about this research project


This blog is the discussion and writing portal for this PhD Research Project, based at Middlesex University, London UK.

The research is interested in the relationship between dyslexia and academic agency in university students. It hopes to unpick some of the issues surrounding the stigma attached to being labelled as ‘dyslexic’ in a literacy-based education system and explore how these impact on students’ sense of academic purpose. Zimmerman (1995) talked of this sense of purpose as academic agency, suggesting that when considered as a product of academic self-efficacy and academic confidence this becomes the major influencing factor on academic accomplishment.

It is by focusing on these components, in particular, academic confidence, that meaning will be sought from both the numbers and the words that arrive through the data collecting processes.  Careful and incisive analysis will hopefully point towards a deeper understanding about what dyslexia means at university and indeed, whether it is helpful to continue to identify those with alternative, preferred learning characteristics as ‘disabled’ in the belief that this will positively contribute to their learning experiences at university.

It is thought that the research methodology and processes scoped out to explore this relationship are fresh and innovative, especially through the development of an alternative framework against which a dyslexic profile is contextually defined and quantified. It is hoped that the discourse that the project may provoke and promote might contribute a little  to a wider discussion about the nature of inclusive and accessible curricula in university learning and teaching in the UK, that shifts focus from the deficit model of learning support, so regularly ascribed to students with learning differences, to one of learning development which more proactively engages with the students’ learning strengths and creativity in ways that ensures their greater academic integration into the wider knowledge communities at university.

This study blog will form an integral part of the research process as it diarizes and records the researcher’s progress throughout the project – which will be an invaluable part of the ‘write-up’ process at the end.  But it is also hoped that contributions and comments will be received from respected, existing researchers in the broad field of educational research as the project gains momentum, and that these will also guide the project as it matures.

Zimmerman, B.J., 1995, Self-efficacy and educational development. In: Bandura, A., Self-efficacy in changing societies, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

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