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2 "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

3 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.

4 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?

5 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.

6 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.

7 Underlying issues to consider when feeding back report outcome

8 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

9 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’

10 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

11 Conversations Matter

12 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.

13 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

14 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

15 ‘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.

16 Promoting positive messages about different styles of learning

17 A different way of thinking Holistic Non-verbal thinking High speed ‘Random’ Instantaneous Interconnected Going off at a tangent Complex

18 Developing students‘ understanding of the test rationale

19 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.

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21 Task: Assessment Feedback Map

22 Feedback

23 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

24 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)


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