Lois MacCullagh was a good student at high school, with high marks in the subjects she studied.
It wasn’t until she started university almost 20 years ago that things began to change. Struggling to keep up with her studies, Lois dropped out and went into the workforce instead.
“I’d always done so well at high school, so I didn’t understand why I was finding university so difficult,” said Lois. “Part of me felt that I just wasn’t smart enough for the big league but another part of me realised that something else was going on.”
Determined to find out the cause of her educational struggles, Lois spent the next two years searching for answers and discovered she was dyslexic.
This gave Lois motivation to give university another go and successfully complete two degrees.
But Lois’ story is not unique for students who have dyslexia.
She will share her experience and study into students with dyslexia at Connect More: Learning and Teaching Week 2015 during the popular Poster Session on Thursday 17 September at the Macquarie Theatre Foyer between 1pm – 2pm.
Her study Students with Dyslexia at University: Working Together to Connect the Pieces looks at the challenges dyslexic students face while studying at university.
“My study found students with dyslexia tended to work much harder than their non-dyslexic peers. Some would view each lecture up to three times, re-wrote notes multiple times and sourced additional resources to supplement course materials.”
“Many expressed strong appreciation for face-to-face learning interactions and less enjoyment from recorded lectures.”
Lois has developed a booklet of practical strategies that individual students can use to help them with their studies.
“However, ultimately, I believe that University policy makers, staff and administrators need to work together with students to make reasonable adjustments across the whole system. And they won’t have to start from scratch – my research findings can provide them with really good goal posts to aim for.”
While undertaking her research, Lois initially struggled to find students with dyslexia to participate.
“On completion of my research, I reflected on the recruitment process and wondered why dyslexic students did not volunteer sooner. I think that one of our major research findings may have come to play in this. We found that dyslexic students were working harder than their non-dyslexic peers to keep up with their studies,” said Lois.
“I suspect this may have forced them to prioritise essential activities over non-essential ones. Any future research, collaboration or consultation with dyslexic students must take this into consideration.”
“Ultimately, I hope my research will lead to changes that will level the playing field for all students with dyslexia and enable them to survive and thrive at university.”
Attendees to Connect More: Learning and Teaching Week 2015 can find out more about Lois’ findings along with other Poster presentations.
What you need to know:
Poster sessions will be held on Thursday 17 September, 1pm -2pm, Macquarie Theatre Foyer
Registration is essential if you intend on coming along to the lunch and After Party. Click here to register.