Helping dyslexic students to negotiate the challenges of essay-writing : a case study

Colledge, Marion and Hargreaves, Sandra (2008) Helping dyslexic students to negotiate the challenges of essay-writing : a case study. Investigations in university teaching and learning, 5 (1). pp. 36-41. ISSN 1740-5106


The student body on the BA English Language Studies degree (BA ELS) at London Metropolitan University (London Met) consists of a diverse mix, with many students with 'non-standard' entry qualifications. Each year we have been referring roughly a quarter of our Home-status students to Student Services for dyslexia screening. Whilst we are aware of the criticisms of essays as a mode of assessment, e.g. Glasner, (1999), Lea and Street (1999), Lillis (2003), and English (2007), the currently validated degree demands that students on BA ELS will write approximately nineteen of them in their three years with us. There is a subject-specific structure and register in these essays, which tend to have elements both of scientific description and of argumentation. Regarding style, there is no compulsion to write in the third person (‘It is claimed that...’ etc); a high level of indirect critical citation is important, however (Hyland, 2004). As a result of poorly structured essays submitted by First Years, Steve Jones [my colleague on BA ELS] and I carried out a survey among First Semester students in Autumn 2006. This paper explains the dyslexia student support that resulted from the survey.

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