Special Teaching in Higher Education: Successful Strategies for Access and Inclusion

By Stuart Powell | Go to book overview

7

Issues for pedagogy (1)

Stuart Powell


Limiting preconceptions versus adaptation and innovation

Students with the visual and hearing impairments and physical disabilities mentioned in this first part of the book succeed in almost all areas of higher education. Jones and Hopkins give examples of students with physical disabilities successfully completing courses that in recent years would have been closed to them because of their disability alone. It is also clear from the evidence quoted by Roy (eg Richardson and Roy, 2002) that physical difficulties with hearing, vision and mobility do not have a significant negative effect on level of attainment. However, some subject areas attract more students with a particular impairment or disability than do others (for example, students with a visual impairment are more likely to choose computer science than architecture).

The issues for educators then are, first, how to guide choice of course without being constrained by any preconceptions of limitations imposed by condition, and second, how to think creatively about different ways of learning that can be employed to achieve the same learning outcomes. In this latter issue, the matter of adapting curriculum content and/or delivery becomes pre-eminent. Academic staff need to begin to challenge their own view of limits and their own view of what is required by way of participation in the curriculum to achieve a particular standard of performance, be that intellectual or physical. It may well be that innovative approaches or techniques are required to enable students to gain access to the successful learning that is possible for them.

-112-

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