"This is not a Deficit, it’s a Difference" - conversations with students about their diagnostic reports Barbara Kelly & Bob Burwell University of Hull ADSHE Conference Presentation 2014
Rationale for Reframing Feedback Feedback on EP Report is an important first stage in teaching & support process. Guidance on feedback seemed limited, overlooked and unexplored. Students going through the process of undertaking a diagnostic assessment can find it a challenging, bewildering and stressful experience.
Rationale cont. Assessment process is Technicist; something ‘done to them’, by an expert. Assessment reports by nature highlight student’s literacy and cognitive deficits. Tutor challenges: how can we make feedback an informative, positive and empowering experience?
Aims To provide practical guidance - understanding the test’s rationale - summary/synthesis of test scores – 3 broad themes. Reframe interpretation of the report’s findings. Perceive SpLD profile as less of a deficit but more in terms of a Specific Learning Difference. Explain how support recommendations/DSA package relates to the SpLD profile, supporting students to become confident and independent learners. Create an SpLD ‘Assessment Feedback Map’ – a user- friendly summary of the student’s SpLD profile.
A question of Identity The dyslexia assessment process is usually about identifying a deficit – ‘this is what I can’t do’, ‘this is what is wrong with me’. Many students understanding of who they are is based on bitter experience of failure.
Underlying issues to consider when feeding back report outcome
Underlying issues might include: Stress & Anxiety (feeling overwhelmed by the complexity of recent assessment and with HE/life) Low self-esteem & feeling incompetent. Limited understanding of learning abilities and difficulties/differences. Learned helplessness. Reliance on inappropriate coping strategies. PANIC
Who am I? ‘born with’ vs ‘acquired’ disability When you are born with a disability, that is part of your identity Most people born with a disability wouldn’t want to change it Acquired disability requires adjustment to new situation Dyslexia falls between ‘born with’ & ‘acquired’
A reminder of the bigger picture To understand dyslexia is to accept that there is a pattern of difficulties that has an effect: neurologically socially physically intellectually
Central, rather than peripheral issues How have you found academic/learning experiences so far? Unpacking and loosening of previous conceptions about their capability – ‘I’m stupid’. How support in school made them feel – inappropriate support/lack of support. Beginning to identify patterns in learning behaviours which might be explained by the report.
How to engage with student Relaxed & exploratory process Close listening Unpacking the learning journey Engage student in dialogue about their styles of thinking, learning & writing – relate to report Personalised construction of meaning Explore the nature of dyslexia and reframe the past and present learning differences
Listening Skills Active Listening Attending Maintaining eye contact & open posture This person is interested in me Actively listening + actively paraphrasing what they are saying This person hears & understands what I am talking about Empathetic listening + notices & reflects back non-verbal cues (tone of voice) & acknowledges their emotion. They understand my reality
‘Close Listening’ Listening with intuition Maintain eye contact. Open posture. Active paraphrasing. Reflect back non-verbal cues (tone of voice, posture) & use of emotion. Acknowledge their emotion. Intuition + Insight = ability to acknowledge /express the impact of what student is saying. This person helps me understand my position more fully than I can by myself.
Promoting positive messages about different styles of learning
A different way of thinking Holistic Non-verbal thinking High speed ‘Random’ Instantaneous Interconnected Going off at a tangent Complex
Developing students‘ understanding of the test rationale
Teach students rationale for tests: 3 broad themes. Attainment in Literacy Underlying Ability Cognitive Processing Summary helps students have a working understanding of their scores and its relationship to their SpLD profile.
To sum up...... Decoding/reframing the report can lead to ownership & understanding – empowerment rather than alienation + opportunity to allay their fears Potential to engage the student & provide a platform for development of confidence & self-esteem Bridge between psychological assessment & practical learning guidance/specialist tuition
When you get it right........ “ For the first time in my life it felt as if someone had actually articulated what I had felt my whole life and explained the reasons why I would get frustrated.” (DB 2010)