"This isn't working for me. Can we do it a different way?" The Lived Experiences of Geoscience Students with Learning Disabilities

Poster Session Part of Wednesday Poster Session


Nina Morris, Western Michigan University
Heather Petcovic, Western Michigan University

The purpose of this exploratory qualitative study is to better understand the lived experiences of geoscience students with learning disabilities in their undergraduate and graduate classes. Students with learning disabilities bring a unique perspective while also facing unique challenges in post-secondary education. The literature currently reports limited information about what supports, technology, personal learning strategies, and teaching strategies are beneficial to this population. Understanding experiences of students with learning disabilities can encourage further diversity in the geosciences.

Participants in this study included 4 undergraduate and 2 graduate geoscience students in the United States who identified as having a learning disability such as dyslexia and dysgraphia. This study identified formal accommodations and personal strategies students found useful in their course work as well as barriers that negatively impacted students. Barriers included students not knowing what accommodations or resources were available to support them in their geoscience classes. Personal strategies student's utilities included the use of technologies such as cell phones to make taking notes faster. Some students also stressed the importance of seeking out and having conversations with their professors about their strengths and weakness within a course. In the learning environment students appreciated when instructors were flexible with due date and allowed additional time to complete assignments or labs in order to understand the material.