An exploration of the learning strategies used by women who disclose with a formal diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the context of higher education
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 15:19 authored by Christine Young
Institutions of higher education (HE) need to take into account the increasing number of enrolling students diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and research to further investigate the academic needs of these students is required (Weyandt & DuPaul, 2008). Although underachievement is a prominent feature associated with ADHD (DuPaul et al., 2009), the literature on academic support for these students in HE is limited. Specifically, understanding the particular needs of women learners with ADHD is a priority so that issues impeding their academic success might be prevented (Hinckley & Alden, 2005; Quinn, 2005; Waite, 2010). The aim of this study was to develop understandings of the strategies used by women with ADHD to support their learning within the contexts of HE. In this study the lived experiences of four female university students who identified with a formal diagnosis of ADHD were explored using Narrative Methodology. Documentation of a medical diagnosis from a treating psychiatrist or a general practitioner was required for participation. Semi-structured, in-depth, narrative one-on-one interviews and photography were the methods chosen to understand the learning strategies used by these women, what support they needed in order to achieve academic success, and how well they were able to function in the HE environment. The recorded interview data were transcribed and analysed thematically to gain insights into the key strategies for learning used by this group of women. This research reveals that the women participating in the study used a range of strategies to support their learning. These included visual-spatial strategies, time management strategies, strategies to aid concentration and support people to promote engagement with higher education studies. The research highlights the ways these strategies are not isolated or fixed in time but are interrelated and developed through a complex interplay of contextual factors such as diagnosis, medication, greater self-awareness, stability and external support. This is important information that could be used to contribute to better educational outcomes for individuals with ADHD, as ADHD is on the edge of recognition by law as a cognitive difference due to emerging evidence of its genetic underpinning (Arnold et al., 2010). The thesis argues for an approach to supporting students with ADHD in HE that is grounded in a dynamic cluster of learning strategies. Continued research is needed with an expanded group of female students with ADHD to further develop understandings of the array of strategies that may support both learning and teaching.