How does being a student with dyslexia make you feel? This is the essential question behind my recent survey of dyslexic students. Scroll down to see what they expressed about studying and self-esteem.
What you need to know about this survey.
When I put this survey together the aim was to get a general overview on how students with dyslexia are affected emotionally by certain aspects of studying.
The response to the survey was limited with only 45 participants and so the data presented should only be taken as an indication of how a student could feel rather than that of a conclusive set of data.
How old were the participants?
The breakdown of participants showed that the bulk of the group (44%) were aged between 11 to 14 years of age with the next largest group being between 19 and 21 (27%).
I think that this spread of ages worked out in this way because a lot of my blog articles are read by parents of children with dyslexia and so I am guessing that those parents asked their children and young people to help with this survey.
I am pleased that I was able to get responses from that 11 to 14 age group as personally, I believe that mental wellbeing and how dyslexia affects it, is not necessarily considered in schools across the UK for this age group and I believe that there is a huge need for schools to be proactive in joining these particular dots and putting initiatives in place as being requested by the British Dyslexia Association recently, see The Human Cost of Dyslexia results.
Most of the participants (97%) had a formal diagnosis of dyslexia in place.
The results also showed that 67% of the participants were diagnosed during their primary education years. This won’t be a surprise as most of the participants are currently in secondary education. This data does seem to suggest that secondary schools are perhaps weaker at identifying a student with dyslexia.
From my perspective this wasn’t a surprise given the many hundreds of comments and conversations I have had with parents and teachers on this topic.
Rating one’s self-esteem.
I asked the participants to rate their self-esteem on a scale of 1 (poor) to 10 (strong).
About a third of the participants rated themselves a 5 with the rest of the participants providing responses across the scale.
I was surprised that the responses were spread so widely across the scale as I was expecting a weighting towards the lower scores. With this small group it is hard to make any major conclusions apart from to say that most of the participants would consider themselves to not have a good self-esteem but equally not ‘rock bottom’ either.
For me this data isn’t conclusive enough and I think that if we had had more participants we may have obtained a more accurate picture. The results do indicate that a slight majority of participants would rate themselves as lower in self-esteem ( scoring 1 to 5).
How confident are dyslexic students?
I asked for the students to rate their confidence and as you can see the majority of the responses indicate lower levels of confidence.
Again this is not really a surprise as everyday students will be asked to do academic tasks that often play to their weaknesses being dyslexic and this will affect attainment.
By now you will get a sense of the types of questions I am asking and in this question we see more of a spread but the majority is definitely between one and five.
In this question we can see that students mostly sit in the middle of the range in terms of how these particular participants rate their literacy skills with a bias towards the one to five region of scoring.
The participants seemed to be more spread out in their responses.
With this question I didn’t set a context for memory e.g working memory or long term memory, so as a result the scores will be a little ambiguous. That said, challenges with memory that are often related to slow processing with dyslexia is common and so we can see that there is a weighting towards the lower end of the scale.
Listening and taking notes.
So if memory is an issue for some dyslexic students, then presumably the need to listen and take effective notes is important in class?
The participants were asked to share how they would score themselves on a scale of one to ten.
We can see that the majority of our participants indicated that they would mostly give a low score for their ability to listen and take notes. For me this is a real concern as taking notes is essential for future exam preparation. If our students know that they are struggling with this then our schools need to change their approach in how they empower students to take useful notes
Planning studying and revision?
In this question we can see a strong bias in reported scores towards the lower end of the scale.
Planning is often a challenge for dyslexic minds and I honestly believe it is because we are taught to plan in a linear way. We all know about our collective love of to do lists and how they can get ever longer. With a linear approach to planning we can often feel a sense of overwhelm that makes the nature of planning more emotionally challenging because we are trying to take our non-linear thinking process an apply it to a linear process and somehow that doesn’t always work out.
In a related way, it is possible that with poor planning comes poor time management.
Mental wellbeing for dyslexic students.
In this section we do need to be careful about conclusions given the limited data set. That said, what you are about to see certainly seems to confirm some of the trends that I have noticed for students with dyslexia.
Managing stress and anxiety.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that whilst anxiety within normal levels is healthy for us all in terms of making us safe, those levels can be stretched when we are in an environment that challenges our abilities or puts us in situations where we know that we are being forced to work from our weaknesses rather than strengths.
So if dyslexic students feel anxious, then how do they think that they are doing with managing stress and anxiety?
The responses on this survey show that the majority of the group (29) rated themselves low on managing stress and anxiety (one to five scores) versus the 16 who rated themselves higher.
I just want to make the point that if schools and colleges can help young people to manage their stress and anxiety then I believe that this will help with engagement. Certainly when we feel less anxious we are perhaps more able to concentrate.
Ability to concentrate.
The responses below show a majority scoring themselves five and below. Great to see that some of the participants are able to say that they can concentrate well but this data suggests that concentration is a challenge in school or college.
The data above also suggests that if we struggle with stress and anxiety as well as concentration then perhaps our enjoyment of studying reduces.
Enjoyment of Studying.
It is probably not a surprise that in the survey we can see that the majority of the participants do not enjoy studying.
There is a lot that schools and colleges can do to support the learning of dyslexic students.
The quotation below really sums up the difference effective intervention makes in terms of the attainment of a dyslexic student.