Teaching students who have dyslexia

Introduction to dyslexia

Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty and can be described as a continuum of difficulties in learning to read, write and/or spell, which persist despite the provision of appropriate learning opportunities. These difficulties often do not reflect an individual's cognitive abilities and may not be typical of performance in other areas. The impact of dyslexia as a barrier to learning varies in degree according to the learning and teaching environment, and there are often associated difficulties.

Dyslexia can also be viewed as a learning 'difference', meaning a person with dyslexia may approach learning differently and develop different strategies for learning.

Strengths associated with dyslexia
  • Creativity and originality

  • Strong visual thinking skills such as being able to visualise a structure from plans

  • Good verbal skills

  • Good problem solving skills

  • Holistic thinking and ‘seeing the bigger picture’

Difficulties associated with dyslexia
  • Reading speed and comprehension

  • Note taking

  • Numeracy

  • Spelling

  • Writing fluency

  • Organisation/time management

  • Short term working memory

  • Concentration

It is important to remember that everyone with dyslexia is different and that they will not necessarily experience all of the things above. Everyone has different strengths, difficulties and strategies that work for them.

Useful Links

Below are some useful external links. If there are any others that you think may be of use to students please contact us and let us know.

Dyslexia Scotland

Dyslexia Action

Book a staff awareness session

We are offering staff awareness sessions on this topic. The sessions will be an informal overview of the topic. Staff will also have the chance to discuss the guidance, its usefulness and if they feel they have anything to add to current version.

If you would like to book onto an awareness session please use the following link: http://positivelivingteam.eventbrite.com/

If you are interested in attending an awareness session but are unable to come along to the planned dates please email us at disability@gcu.ac.uk

We will keep your details on record and contact you when more awareness sessions become available.

Good Practice Guidance
General Guideline - Many of the approaches that will benefit dyslexic students will be helpful to all students and should be adopted within an inclusive teaching framework. Try to avoid making assumptions about what the student can and cannot do; including students in discussions about their learning needs and seeking feedback will help them to feel valued and facilitate improvements in communication, teaching and learning. If an inclusive approach is adopted, most of the needs of dyslexic students will be met immediately.
 
Accessible Course Materials -
  • Ensure that all your course handouts and slides are created and provided in an electronic format and are accessible to users of assistive technology, such as text to speech software. Follow our Guidance for creating accessible teaching material.
  • Ensure that reading lists, identifying key texts are provided to the student well in advance of when they are required (at least 4 weeks prior). This will enable dyslexic students to plan ahead and start reading as early as possible
Lectures -Consider the slide format in relation to the accessible text guidelines.
  • Ensure that all handouts and other materials to be referred to in class are made available, in an accessible format, prior to the class.
  • Students are permitted to audio record their lectures, tutorials and supervision sessions using their own equipment for their own personal learning, and in compliance with GCU guidance on the use of recordings
Seminars/Tutorials/Labs -Ensure dyslexic students have had the opportunity to view class materials in advance to enable them to prepare effectively
  • Some dyslexic students have significant difficulties reading unseen material on the spot. This is not the case for all dyslexic students so it is important to get to know your students and to not make assumptions about what they might find challenging 
  • Dyslexic students often prefer speaking to reading and writing. Where possible encourage and enable dyslexic students to convey their knowledge orally. Encourage discussion and interaction in class
Assessment and exams - Consider which assessment formats will enable dyslexic students to fully demonstrate their knowledge. Traditional assessment methods, such as essays and exams, are often a barrier to dyslexic students due to the nature of the assessment style
Individual Adjustments

Please refer to the student's Recommended Adjustments Page (RAP) where applicable.  This should detail the individual adjustments the student has discussed with their Disability Adviser.  Examples of individual adjustments include:

  • Exams and Tests: Additional time, use of a computer.
  • Placements: Consider alternative methods for initial recording of client/patient notes such as using a Dictaphone.
  • Other: Give sympathetic consideration to requests for extensions to deadlines

The guidance provided is not exhaustive. Every dyslexic student is different and as such the needs of each individual will differ. Specific supports and adjustments will be detailed in a student’s RAP.