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Classification and stigma: Theorising the identity impact of dyslexia for students in UK higher education

Hamilton Clark, Charlotte H; (2022) Classification and stigma: Theorising the identity impact of dyslexia for students in UK higher education. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis investigates the identity impact of dyslexia for students in UK higher education. It responds to gaps in the literature exploring the experiences of students with dyslexia and theorises the impacts of dyslexia’s stigma and universities’ dyslexia classification as defect and disability. To explore these areas, in the project I interviewed five UK students with dyslexia and triangulated these findings with four university learning support tutors. The students noted dyslexia’s heterogeneity, invisibility and situational nature contrasted with societal assumptions of specific negative traits and universities’ standard support. Moreover, previously unidentified dyslexia impacted students’ academic choices and self-esteem. Universities’ classification of dyslexia as a disability, directed by UK law and evident in university policy, led to stigma as dyslexia was categorised as an individual problem needing remedial help. In the analysis I apply critical perspectives from the related fields of education research, disability studies and identity work addressing social justice, health and disease. These ideas explore social classification, question societal assumptions about difference, highlight stigma and the implications of stigma management, and challenge the distribution of power between student and institution. This thesis theorises the impact on student identity of dyslexia’s stigma by probing students’ academic self-concept and stigma management through non-disclosure, hiding or rejecting dyslexia as an identity aspect and considers the consequences of identity deception, conflict and dependency on support. The conclusions primarily contribute to dyslexia research in higher education, applying critical perspectives to develop theory and highlight priorities for the field. I also suggest implications for university policy and practice in dyslexia support provision, to lessen its stigma and encourage a wider appreciation of the benefits of cognitive diversity in UK higher education.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Classification and stigma: Theorising the identity impact of dyslexia for students in UK higher education
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2022. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Education, Practice and Society
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10156218
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