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University Disabled Students Experiences of Learning, Teaching and Assessment Mick Healey Hazel Roberts and Mary Fuller University of Gloucestershire,

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Presentation on theme: "University Disabled Students Experiences of Learning, Teaching and Assessment Mick Healey Hazel Roberts and Mary Fuller University of Gloucestershire,"— Presentation transcript:

1 University Disabled Students Experiences of Learning, Teaching and Assessment Mick Healey Hazel Roberts and Mary Fuller University of Gloucestershire, UK We believe that the claim that everyone is impaired, not just disabled people, is a far-reaching and important insight into human experience, with major implications for medical and social intervention in the twenty-first century (Shakespeare and Watson 2002: 25)

2 Introduction Despite the growth of interest in the topic, the voice of the disabled students, with a few exceptions (e.g. Riddell et al. 2002), has hardly been heard, beyond the anecdotal Will draw on longitudinal interviews with 31 disabled students across the four universities about their experiences of learning and assessment Supplement it with findings from two surveys at one of the universities: a) a survey of 178 disabled students; b) a survey of 548 disabled and non- disabled students

3 Statistically in a class of 200 students in UK higher education there will be 11 students who have declared a disability Would you know who they are? It is likely that at least another 11 students in the room have an impairment, but have not declared it Listening to students

4 The Nature of Disability a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities Disability and Discrimination Act (1995) 5.4% of all undergraduates (121,085) in the UK self-assessed themselves as having a disability in 2003/04 The actual proportion may be closer to 10%

5 Self-assessed disabilities by UK higher education students all years, 2003/04% Dyslexia41.3 Unseen disabilities (e.g. epilepsy, diabetes, asthma)20.1 Multiple disabilities9.9 Deaf/Hearing impairment5.1 Mental health difficulties4.4 Wheel-chair user/Mobility difficulties4.1 Blind/partially sighted2.8 Personal care support0.2 Other disabilities12.3 Source: NDT (2005) The Nature of Disability

6 I didnt actually know what my disability was when I came here. It was actually because of the University that I found out I was dyslexic and since then I cant praise them enough for the help I have actually received. (John. Field: Sport. Dyslexia) Barriers to Learning Overcome

7 The hearing [sic] is just terrible and the lecturers know this, the ones that we had, but if it was a visiting lecturer they wouldnt know. They tend to show slides because the projector is in the middle of the room so theyre standing behind it and theyre not speaking to you, theyre speaking to the screen. (Bridget. Field: Art. Deaf/hearing impaired) Barriers to Learning Identified

8 At the beginning of some of my modules, I think one of the lecturers did say if there are any problems, please tell me about them. I still didnt take that opportunity! I think that would be helpful. If they put us at ease as well, and made them approachable about our disability. (Rosie. Field: Environment. Unseen disability) Access to Information

9 Dalia did not go on a years placement because she believed that she would loose entitlement to her incapacity benefit in the final year. No. Because, if I do, I loose all my disability benefits, and … I wont be able to get them back again… Youve got to be under 21 when you start claiming or, not in work, or, you have to have like, a sick period and then you can start claiming again … but youre only allowed to work up to 12 hours a week, or, full time for 6 months, in a year. Lack of flexibility in DSA support

10 Dalia also experienced delays with accessing the Disabled Students Allowance. When I need software for the course, I cant just go out and buy it, I have to say to [disability advisor], I need the software for this module, then she sends a letter to the LEA, then … the LEA research wheres cheapest to buy it, then they send me a letter that I have to sign and send back to them to say that the money can come out of the funds, and then eventually I get my software. And in the meantime the course has finished! Lack of flexibility in DSA support

11 Reasonable adjustments - need Legislation in the UK puts a duty on universities and colleges to make reasonable adjustments in advance for the needs of disabled students and to produce disability equality statements. All staff, academic and support, have a responsibility for providing a learning environment in which disabled students are not disadvantaged.

12 Reasonable adjustments - experiences Wide variation in the experience of the students in the reasonable adjustments made to learning, teaching and assessment (LTA) suggests there are differences in how the legislation is interpreted. Such findings help to explain why this is an area which features strongly in the cases brought against higher education institutions under the legislation in Australia and emerging case law in the UK (Adams and Brown 2002; Adams 2007a).

13 It is invidious to treat disabled students as a separate category; rather they fall along a continuum of learner differences and share with other higher education students similar challenges and difficulties; sometimes the barriers are more severe for them, but sometimes they are not Reasonable adjustments - argument

14 Assimilate - special arrangements made for particular disabled students to help them cope e.g. provision of hearing loops; handouts in Braille; extra time in exams; stickers for students with dyslexia Alternative arrangements - provided for particular students e.g. a virtual fieldcourse for a student with a mobility impairment; a viva is provided to test the same learning outcomes as a written assessment Inclusive - all students are provided with adjustments e.g. handouts before lectures; alternative assessments designed to test the same learning outcomes Reasonable adjustments - approaches

15 Reasonable adjustments - assimilate Daisy (Heritage & Tourism, visual & dyslexia) went on a fieldtrip without a note taker The lecturer said to certain people to take notes for that day for me but I never actually got round to pushing them to give them to me so I kind of ended up with my own hand written notes and a few gaps Jean (education, dyslexia) - extra time in exams I have this label … you are treated a bit different, which is good because you think … I do need extra time in exams … but I am aware … of people saying to me Oh I didnt see you in the exam hall

16 Andrew (education, cerebral palsy) was provided with an alternative fieldwork exercise Obviously there was a lot of stuff I couldnt do because of my legs and whatever. The river study was one particular thing. They accommodated me really well. They just said you dont need to do that but Sheila, one of the assistants, she took me in the van and we went to a visitor centre and I evaluated the usefulness of the visitor centre. I was doing something, although it was different to the rest of them, I wasnt just sitting in a cabin with my feet up. Reasonable adjustments - alternative

17 Reasonable adjustments - inclusive Brandon (engineering, dyslexia), along with all the other students on his course, gets lots of handouts in advance which means he does not need his note taker I can listen to the lecture and remember. We get lots of handouts and notes, which is good for me because rather than look at my notes I can look at theirs. In maths they gave us a CD at the beginning of the year and that has all the notes for the whole year, exam questions and answers.

18 Jean (education dyslexia) had different experiences with different lecturers If she put an overhead up in a lecture theatre or a workshop … she would … do it paragraph by paragraph … and she would read it out as well … so I would get it audibly and visually She moves into the group as overheads are swishing on and off, she is talking about something else which is so important that I am supposed to be taking it down and I am a bit like … what do you want me to do? Variation in LTA experiences

19 Two students with the same disability may have widely different experiences Im good at oral presentations but sometimes misspell on OHPs (Dyslexia) I hate oral presentations because it is very difficult for me to converse my ideas out aloud and this is not to do with confidence but speech problems (Dyslexia) Variation in LTA experiences

20 This suggests that devising general policies may not meet the specific needs of individuals However, making numerous individually- tailored adjustments is not sustainable; though may be essential in a minority of cases What is required is an inclusive approach which removes the distinction between teaching and assessing disabled and non-disabled students LTA experiences

21 Agree/Strongly agree % Dis Non-Dis I have had physical difficulties with writing 29 5 I have had difficulty with literacy skills I have had difficulty in taking notes I have had difficulties with the amount of time I require to complete assignments Its easy to know the standard of work expected I have had difficulties with participation in group work I have had difficulties with oral presentations LTA experiences of disabled and non- disabled students

22 Using a catch-all category disabled students is problematic The findings show that for most part disabled students have similar experiences to non- disabled students of learning and assessment. However, disability-related barriers have had a significant impact on their experiences of learning and assessment in a minority of situations. LTA experiences

23 The main beneficiaries of disability legislation may be the non-disabled students because many of the adjustments, such as well-prepared handouts, instructions given in writing as well as verbally, notes put on-line, and variety and flexibility in forms of assessment, are simply good teaching and learning practices which benefit all students LTA experiences

24 One unintended consequence of this (disability) legislation is that as departments and institutions introduce more flexible learning and alternative ways of assessment for disabled students, demand is likely to rise for giving greater flexibility for all students. Disability legislation may prove to be a Trojan horse and in a decade, the learning experiences of all students may be the subject of greater negotiation (Healey 2003: 26). LTA experiences

25 Far fewer adjustments for disabled students would be required if learning, teaching and assessment was designed to be inclusive from the beginning. The universal design for learning movement is critical here. For me, the beauty of [universal design approaches], is that an individuals impairment is not seen as a barrier but rather, the focus of how best that individual learns (Adams 2007: 10) LTA experiences

26 Designing inclusive teaching and learning Please work in pairs: One should read Ten ways to design modules for accessibility The other should read Universal design of instruction Tell each other at least ONE interesting idea

27 Principles of Universal Design for Instruction 1.Inclusiveness 2.Physical access 3.Delivery methods 4.Information access 5.Interaction 6.Feedback 7.Demonstration of knowledge

28 University disabled students experiences of learning, teaching and assessment THE END Thank You

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