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Teaching strategies for third level science students with dyslexia and/or dyspraxia.

Author Maeve Scott and Darvree Downey
Abstract Teaching strategies at third level institutions are traditionally based on visual and verbal means. These methods can disadvantage students who have difficulty with reading and writing (Department of Education and Science, 2001). A survey of first year science students in the Institute of Technology in Tallaght (ITT) Dublin by the National Learning Network in November 2007 estimated that 10% of students have a specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia or dyspraxia. This is in line with national and international surveys conducted by associations such as the Association for Higher Education and Access (AHEAD, 2004) in Ireland and the Irish Association for Dyslexia. In this paper, modes of lecture delivery of three scientific modules taught at level 7 and level 8 were critically evaluated and modified to ensure students with dyslexia and/or dyspraxia are accommodated. Feedback and conclusions were summarized and recommendations made. The initial part of the study involved a review of published literature to identify the teaching strategies which accommodate the learning styles of students with dyslexia and/or dyspraxia and compared to the lecture delivery strategies used. The delivery of parts of the modules taught were then modified to include teaching strategies aimed at improving learning by students with dyslexia and/or dyspraxia. Feedback from students was obtained at the end of the modules in the form of questionnaires and interviews. Qualitative analysis from student feedback was also supported by reflective entries, peer discussions and exam results. Definitive and quantitative judgements are difficult to make due to the small population size in this study. The study concluded that the use of visual images, concept mapping, virtual learning environment and global (in addition to sequential) teaching styles are preferred by dyslexic and/or dyspraxic students. A multi representational approach in lecture delivery will accommodate learning for students with a diverse range of learning styles including those with dyslexia and/or dyslexia.
Keywords Teaching Strategies; Dyslexia; Dyspraxia; Third level; Science
Published In ICEP Proceedings
Year 2010
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