Speakers: Lynne Cole, City, University of London
Series: HCID Research Seminars
In the UK, 2-3% of the undergraduate population have dyslexia, which is a hereditary cognitive disability that manifests itself in difficulties in reading, writing and spelling skills. These difficulties are persistent throughout life and can cause disengagement and underachievement within HE for those with the condition. Information-seeking is an integral component of the skills that undergraduate students require for success in HE and beyond, and requires complex cognitive skills. The symptoms of dyslexia can cause difficulties with complex cognitive tasks that involve higher order cognitive and affective skills, such as those required for information-seeking. It is possible that without mastery of the necessary information-seeking skills, chances of success in HE are hindered. However, how dyslexia may impact upon information-seeking has not been widely studied previously. This research seeks to begin to understand how the difficulties associated with dyslexia may present barriers during the information-seeking process within the context of preparation for an HE assignment, to allow recommendations for support, through instruction or system design, to be made.
Data on the information-seeking behaviour of fourteen undergraduate students, seven with and seven without dyslexia was collected in a three stage process. Firstly, information on participants’ cognitive profile, self-efficacy and information-seeking experience was collected in an initial protocol. Participants then collected screen recordings of the information-seeking they conducted throughout the duration of one module that they were studying as part of their degree course. Lastly, they were invited back to interview to discuss their information-seeking.
Barriers to information-seeking were discovered that could be attributed to the cognitive and affective characteristics common to a person with dyslexia’s profile. Barriers included; the ability to generate, modify and spell search queries, the skills to incorporate information found into an evolving search and the ability to utilise advanced search features effectively. When two groups, one of undergraduates with dyslexia and one without dyslexia, were asked to rate their self-efficacy relating to a number of academic and information skills, low levels of self-efficacy in their ability to perform successful information-seeking in the dyslexic group was recorded.
A retrospective think aloud protocol is planned for future work, to deepen understanding of the barriers faced by this group as they seek information and inform recommendations for how best to support information-seekers with dyslexia in HE through both instructional design and online information system design.
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