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The Student Experience: SpLDs

In considering the student experience we first need to accept that this will differ from individual to individual and at the same time vary depending on the context where the student may find themselves. For the purposes of this case study we have broken these contexts down to:

  • organisation and timekeeping may be affected. May appear rushed.
  • may avoid certain environments and activities, concern about peer comments (“clumsy”, “stupid” etc)
  • planning and organising research can be problematic. Students with Specific Learning Differences (SpLDs) require help with chunking and scaffolding of tasks, so self-directed research and reading tasks can provide challenges. Reading speed may be slow. Reading and comprehension can also be an issue, with many students needing to read and re-read texts to gain understanding.
  • Planning, structuring, writing and proof-reading can all be impacted by Specific Learning Difficulties. Typing and writing speed may be slow. Writing style may be succinct and factual with higher level descriptive writing skills and inference less apparent.    
Students sitting at a table, ready to learn. Just a view of their hands ready to take notes.
  • students with Specific Learning Difficulties face challenges with exams and other timed assessments due to needing extra time for processing, expression and checking. This applies equally to in-class tasks such as group work.  
  • every student will be different but in selecting placements it will be important for the student and the placement provider to discuss how they might be accommodated within a workplace setting. Students are likely to have concerns about levels of support and guidance and how they may be perceived. 
  • Concentration and following instructions, particularly when time pressure exists. Keeping up with tasks. Responding quickly to questions. Taking accurate notes.
    • Following instructions when time pressured. Reticence about expressing ideas. Keeping up with discussion.
    • Organising and presenting thoughts in a coherent manner may prove challenging for some students.  
    • Concentrating and following instructions may be problematic in some circumstances, particularly where there is time pressure.

Though some aspects of online learning may on the face of it appear beneficial to students with specific learning differences (such as pre-recorded lectures that can be stopped when reviewing them), this format also presents challenges to these same students. This might include: understanding text, keeping up with content and instructions, note-taking, concentrating and following instructions, clarifying understanding, responding quickly to questions and taking part in group or Q&A sessions.

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