"A person has a disability [...] if he or she has a physical or mental impairment and the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities."
This is a summary: you should read the full guidance yourself and also take heed of advice provided by your institution
"A university recognises that making an adjustment to provide handouts in advance in electronic format is a common anticipatory need for disabled students, for example students who lip-read, students with dyslexia and students with visual impairments. The university makes this adjustment and agrees timescales to ensure all staff have teaching notes available in this way. This is an example of an anticipatory adjustment."
"It may be appropriate for a university to install a hearing loop in all its lecture theatres to anticipate deaf students’ needs, but it may not be reasonable for it to have a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter on its payroll prior to any deaf students being admitted to the university."
"Generally, students are surprised by both the teaching method at university and the nature of university mathematics"
Thomlinson, Challis, and Robinson. 2009. Student Experiences of the Transition to University. MSOR Connections 9 (2): 48–51.
|Characterised by learning of processes through 'doing'; mastery in class possible||Characterised by learning of concepts; mastery in class unusual|
|Directed learning; repetitive practise; regular feedback||Independent learning; explorative practise|
|Can clarify in 'real time'||Often can't clarify in class|
|Regular experience of 'success'; right or wrong||Progress hard to 'see'; less deterministic|
|Maths resources provided in required formats||Expected to access maths resources independently|
|Specialist support near level of mathematical fluency||Specialist support with maths background rare|
Mathematics at university level is
We need students to have the processing capacity to engage with concepts and abstract thinking.
Do we provide disabled students with adequate information to enable them to prepare?
Quotes from Mathematics Subject Benchmark (Quality Assurance Agency for HE (2015))
"The number of UK-domiciled entrants to full-time first degree courses with a known disability was 40,500 in 2014-15, which was an increase of 42 per cent since 2010-11." (HEFCE)
is present when an exceptional degree of variation between neurocognitive processes results in noticeable and unexpected weaknesses in the performance of some everyday tasks when compared with much higher performances on a subset of measures of verbal and/or visual abilities for a given individual. These [...] include tasks of learning and remembering, time management, social interaction and attention span, as well as tasks requiring fine and gross motor movements
is a positive statement of differentiation
Grant, 2009. The psychological assessment of neurodiversity. Neurodiversity in higher education: Positive responses to specific learning differences, 33-62.
Dyslexia mainly affects the development of literacy and language related skills. It is characterised by difficulties with:
This can result in difficulties with reading, writing, spelling, sequencing and memory. Areas of relative strength might include, for example, verbal comprehension, visual reasoning, and holistic, rather than sequential, processing.
Dyspraxia affects the planning of what you do and how you do it. It is associated with problems of perception, language and thought and is characterised by difficulties with:
This can result in difficulties with organisation, attention, spatial awareness, managing time and space, sequencing, memory and written expression. Areas of relative strength might include, for instance, verbal comprehension, verbal reasoning and 'out of the box' thinking.
Asperger's syndrome is a form of autism. It is characterised by difficulties with:
This can result in difficulties with processing information, change, seeing another's point of view, concentration in presence of sensory stimuli and communication with peers. Areas of relative strength might include, for instance, a high level of focus on mathematics of interest, logical thinking, appreciation for detail and complexity of arguments.
Students with mental health issues, conditions which cause pain, fatigue or restricted movement and students with sensory impairments may experience difficulties with:
This one to one support addresses the issues which some students might have in acquiring, recalling and retaining information in written and spoken language as well as the range of memory, organisational, attention and numeracy difficulties that students with specific learning differences often face when working in an HE context.
[...] This support should aim to develop students’ skills for autonomy in the learning environment. It should be tailored to a student’s individual needs [...]
Student Finance England, Non-Medical Help Services Reference Manual
A student may not build effective and appropriate mathematics study skills for their degree.
Without which effectively acquiring mathematical information and skills independently is difficult.
Constant fire-fighting erodes confidence...
and may challenge a core identity of maths students who "hated English but was good at maths".
Quality Assurance Agency for HE (2015)
Learners benefit from seeing arguments developed [...] in 'real time' [...] Traditional board-based lectures continue to be widely used, often augmented by more interactive teaching approaches.
Equality and Human Rights commission (2011)
A common anticipatory adjustment of providing resources in advance in electronic formats.
What we want...
For all students to follow the lecture and to engage with the concepts and arguments!
We don't want other tasks e.g. careful copying to take precedence.
"in the case of [course materials the university] shall retain the right at any time to use, reproduce and adapt such materials freely for legitimate purposes."
2005-2017: We produced, preserved, maintained, updated, fixed and recovered LaTeX, returning it to staff as needed.
The future? Our main LaTeXer says "establishing a common standard for producing notes is the best way to not only produce accessible notes but to ensure easy transition between lecturers for a course"
"Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy is awarded to professionals who can demonstrate they meet the criteria of Descriptor 2 (D2) of the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) for teaching and supporting learning in higher education."
There is a substantial body of literature on barriers and enablers for disabled students in mathematical subjects and on mathematical pedagogy more generally.
I have included a list which could serve as starting points for those exploring their own practice.
This might range from considering a simple 'checklist' for enabling neurodiverse students to engaging with the full literature on concept images or on enabling maths students who use assistive technology.
Through Teaching Development Fund and the Reasonable Adjustments Project staff have access to funding to support exploration and change. Current projects:
Through the 12 years we also built experience and knowledge in the range of technical solutions and teaching and learning approaches which do work in a mathematical context.
Adams, Thomasenia Lott. 2003. Reading Mathematics: More than Words Can Say. The Reading Teacher 56 (8): 786–95.
Alcock, Lara. 2013. How to study for a mathematics degree. Oxford University Press.
Alcock, Lara, Mark Hodds, and Matthew Inglis. 2014. Self-Explanation Training for Mathematics Students. Mathematics Education Centre, Loughborough University.
Anthony, Glenda. 2015. When Mathematics Students Fail to Use Appropriate Learning Strategies. Mathematics Education Research Journal 8 (1): 23–37.
Brinkmann, Astrid. 2003. Graphical Knowledge Display - Mind Mapping and Concept Mapping as Efficient Tools in Mathematics Education. Mathematics Education Review, The Journal of Association of Mathematics Education Teachers 16: 39–48.
Chinn, S. J, and J. R Ashcroft. 2007. Mathematics for Dyslexics: Including Dyscalculia. 3rd ed. Whurr.
Cliffe, E. and N. A. Bradshaw. 2012. Autism Spectrum Disorders and Group Work in Mathematics. In Student-centred Approaches in Mathematics. National HE STEM Programme: Mathematical Sciences HE Curriculum Innovation Project, pp. 45–47.
Cliffe, E. and Peter Rowlett. 2012. Good Practice on Inclusive Curricula in the Mathematical Sciences, National HE STEM Programme: Mathematical Sciences HE Curriculum Innovation Project.
Cliffe, E. and Jane White. 2012. Methods to Produce Flexible and Accessible Learning Resources in Mathematics. In Student-centred Approaches in Mathematics. National HE STEM Programme: Mathematical Sciences HE Curriculum Innovation Project, pp. 35–43.
Felder, R.M. and L.K. Silverman, Learning and Teaching Styles in Engineering Education, Engr. Education, 78(7), 674-681 (1988 with 2002 preface).
Grove, Michael, Tony Croft, Joe Kyle, and Duncan Lawson. 2015. Transitions in Undergraduate Mathematics Education (includes: Trott, C. The neurodiverse mathematics student and Cliffe, E. Creating an accessible learning environment: Anticipating and resolving practical barriers). University of Birmingham.
Houston, Kevin. 2009. How to Think Like a Mathematician. Cambridge University Press.
Iannone, Paola and Adrian Simpson. 2012. Mapping University Mathematics Assessment Practices. University of East Anglia.
Institute of Physics. 2017. Building momentum towards inclusive teaching and learning: A good-practice guide for undergraduate physics.
Institute of Physics. 2013. Supporting STEM students with dyslexia: A good practice guide for academic staff.
Mason, John, Leone Burton, and Kaye Stacey. 2010. Thinking Mathematically. 2nd ed. Pearson Education Limited.
Polya, G. 2014. How to Solve It: A New Aspect of Mathematical Method. Princeton University Press.
Portland Community College, 2013. Making Math More Accessibility at PCC.
Schoenfeld, Alan H. 1992. Learning to Think Mathematically: Problem Solving, Metacognition, and Sense Making in Mathematics. In D. Grouws (Ed.), Handbook for Research on Mathematics Teaching and Learning (pp. 334-370). New York: MacMillan.
Shepherd, Mary D., and Carla C. van de Sande. 2014. Reading Mathematics for understanding - From Novice to Expert. The Journal of Mathematical Behavior 35 (September): 74–86.
Tall, David, and Shlomo Vinner. 1981. Concept Image and Concept Definition in Mathematics with Particular Reference to Limits and Continuity. Educational Studies in Mathematics 12 (2): 151–69.
Velleman, Daniel J. 2006. How to prove it: A structured approach. Cambridge University Press.
Vivaldi, Franco. 2014. Mathematical writing. Springer.
Williams, Carol G. 1998. Using Concept Maps to Assess Conceptual Knowledge of Function. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education 29 (4): 414–21.
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