Guide to supporting students with dyslexia published

September 20, 2013

The IOP has produced a practical guide to supporting STEM students with dyslexia – thought to be about 5% of all STEM students in higher education. It aims to show how dyslexia affects students in STEM and describes some simple measures for making teaching and learning more accessible.

The Institute's diversity programme leader, Jenni Dyer, said: "We've tried to make it as practical as possible. There's a lot of material out there on dyslexia and good practice already, but nothing specific to STEM students. Hence it was important that the guide was very STEM-focused so that people could read it and think 'maybe I'll try that'. It includes a lot of really good material that will enable all STEM academic staff to make simple adjustments to ensure that all their students, not just those with dyslexia, learn better."

The guide is aimed primarily at academic staff, both at the level of their individual teaching and at the departmental level. When departments set exams and marking criteria, for example, the guide encourages them to focus on the core competences of the course rather than penalising students for irrelevant mistakes, such as mis-spelling a scientist's name. The IOP hopes that the guide will also be useful to students who want to ask about the provision available in their universities.

More than half of people with dyslexia also have "visual stress", in which the text they are reading appears to move or dance around the page. A simple adjustment, such as using an inexpensive coloured overlay sheet, can make a substantial difference to this, Dyer said. The guide also mentions that dyslexic students might have to "re-read information to take in the meaning". This is arguably common to most students, but Dyer explained that for a dyslexic student, just processing the letters making up the words can take a lot longer than is usual.

One student quoted in the guide comments: "It would be very nice to have a five-credit module on scientific writing at the beginning of the second year. Students don't want to learn halfway through the third year how to write properly." Another says: "Yes I got my first, but I had to work three times harder than anyone else."

Dyer said: "Moving into HE, the volume of study can have a massive impact on with dyslexia because suddenly they're overwhelmed with reading and it can take them perhaps a term to read one book. Students can fear being discriminated against if they disclose their but the quicker that they tell their universities, the more support can be put in place before they arrive. Dyslexia is now a well-recognised condition, likely to be present at birth, and it doesn't go away, though you can get better at dealing with it as you get older."

Explore further: E-readers more effective than paper for dyslexic readers

More information:

Related Stories

E-readers more effective than paper for dyslexic readers

September 18, 2013

As e-readers grow in popularity as convenient alternatives to traditional books, researchers at the Smithsonian have found that convenience may not be their only benefit. The team discovered that when e-readers are set up ...

Dyslexic's research set to help fellow sufferers

June 15, 2012

A University of Derby student inspired by her own experience to examine the challenges dyslexic students face at University, was surprised and delighted to see her research published in a top psychological journal.

Action video games boost reading skills, study finds

February 28, 2013

Much to the chagrin of parents who think their kids should spend less time playing video games and more time studying, time spent playing action video games can actually make dyslexic children read better. In fact, 12 hours ...

Brain study aims to improve dyslexia treatment

July 25, 2013

Neuroscientist Sarah Laszlo wants to understand what's going on in children's brains when they're reading. Her research may untangle some of the mysteries surrounding dyslexia and lead to new methods of treating America's ...

Recommended for you

Study shows there's a positive side to worrying

April 27, 2017

Worry - it does a body good. And, the mind as well. A new paper by Kate Sweeny, psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside, argues there's an upside to worrying.

Study links cannabis use in adolescence to schizophrenia

April 26, 2017

Scientists believe that schizophrenia, a disorder caused by an imbalance in the brain's chemical reactions, is triggered by a genetic interaction with environmental factors. A new Tel Aviv University study published in Human ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.