An exploration of dyslexic university students' experiences of dyslexia and education
Coward, Kate Alice
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Background: Disabled students are under-represented within further education (Madriaga, 2007) and dyslexia is thought to be the most common learning disability in the UK (Shaywitz & Shaywitz, 2005). It has been shown that dyslexic students suffer increased negative feelings towards education compared to students without the condition, (Arnold et al., 2005; Carroll & Iles, 2006; Hellendoorn & Ruijssenaars, 2000; Ingesson, 2007a). The majority of research into dyslexic students at university uses quantitative research methods leaving a gap within qualitative research. Aim: The aim of the study was to conduct qualitative research exploring dyslexic university students‟ experiences of dyslexia and education. Method: A qualitative approach was adopted by using semi-structured interviews for five participants asking about their experiences of all education whilst having dyslexia. After transcription, Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to analyse the data and create superordinate themes. Results: Four main superordinate themes were developed from the transcripts after detailed analysis. These were; diagnosis as a negative experience, dyslexia: the experience of a social construct, learning to live with dyslexia, and the paradoxical experience of support. Conclusions: The experience of diagnosis was perceived as negative by participants throughout many aspects which caused feelings of low self-esteem. Dyslexia was seen as a social construct which caused participants to think about what dyslexia means within society. Growing up as dyslexic had a wide array of positive and negative impacts on participants but acceptance of the condition helped them stay positive. The support received by participants was imperative to their success within education, it impacted them physically and emotionally, however, participants pointed out flaws within the support given by institutions which could be improved. A serious concern of participants was their status of future employability whilst having dyslexia; this could be a new area of research to be undertaken.
BSc (Hons) Psychology
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