Enhancing the quality and outcomes
To understand how disabled students' academic performance and experience of teaching, learning and assessment varies by disability, subject studied and by type of institution, how this experience develops during their course and how their learning outcomes compare with those of non-disabled students.
Our research will compare policy and procedures over four years and obtain statistics on the performance of all disabled students in four United Kingdom universities during the course of their degree programme. The performance of disabled and non-disabled students in particular institutions will be compared, taking account of social class, gender and ethnicity, enabling us to examine any differences between disabled and non-disabled students in terms of class of degree obtained or failure to complete a degree.
Key informants will be interviewed in each university, such as:
- senior managers with a variety of responsibilities for teaching, learning and assessment and for students, including disabled students
- disabled students' adviser
- head of student welfare
- head of the teaching development and learning support service
- selected heads of academic departments and course leaders
Surveys of both disabled students and of teaching staff at the beginning of the project will provide baseline information about practices and policies for teaching, learning and assessment in each university.
Students with different disabilities and studying a range of subjects will be selected in each university. Throughout their course they will be observed at their studies for a week each year, that is, while taking part in timetabled teaching and learning sessions and in self-directed learning and assessment tasks. During these weeks selected lecturers who teach the disabled students will be interviewed about teaching and assessment issues raised for them and other students by the presence of disabled students in a variety of teaching and learning environments (e.g. mass lectures, groupwork, seminars, workshops, fieldwork, laboratory sessions). This material will be used to identify the nature of barriers in teaching, learning and assessment policies and practices as well as those policies and practices which are enabling.
Each university will designate a Project Action Committee (PAC) whose members will include key personnel with institutional responsibility for teaching, learning and assessment and for disability issues. One person from each group will serve as an advisor to the research team. The team will make regular reports to the PAC and will receive information about policy and practice changes within the university. This sets up a two-way exchange of information about action, so that as well as locating barriers, we shall also document universities' efforts to remove them and to embed practices that enhance students' learning.
Implications of the findings for the new legal requirements to make anticipatory 'reasonable adjustments' will be drawn out.
Teaching and Learning Research Programme, Economic and Social Research Council
Funding and timetable
The Economic and Social Research Council has awarded £469,237 to the project in Phase III of its Teaching and Learning Research Programme, Economic and Social Research Council award RES-139-25-0135, for the period 1 January 2003 to 31 December 2007
Professor Mary Fuller, University of Gloucestershire,
Dr Andrew Bradley, University of Gloucestershire,
Professor Mick Healey, University of Gloucestershire,
Professor Alan Hurst, University of Central Lancashire,
Gillian Oddy, University of Gloucestershire,
Dr Linda Piggott, Lancaster/UCLA,
Professor Sheila Riddell, University of Edinburgh,
Terry Wareham, Lancaster University,
Dr Elisabet Weedon, University of Edinburgh
1 January 2004
30 June 2007
For further information about the project contact Gillian Oddy.