Exploring transitions to Higher Education for students with identified disabilities

Amount awarded £5,000.00
Leader(s): Associate Professor Dr Suanne Gibson
Organisation: University of Plymouth
Contact Email: s.gibson-1@plymouth.ac.uk
Address: Plymouth University, Faculty of Education, PL4 8AA
URL: http://www.lexdis.org.uk/
Start Date: 1 June 2009


The project team:

  • Suanne Gibson (Programme Leader BA Education Studies, University of Plymouth)
  • Lynn Kendall (Liverpool John Moores University)
    Email:  L.S.Kendall@ljmu.ac.uk

Literature suggests the need for contemporary Teaching and Learning research in HE to adopt a more integrated approach to understanding disabled students experiences as learners.  Such research ensures the voices of students with disabilities are integrated and that they are carried out jointly, i.e. in more than the one institution in order to achieve a fuller and richer picture.

Writing to all year one students, October 2009, at both Plymouth and John Moores Universities who declared a disability, the aim of the project was to access 3 students from both institutions to take part as key participants and research respondents. Their perspectives and lived experiences prior to HE and during the first transition year and subsequent second year at university formed the majority of the research data.  Two semi-structured interviews were held with each student in the first year. One after completion of the first term and one upon the completion of their first year of study in May/June. A further interview was held with the same respondents in their second year. The overarching aim of these interviews was to access their lived experiences, insights, opinions and suggestions regarding the HE student experience for students with disabilities.

In keeping with Disability Research methodology, (Goodley and Moore, 2000) we ensured our participants had input in the analysis of data gathered and fedback their thoughts/views on our findings prior to dissemination. We presented our findings in research papers at he 2010 12th Athens Institute for Education and Research (AT.IN.E.R) Annual International Conference and the 2011 European Education Research Conference, Berlin.

Athens Institute for Education and Research – Suanne’s submission is No.54.


ECER 2011 paper abstract: accessed from http://www.eera.de/ecer2011/

Reflections on the second year as undergraduates: ‘access’ and matters of the socio-cultural for students with identified disabilities.

Published papers: Gibson, S. and Kendall, L. (2010), "Stories from School:
Dyslexia and Learners' Voices on factors impacting on achievement in
Support for Learning, Vol. 25 No.4.

An online copy can be found at Wiley Online Library (Warning: the full article is only available to subscribers)


Forthcoming published papers:

Gibson, S. (Volume 27 2012) Narrative Accounts of University Education: Socio-Cultural Perspectives of Students with Disabilities,  Disability and Society (accepted June 2011 after revisions made first submission Sept 2010)

Further outputs:

Research seminars on our work and findings, will be held at St John Moores and Plymouth University term 3, 2012. Further details to follow.