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Who’s Really Supporting Us? The Disabled Student Experience

Hinchcliffe, Vanessa (2009) Who’s Really Supporting Us? The Disabled Student Experience. In: Degrees of Independence: Providing Inclusive Learning in Higher Education, 16-17 April 2009, University of Huddersfield, UK. (Unpublished)

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This paper explores preliminary findings from online interviews with educational support workers and web-based diaries with university students with social communication difficulties, concerning student support networks and the implications for retention and progression. Mostly, support workers with the least training and experience were less confident in contributing to the establishment and maintenance of student support networks. However, those with more training and experience were more confident in providing advice and support to develop students’ social skills and facilitate broader support networks. Regardless of training and experience, support workers were generally reluctant to engage in peer networking because it places them in danger of crossing professional boundaries. This can have serious negative consequences for those who have peer networking difficulties. Increased student isolation from their peers puts students at risk of dropping out or failing, both at modular and course level. Nevertheless, support workers agree that if there is a clear identified and evidenced need, students should have access to peer networking support to encourage social integration. However, who could provide this peer networking support remains unclear at this phase of inquiry. Emerging issues from student diaries indicate that there are a number of people supporting them; support workers and lecturers can provide visible adjustments, whereas family and peers can provide invisible support.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: The idea for the conference arose from a Teaching Quality Enhancement Fund (TQEF) research project in the School of Human and Health Sciences on ‘Enhancing transitions for disabled students’. The project had funding for dissemination, and it was decided that a vibrant, student-centred event for disabled students would be in keeping with the spirit of the project. Working closely with the University of Huddersfield Students’ Union, a two day event was planned, to provide opportunities for student-only space as well as for students to present academic papers alongside staff. The first day was student-led event, and the second a more traditional academic conference, sharing the same themes and concerns. In keeping with the aim of the conference, the TQEF funding was used to provide free places for students (and their personal assistants) and also free accommodation, to allow students from outside the region to attend
Uncontrolled Keywords: Synchronous online interviewing, web-based diaries, social communication difficulties, higher education, disability support
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
L Education > L Education (General)
Schools: School of Human and Health Sciences
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Vanessa Blyth
Date Deposited: 15 May 2009 14:35
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 23:08


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