Strengths, challenges, and learning strategies of students with dyslexia at Australian universities: An online mixed-methods survey
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 22:41 authored by Lois MacCullagh
Dyslexia generally affects reading and spelling, but not intelligence (International Dyslexia Association, 2018). Students with dyslexia can succeed at university, but related challenges can affect wellbeing and attainment (Alexander-Passe, 2015; Mortimore & Crozier, 2006; Richardson, 2015). Research literature has described many potential strengths and learning strategies of students with dyslexia, which could help overcome challenges (MacCullagh et al., 2017; Pino & Mortari, 2014). However, few quantitative comparisons have been conducted between dyslexic and non-dyslexic groups, nor between different learning strategies. Thus, it is not known if university students with and without dyslexia differ significantly on academic strengths, challenges, or learning strategies. Nor is it known if students with dyslexia consider any specific strategies more helpful than other strategies. To begin resolving these uncertainties, an online mixed methods survey was conducted, recruiting 70 students with dyslexia formally assessed (D-A) and 58 non-dyslexic peers (ND) from Australian universities. Reported academic strengths were not found to differ significantly between groups. However, average difficulty ratings by the D-A group were significantly higher than for ND peers across all learning and assessment activities surveyed, except essay exams. The D-A and ND groups also differed significantly in usage proportions for some learning strategies, but not on average helpfulness ratings for any strategy. Ranking overall perceived helpfulness of learning strategies for D-A participants by combining usage proportions and average helpfulness ratings for this group indicated 'Reducing Contrast' as the highest ranked strategy, and 'Special Font' the lowest. These quantitative findings were supported by qualitative comments. University students with dyslexia can use evidence from this study when considering which learning strategies to implement. University staff, researchers, and policymakers can also use findings of this study to inform their decisions. Such applications of the study findings could ultimately improve wellbeing and success of university students with dyslexia.