Lancaster University

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Learning and Disability Study

03/24/2004 13:48:22

Disabled students at Lancaster University are to take part in a new study designed to assess teaching quality and explore learning needs.

Researchers are set to follow a group of disabled students through from fresher’s week to graduation to discover how well universities cater for them in the classroom.

The first study of its kind, the project will shadow 48 disabled students studying diverse subjects at four universities across the country.

Student volunteers - including 12 from Lancaster - with disabilities ranging from sight and hearing impairments to mobility problems and mental health issues will be interviewed and shadowed regularly over three years.

Researchers, who will focus purely on the group’s learning and teaching experiences, will compare university policy and procedures as well as obtaining statistics on the performance of all disabled students at the four universities. Shining examples of good practice will be flagged up and the results of the research shared with other universities and learning bodies.

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council over four years to the tune of £435,000, the project will be led by Professor Mary Fuller of the University of Gloucestershire.

Terry Wareham Director of the Centre for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching at Lancaster University, one of the four researchers on the project, said the purpose of the exercise was to find out what barriers disabled students encountered in their learning environment and what was being done to overcome them.

She said: “Because of the length of this study it is going to require a degree of commitment from the disabled students who take part - each student will see a researcher once a term during their degree. We wanted to ensure students got something out of the experience so we will be seeking out examples of good practice and feeding back to both staff and students at the end of every year.”

Other universities taking part are The University of Central Lancashire, Edinburgh University and the University of Gloucestershire.