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The reality of the FE-to-HE transition for disabled students: a case study By Dr Ann Walker & Dr Lisa Reidy Project funded by CETL Student Autonomy.

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Presentation on theme: "The reality of the FE-to-HE transition for disabled students: a case study By Dr Ann Walker & Dr Lisa Reidy Project funded by CETL Student Autonomy."— Presentation transcript:

1 The reality of the FE-to-HE transition for disabled students: a case study By Dr Ann Walker & Dr Lisa Reidy Project funded by CETL Student Autonomy

2 Background & Project Rationale Disability Equality Scheme, Dec 2006 4.7% of SHU students in receipt of DSA (national average 4.1%, 2005/06 data) Project rationale: to study the challenges faced by disabled students in attending University, specifically their transition experiences

3 Previous Research Exacerbation of mental health difficulties (Tinklin et al., 2005) Academic and social anxiety among dyslexic students (Caroll & Illse, 2006) Issues relating to disclosure of disability (Goode, 2007; Madriaga, 2007) Delays in receiving support (Goode, 2007) impact on autonomy and transition experiences?

4 Method: Participants & Design 91 students with learning contracts, from D&S SEMI-STRUCTURED INTERVIEWS 9 students 19-40+ yrs, Range of disabilities QUESTIONNAIRE 32 students 18-40+ yrs, Range of disabilities

5 Research team 2 lead researchers – academic staff 2 undergraduate students with Learning Contracts 1graduate student Knowledge gained from conducting interviews used to develop questionnaires.

6 Interview schedule Adopted broad timeframe for transition: from application to university until the end of 1st year of study. Specific questions relating to experiences of: applying to the university declaring disability and obtaining learning contract induction week experiences during the first year how prepared students felt for their next transition, into Level 5

7 Questionnaire schedule Followed a similar timeline to the interviews. Open-ended questions as well rating scales. Sample Question: How did you feel about declaring your disability to obtain your Learning Contract? 1 = not at all distressed 2 = mildly distressed 3 = moderately distressed 4 = extremely distressed Did you experience any other emotions after declaring your disability? Please specify below. ________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________

8 Results: Interviews Interviews transcribed and following themes extracted: Applying to university Access to support before starting course Disabled students Induction/Open Days Induction week events Experience of obtaining a learning contract Attitude towards disclosing disability Feelings about disability and need for learning contract Academic staffs awareness of learning contract Attitude towards support and resources

9 Results: Induction week (Interview) P2: Well there was a Freshers week at the end of September which was very useful as I got to know more about SHUs surroundings…we were allowed to look around the buildings and see where our classes would take place… they were selling refreshments in the lecture theatre and everyone was allowed to move around and chat to people and get to know each other better. I made quite a few friends there actually, it was really nice

10 P7: I dont know if you know about depression but you go right into yourself and you cut yourself off from everybody. Id sort of been trying to go out more and socialise more and those kinda things, from being basically a hermit to going out and then suddenly induction week, errr. I: Too much in your face? P7: It was just a bit freaky. And I felt very alone and very unqualified to do this even though I had all… I: You had all the pieces of paper? P7: But I didnt have the mental backup, you know as in you can do this with you eyes shut kind of thing. Like dont worry about it, get in there and on with it, but at the time I didnt ….

11 Induction (Questionnaire) 44% of students having declared their disability on UCAS form had attended an induction event specifically for disabled students All but one of these students reported the event to be moderately or extremely useful

12 Experience of obtaining a LC (Interview) I: So as far as you can remember you had a meeting prior to starting here? P9: I had quite an intricate support network around me. I: So that would have been in the summer and would that be last summer, 06? P9: Yeah I: So what do you remember, you had a meeting and that was specifically to discuss what support was needed? P9: I had a few, meeting with tutors as well to try and sort out my timetable, scribes and those sorts of things. I: So when you arrived was all your support in place? P9: Yeah.

13 I: And was support for you put in place, did you get a Learning Contract before you started or after you started? P8: It was after Id started. I: Yes, do you know how long after? P8: It was, let me think… Ive got my Learning Contract, it should have a date on it. [Takes Learning Contract out of his bag]. Its the 11/1/07. So thats the time by which it was finalized. Because I needed to have my assessment of need. Id had my psychological test but I havent had my assessment of need. I: And was that done after youd actually started? P8: Yes, and there was quite a waiting list as well so… And that was it really. I just had to wait so thats why it took to January. And then with regards to my equipment for dyslexia that was I think, March, beginning of March before all that was sorted out.

14 Completion of LC in relation to the student starting their course (Questionnaire) Ticked disability on UCAS form In place before start of course Within 1 month Between 1 & 3 months Between 3 & 6 months 6 months plus Yes57714 No02032* (includes internal transfer student) Overall5 (16.1%)9 (29%)7 (22.6%)4 (12.9%)6 (19.4%)

15 Disclosing disability (Interview) I: So how do you feel about declaring your disability? Do you find it easy to say that youre dyslexic? P8: Oh yes, definitely. I dont find that I have a problem with that at all whatsoever, because I find that most people are very understanding about. Occasionally you come into contact with people who are not but thats really far between. But in the university setting in general most people are really understanding

16 P1: Through doing college and the access course I never disclosed that I had a disability, simply because I had this idea, I didnt want people to feel there was something not right about me and to be tret a different way. I know if sounds like Im a bit prejudiced towards disabled people, in that sense, do you know what I mean? And later on in the same interview P1: …even initially I thought it might prejudice me getting a place at university. I actually phoned someone to check on it, saying Should I bother applying if Ive got such and such? She said they couldnt refuse me a place because of it.

17 Level of Distress at Disclosure (Questionnaire) Not at all Distressed Mildly Distressed Moderately Distressed Extremely Distressed 21 (67.7%)7 (22.6%)2 (6.5%)1 (3.2%)

18 Resources (Interview) P8: Things have improved dramatically since I received my equipment. Its amazing the difference really. You know its unbelievable. Its the equipment that really helped a lot. P2: X also recommended some software to be installed on my PC called Inspiration and she said some students use Inspiration to organize their work over the week. It can sort out which work needs to be handed in earlier than others and it really helps.

19 P9:… so I book the taxi to take me to university and one to take me back and so if someone from university asked me to go somewhere or do something theres no way I could go back on what Im doing in that sort of time with the taxi. Theres also the care worker whos booked for a specific time, so I kind of dont get much flexibility. I: So in a way the academic thing, being at the lecture 9 o clock till 11, thats fine because thats booked but if you want to stay to talk to people that becomes problematic because youve got to book the taxi before you arrive. So having a social life becomes harder? P: Yeah. And later in the interview P9: But students arent that regulated they wont say, right we are doing this now, so I can book, itll be that they decide on the spot.

20 And in relation to socializing in the evenings P9: The Christian movement, they meet on a Thursday night at the tea cups, the Students Union, but if my parents can't give me a lift I can't get there or if I don't have a carer booked. I: So if you want to come in for Christian Union on a Thursday night you have to arrange transport? P9: Which I have to pay for, because it's not a timetabled thing. There's loads of social opportunities, which are very difficult to get to and even then I'd have to pay 30 quid for a taxi or get my parents to give me a lift. I: And also its not just paying for your taxi, you've also got to have the support there and you've got to pay out of your own pocket? P9: Because at the moment I'm under the care of the agency, so they are not just sorting me out, they have various other clients so theyre going to come and chuck me in bed at a night time, they like the same time, and so if my parents aren't around that's my last chance to get in bed. I know I've got to be back at a certain time

21 Adequacy of support: comparison between FE & HE (rating scale 1= highly adequate, 4= not at all adequate) MeanSD L3 teaching staff 1.74.86 HE Disability support 1.71.78 HE Academic staff 2.00.77

22 Project Conclusions and Recommendations student autonomy training for staff in promoting student autonomy Open Days and induction events UCAS application form

23 Discussion: Issues with Sample Small sample size Diversity of group: are experiences attributable to disability or other factors? Difficulties in generalising findings

24 Issues with interviews Shift from focus groups to interviews Students difficulties in recalling their experiences Student focus on LC/disability rather than general experience of HE

25 Issues with Questionnaires Able to test for patterns and trends Difficulty in categorising responses Relationships between students and individual members of staff – how to interpret Omission of specific reference to autonomy – problematic?

26 Student Workers Timing of project in relation to summer break and refer/defer assessments Paid work and claiming disability allowance Issues of confidentiality Anxiety of working on a real project

27 Final Conclusions scope for use of different methodologies focus on specific disabilities e.g. mental health consider whole diversity agenda inclusion of control groups need for national research

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