The experience of learning at university by disabled students in geography, earth and environmental sciences and related disciplines: a report on the Geography Discipline Network (GDN) Inclusive Curriculum Project (ICP) Student Survey

This newly published report analyses the findings from the first ever survey of disabled students in geography, earth and environmental sciences and related disciplines. It focuses on the experiences of teaching, learning and assessment of 80 disabled students from six different universities. By giving this group a voice the report aims to contribute to their empowerment.

The full text of the report is available electronically in Word (324Kb), rich text (536Kb) and pdf (891Kb) formats, and bound copies can be obtained on order from the GDN office - see information on ordering publications. Below is a brief summary of the report findings.

"Perhaps the most surprising finding is that, with the exception of lectures, over half the disabled students, and often as many as three-quarters of them, have not experienced disability-related barriers with different forms of teaching and learning. Even during fieldtrips, where it might be expected that the barriers to learning would be highest, only one in five disabled students reported they had experienced difficulties. However, the proportion doubled to slightly over two in every five disabled students in independent fieldwork (e.g. researching for an assignment or dissertation). Assessment generally caused the respondents greater problems, with between 37% and 63% reporting difficulties with various forms.

These findings suggest that using a general category entitled 'disabled students' is problematic and devising general policies to support their teaching, learning and assessment may not always meet the specific needs of individuals. Arguably, in the long run the main beneficiaries of disability legislation and the need to make suitable adjustments in advance are the non-disabled students, because many of the adjustments, such as well prepared handouts, instructions given in writing as well as verbally, notes put on-line, and variety and flexibility in forms of assessment, are simply good teaching and learning practices which will benefit all students."


Page updated 11 May 2004
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