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Research Briefing

Research Summary

Intentions Poster

Outcomes Poster

Full Report


Project Website


Phase III Research Network:


Enhancing the Quality and Outcomes of Disabled Students’ Learning in Higher Education (2004 - 2007)

This project has now completed. Major outputs include:

Prof Mary Fuller (University of Gloucestershire)
Prof Mick Healey (University of Gloucestershire)
Prof Alan Hurst (University of Central Lancashire)
Prof Sheila Riddell (Glasgow University)
Ms Terry Wareham (University of Lancaster)

Project Summary

To understand how disabled students' academic performance and experience of teaching, learning and assessment varies by disability, subject studied and by type of institution, how this experience develops during their course and how their learning outcomes compare with those of non-disabled students.

  • Analyse and contrast disabled students’ experiences of barriers and opportunities in teaching, learning and assessment in four selected universities
  • Examine the relationship between the quality of learning of disabled students and the learning environments provided by specific departments in four selected universities
  • Analyse the extent to which disabled students’ learning outcomes differ from non-disabled students’
  • Document and analyse selected teaching staff
  • Understandings of and changes to their teaching, learning and assessment strategies in the light of the legal requirement to make ‘reasonable adjustments’
  • Promote, disseminate and embed the findings from the project effectively to the academic, educational development, learning support and disability communities.

The four year project involves a collaboration between four universities. The project entails a survey of policy and procedures in each university over four years and obtaining statistics on the performance of all disabled students in the universities during the course of their degree programme. The performance of disabled and non-disabled students in particular institutions will be compared, taking account of social class, gender and ethnicity, enabling us to examine any differences between disabled and non-disabled students in terms of class of degree obtained or failure to complete a degree.
Key informants will be interviewed in each university, such as:

  • senior managers with a variety of responsibilities for teaching, learning and assessment and for students, including disabled students.
  • disabled students’ adviser
  • head of student welfare
  • head of the teaching development and learning support service
  • selected heads of academic departments and course leaders

Surveys of both disabled students and of teaching staff at the beginning of the project will provide baseline information about practices and policies for teaching, learning and assessment in each university.


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