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Dyslexic students choose subjects to suit their strengths (3 minutes : 13 seconds)

Ryan Beardsley (School of Physics & Astronomy), Joe Cornfield (School of Mathematical Sciences), Annie Evans (School of Humanities), Michael Shaw (School of Biosciences).

Kate:
As part of your third year studies you were asked to do a piece of project work. Can you just say a little bit about how you approached that project work and the decisions you made and the things that you found supportive in that?

Joe Cornfield, student, Mathematical Sciences:
We have a project booklet which has lots and lots of options, and when I was choosing I just looked through it and I came across one with pictures in so I decided to do that one. It was the only one with pictures in the book and I thought “yeah, that’s the one for me.” And my supervisor was really good with the pictures as well. He’d be able to draw diagrams rather than just describing them to me, to draw them, and that was really useful.

Kate:
How about when lecturers and teachers show things visually in your class, say PowerPoint presentations?

Annie Evans, student, Archaeology:
I don’t have a problem with looking at the board, and I tend to choose lots of art modules so it’s quite a lot of pictures, so if it’s visual, that’s fine. It’s just words page after page after page, that’s where I have problems.

Kate:
And in terms of strategies that you’ve developed in terms of your own study skills or approach to study, what kinds of things have you found beneficial?

Joe:
I don’t know, I just chose the area that I like, with maths, and I think that’s got a lot to do with that. I think if I wasn’t dyslexic I might be into other areas, but I’m really into maths partly because there’s no writing needed. But I’m not sure of anything specifically I’d do.

Michael Shaw, student, Biosciences:
With my project I had the same problem because I chose a literature-based project, and I think with someone with dyslexia with having problems with reading that’s really hard for me, because it really took me a long time to try and critique the journals. So I think if I could have done it again, I would have done a practical-based, because I think with dyslexia you really do struggle because you’ve got a lot of journals and everything on which to base your research, so I think it’s quite hard. I think it would be nice for them to let you know what’s involved in the literature-based project, and being dyslexic, I think you need that extra help, because I did struggle with my project.

Ryan Beardsley, PhD student, Physics:
I think with me as well, some people go away and they read a lot of papers before they do something, before they start an experiment, before they start doing some piece of work, and learn a lot from them that way, but I think for me, it’s better to get stuck into the experiment and then complement that with the reading at the same time, and I’m quite fortunate, really, because my supervisor takes that approach anyway, irrespective of dyslexia or not.

Produced: June 2007, in collaboration with the University's Promoting Enhanced Student Learning (PESL) initiative.

This video available in:
Module design: What is dyslexia (inclusive teaching)
Module design: How dyslexic students learn (student perspective)
Teaching: Projects and dissertations (student perspective)

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