The most successful students are arguably the ones who start by making wise and well-informed choices amongst potential courses. It is even more important for students with additional needs, such as d/Deafness, to make the best choice from amongst the array they are offered so that difficulties at a later stage are minimised. In order to make these choices students will need:
Institutions and individual academics make many assumptions about student knowledge and experience. However, there is plenty of evidence that students are not at ease with the conventions of higher education and spend some considerable time learning about the culture, language and norms of their environment. This will be particularly true of students who come from backgrounds where going to university is not the norm. What exactly is a lecture supposed to achieve? What should I be doing in a lecture? What are the expectations of me in a seminar group? And, of course, 'What does fieldwork at university entail?'
For d/Deaf students it is much more difficult to pick up the clues and cues as they go along, since little is made explicit and a lot is picked up by overheard remarks, chance comments and so on - precisely the kind of thing that d/Deaf students have difficulty with. It therefore becomes the responsibility of the lecturer to find ways of helping d/Deaf students have access to this information.
A fieldwork handbook will help - with some basic rules and principles of fieldwork, descriptions of the range of fieldwork that they might encounter. It could also provide pictorial records of previous field work and some informal reports of previous students' experience. As well as the explicit discipline-related goals of the fieldwork an explanation could be given of the ancillary learning which the experience will bring: understanding working in groups, appreciating difference and variety of contributions, and concern for others.
Page updated 14 December 2001
GDN pages maintained by Phil Gravestock
© Geography Discipline Network/authors, 2001
ISBN: 1 86174 116 2