Narratives of capability formation for students with learning disabilities at a South African university
Students with learning disabilities who undertake academic tasks without support have a high risk of failing and dropping out of university. Universities, internationally and in South Africa aim to create equal opportunities for students with disabilities by offerring disability support. The common disability support available to students with learning disabilities is adjusted assessment conditions which are generally recognised to be instrumental in promoting academic performance since learning disabilities can affect the ability of a student to successfully complete his or her studies. These adjusted assessment conditions have proved to have a positive effect on students’ academic trajectories as students progress well in their studies because the adjusted environment enables them to demonstrate their abilities fully. The Social Model of Disability that emphasises the removal of barriers to students’ university engagements informs university responses to disabilities. This study argues that even though these adjustments to assessments enable students to articulate assessments well or expand students’ capabilities, they pathologise students with learning disabilities. They sustain students’ condition of disability where students’ academic success can depend on special arrangements. Besides, understanding disability services as support for students to perform well academically can perpetuate inflexible university systems and forces students with disabilities to conform and contend with normalised learning and assessment systems and conditions that disadvantage them. The study further argues that framing disability response actions within the Social Model of Disability constitutes an overly narrow approach if these actions only serve the purpose of enabling students with learning disabilities to succeed academically through good grades. Adjusted assessment conditions that the Social Model recognises, also do not prepare students to function well in a system with no adjustments. The Capability Approach that I use to complement the Social Model of Disability regards each student as a subject of justice and encourages practical opportunities (capabilities) that contribute to students’ wellbeing (that is not limited to academic performance). Learning arrangements from a Capability Approach perspective would encourage the transformation of the education system to be inclusive for all and discourage separate adjusted conditions for students with learning disabilities. The Capability Approach encourages a university to expand students’ capability sets or to avail a range of opportunities to function well towards the achievement of what they have reason to value in and through university education. This study therefore explores ways in which a university can contribute to the formation of students’ capabilities, drawing from the narratives of fifteen students with learning disabilities at the University of the Free State. Students’ narratives are complemented by semi-structured interviews conducted with five support staff, eight lecturers, and the review of ten university policy documents aligned to disabilities and teaching and learning. Nine capabilities were deductively identified from students’ narratives. Five of these (capability to display full potential, capability for confidence, capability to aspire, capability for care, imagination and empathy, and capability for emotional integrity) are associated with disability services and four (capability for professional and self-knowledge, capability for economic opportunities, capability for resilience and capability for affiliation) with experiencing university in general. The capabilities illustrate how university arrangements affect the academic engagements of students with learning disabilities. The study concludes that even though the adjusted assessment conditions pathologise students with learning disabilities, they simultaneously enhance students’ capabilities.
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Van Wyk, Hanmarie (University of the Free State, 1999-12)English: Each school has a significant percentage of learners with learning disabilities who receive Remedial Education in addition to their classroom teaching. There are numerous approaches to the treatment of learning ...
An assessment framework for adult learners with learning disabilities in post-school education and training Moodley, Susheila (University of the Free State, 2018-06)This study was conducted with a focus on the two broad areas of interest that I have as a practitioner in the field of adult education and training, i.e. assessment practices in PSET institutions and the effect of these ...
'n Ondersoek na die waarde van 'n pre-remediële motoriese ontwikkelingsprogram vir kinders met perseptuele probleme De Villiers, Hendrika Catharina (University of the Free State, 1974-01)Abstract not available