Senior Clinical Lecturer in Primary Dental Care
Following feedback from students with specific learning differences, staff at the Institute of Dentistry have taken steps to create a more inclusive learning environment.
Students with dyslexia, ADHD and/or dyspraxia reported difficulty in listening to live lectures, reading slides, and making notes at the same time. Students in this situation benefitted very little from live lectures.
They also reported that the ways in which exams were written and formatted posed problems for them. As such, there was a clear need for adjustments to be made.
It was proposed that the Disability and Dyslexia Service add a new recommendation that students could be excused from live lectures. Instead, they could access recordings of these lectures in their own time and at the pace needed for them to understand the teaching content.
This adjustment has been piloted since January 2021, and many dyslexic students have applied to request it.
Exams and assessments in Dentistry have been rewritten and formatted using the 'writing inclusively' guidelines to make the content more accessible to all students.
OSCEs are a type of examination designed to test clinical skills performance and competence in a range of skills in a short period of time. Often, students with dyslexia, dyspraxia, or ADHD; non-native English speakers; and those who are slow readers struggle during OSCEs due to the time restraints and formatting. Now, OSCEs have been written and formatted using inclusivity guidelines. When the reformatted OSCEs were trialled, students found it easier to recall instructions.
Staff are normally unaware of health conditions, neurodiversity, or different learning styles a student might have. To address this, the Dentistry department adopted 'student support cards'.
Students were involved in the development of these cards, on which they can write anything they would like teaching staff to know about their needs and request any adjustments. This removes the need to repeatedly tell each new tutor about them, making it easier for students to receive specific support from staff.