author: Michelle Denise Cowen
Thesis advisor: Elizabeth Cluett ORCID iD
Thesis advisor: Mary Gobbi

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