Dyscalculia in higher education
2016-06-03T13:34:22Z (GMT) by
This research study provides an insight into the experiences of dyscalculic students in higher education (HE). It explores the nature of dyscalculia from the student perspective, adopting a theoretical framework of the social model of disability combined with socio-cultural theory. This study was not aimed at understanding the neurological reasons for dyscalculia, but focussed on the social effects of being dyscalculic and how society can help support dyscalculic students within an HE context. The study s primary data collection method was 14 semi-structured interviews with officially identified dyscalculic students who were currently, or had been recently, studying in higher education in the UK. A participant selection method was utilised using a network of national learning support practitioners due to the limited number of participants available. A secondary data collection method involved reflective learning support sessions with two students. Data were collected across four research areas: the identification process, HE mathematics, learning support and categorisations of dyscalculia. A fifth area of fitness to practise could not be examined in any depth due to the lack of relevant participants, but the emerging data clearly pinpointed this as a significant area of political importance and identified a need for further research. A framework of five categories of dyscalculic HE student was used for data analysis. Participants who aligned with these categories tended to describe differing experiences or coping behaviours within each of the research areas. The main findings of the study were the importance of learning support practitioners in tackling mathematical anxiety, the categorisations of dyscalculic higher education students, the differing learning styles of dyscalculic and dyslexic students, and the emergence of four under-researched dyscalculic characteristics: iconicity, time perception, comprehension of the existence of numbers that are not whole and dyscalculic students understanding of non-cardinal numbers.