Providing Learning Support for Students with Hidden Disabilities and Dyslexia Undertaking Fieldwork and Related Activities

How to Support Students with Dyslexia

If students with dyslexia are to receive the support they need, it is important for staff to focus not only on the actual fieldwork itself but also on relevant activities before and afterwards. The pre-fieldwork phase is especially important in that this is the period of planning and preparation. It is at this time that students should be invited, if they wish, to alert staff to their dyslexia and to the kinds of assistance they would appreciate (though obviously disclosure must not be compulsory). It is at this stage that students and academic staff are most likely to liaise with and seek advice from colleagues specialising in disability support. The post-fieldwork stage is important both because of students completing assignments for assessment and because this is the period when students can reflect back on the trip and evaluate its successes and its problems.

In line with the need, therefore, for a comprehensive and longitudinal approach to student support, the tables which follow deal with all three phases (pre, during and post) and try to identify likely problems and possible solutions. Many of the ideas in the tables stem directly from interviews with students with dyslexia who have recently completed residential fieldwork. The six students who provided detailed interviews for this volume had all hugely enjoyed and benefited from their fieldwork but everyone identified some ways in which more attention to their dyslexia needs could have further enhanced their fieldwork learning experience. From research by Hall et al. (2001) we know that in geography, earth and environmental sciences over 70 per cent of academic staff have been involved in taking students with dyslexia on fieldwork. This is, therefore, not a small issue and it certainly merits our serious consideration. The Hall et al. survey uncovered several examples of existing good practice some of which has informed the guidance, given below in this volume. A key ambition for the future must be to disseminate and embed the good practice as widely as possible.

Page updated 14 December 2001

GDN pages maintained by Phil Gravestock