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  5. Learning and Development Needs of Autistic Adults Studying STEM Subjects via Distance Learning

Learning and Development Needs of Autistic Adults Studying STEM Subjects via Distance Learning

Project leader(s): 
Laura Dean
Theme: 
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Archived

This project looks at the specific learning and development needs of autistic students. Autistic students may have distinct needs there are aspects of their lived experience which can impact their ability to learn. Autism is related to anxiety and depression (Berthoz et al., 2013) as well as suicide ideation, attempts and deaths (Cassidy et al, 2014, Hirvikoski et al, 2016). All of these issues can create extra general support issues for their tutors. In addition, autistic graduates’ employment outcomes are significantly worse than both disabled and non-disabled peers at 36 % in comparison 51 % and 58 % respectively (AGCAS,2017). Consequently, this project investigates autistic students learning needs and issues faced whilst studying.

The project uses mixed methods. Firstly, quantitative examination of the achievement outcomes for autistic versus neurotypical students will be conducted. This will allow the identification of patterns of difficulty across courses or schools. Following this, semi-structured interviews will be conducted with autistic students to explore their own perceptions of their needs and descriptions of difficulties. Thematic analysis will be used to analyse the generated interview transcripts. It is anticipated a range of practical recommendations will result from this analysis which will assist with future course design; training of Associate Lecturers as well as auditing of learning and assessment materials to check for any problem areas.

Laura Dean project poster

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