and dyslexia at university
Dr. Andrew Dykes B.Ed, M.A, M.Sc, PhD, FHEA
Introduction to the addenda
My original thesis was huge. More than 150,000 words. There was a lot to say. The project was deeply engaging and generated multiple data analysis outcomes. But the thesis had to comply with the university's regulations, notably to be within an 80,000 word limit. Hence, many sections of the original draft were removed but not discarded,
firstly, to reduce content to meet the maximum words submission requirement;
secondly, these sections relate to ideas and data analysis outcomes, interpretations and implications that are somewhat speculative, and hence will require further development in due course. This is work in progress.
Hence, these addenda present some of this additional material, not least as a springboard for assessing the viability for future research, but also so that the themes and strands contained within it are documented to guide the thesis into a wider research project.
Research conclusions - summary to date
The conclusions drawn out of the research broadly supported acceptance of the project's hypotheses, firstly that students with identified dyslexia who are studying at university present significantly lower levels of academic confidence than their non-dyslexic peers.
Additionally, it was shown that the process by which students identified with dyslexia were told of their dyslexia can impact on their levels of academic confidence. Students diagnosed with dyslexia as a disability presented significantly lower levels of academic confidence in comparison to students whose dyslexia had been identified as a learning difference. This implies that taking a more neutrally nuanced approach during the process of assessment may be an important factor that helps to guide an individual towards internalizing their dyslexia more positively into their self-concept. However the research was not able to determine the extent to which students' dyslexia assessment might be the main contributing factor to reduced academic confidence. Although the sample of students with dyslexia was reasonable, (n=68), subsets of this sample established from the matrix of assessment variables (that is for example, diagnosed as a disability, or identified as a difference, to name just two) generated sample sizes too small for reliable statistical analysis to be performed. Hence one item on the agenda for further research is to obtain more data from a wider and more numerous sample of the dyslexic student community.
Finally, and perhaps of the greatest interest, was the outcome that identified some students from the (self-declared) non-dyslexic group as presenting characteristics and attributes widely seen in students from the dyslexic group. Perhaps these were students with unidentified dyslexia. However, as the study's data collection tool was not, and did not purport to be a dyslexia screener, this was not known. But the most pertinent outcome was that this small sub-group of quasi-dyslexic students presented levels of academic confidence that was measurably higher than their dyslexia-identified peers, nearly, but not quite, on a par with students in the non-dyslexic group more widely. Although not a significant result statistically, it was marginal, and was sufficiently interesting to point towards further research, notably by acquiring new data from a larger sample.
Does any of this matter? The implications of this last outcome suggests that from an academic confidence point of view at least, identifying dyslexia in university students may have a detrimental impact on their academic confidence. Since some recent research has further suggested that academic confidence may be linked to absolute performance in an academic task (Klassen, 2006, amongst others), and hence by implication, more broadly to academic achievement, further research to understand more about the relationships between learning differences and academic confidence in communities of learners in Higher Education may be of value.
A1 - Factors of Dyslexianess
Additional material in preparation