Taylor, Georgia (2019) Living with the dyslexia label: Exploring the life narratives of students labelled with dyslexia in higher education from a sociocultural perspective. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

The present study explores the life narratives of higher education students labelled with dyslexia, with particular focus on their perceptions of the educational practices that enabled and disabled their learning. By situating learning and learning difficulty within the wider social and cultural context, the research was able to explore ‘dyslexia’ through the participants’ experiences of participation and non-participation within different social practices, throughout their life. A total of 6 participants from the University of Huddersfield voluntarily took part in 2 interviews each. The data from the interviews was then analysed using thematic analysis, which was guided by communities of practice theory. The following four themes emerged from the data: Disabling barriers within the education system, Being acquired by the ‘disability’ label, Enabling practices and Eesisting the disability label. Overall, the main findings suggest that there are numerous learning barriers that exist within the education system as a result of marginalising practices, particularly at school and college. This has shown to have detrimental effects on the participants’ learning identity and thus learning development. However, once the participants experienced legitimate participation within a practice they enjoyed and felt they were good at, their identity shifted from a marginal identity to a much more positive learning identity, which encouraged their motivation to learn. Importantly, through the exploration of life narratives,the research was therefore able to capture how identity fluctuates throughout the participants’ learning journey, through participation and non-participation within different communities of practice.Therefore, the findings provide support against the view that learning and learning difficulty is a ‘fixed innate ability’ and ultimately encouraging the notion of life-long learning development.

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