Scaling the mountain: The topography of disability and transition to Higher Education in the Republic of Ireland
Citation:Doyle, A, Scaling the mountain: The topography of disability and transition to Higher Education in the Republic of Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, 2015
ALISON DOYLE PHD MANUSCRIPT Complete.pdf (Pre-print (author's copy) - Non-Peer Reviewed) 4.168Mb
Recent research evidences that students with SEN encounter complex and circuitous transitions from post-primary settings to Higher Education (HE), and that they should be assisted with planning and recording the steps in the transition process, adapting goals and needs as they progress through school. Currently, inequitable access to Individual Education Plans, and a lack of policy infrastructure to provide a formal Transition Plan, means that transition journeys for students with disabilities are varied and uncertain. Using a theoretical framework that incorporates Bronfenbrenner’s Bioecological Systems Theory and Children’s Geographies, the purpose of this research programme is to further establish the web of interactions between students, parents, practitioners, schools and HE institutions, and to identify junctures that function as promoters or inhibitors to successful transitions for young people with disabilities. Moreover, it aims to provide new insights into interest levels and engagement with a suite of web-based transition planning resources, designed and created uniquely for this research programme, and delivered via a third space Community of Practice. A mixed methodology concurrent-triangulated-convergent-transformative design is employed within three studies: Study One investigates the viewpoints of disabled students, parents and practitioners prior to entry to HE; Study Two investigates post-entry reflections of current undergraduate students with disabilities approaching the end of the first year in HE. Data collection for both studies is captured through surveys and interviews. Quantitative data analysis from surveys is complemented by a deductive thematic analysis of open-ended questions and interviews, both of which are merged within the analysis and interpretation of results. A third study measures visitor engagement with the transition website, usage of a modularized transition planning tool, engagement with a transition blog / discussion forum, and participation in transition planning workshops for students with disabilities and their parents. Data from this study is analysed using a Web 2.0 enterprise class analytics system. Results confirm findings identified in current literatures evidence: (a) disparate levels and quality of support and guidance for students and parents at post-primary level and from HE, (b) a mismatch between academic and personal skills required for post-primary and HE, (c) inequities within the Disability Access Route to Education, and (d) fissures in communication channels between parents, schools and HE institutions. Findings also contribute new knowledge about the efficacy of web-based transition-specific resources for post-primary students with disabilities in Ireland, which were accessed on a global scale and in significant numbers. Empirical and practical implications point to: (a) an urgent need for development of self-awareness, self-determination and self-advocacy skills through a person-centred transition planning tool; this should be made available from the junior cycle of education onwards, (b) CPD and training opportunities to increase awareness and understanding of disability in schools and amongst practitioners, and (c) increased efforts from HE institutions to engage students, parents, practitioners and post-primary schools via structured pre-entry activities. Recommendations include development of a national repository of transition planning resources, further development and piloting of the transition planning tool, and the creation of student-to-student recruitment strategies that will provide positive role models for students with disabilities.
Author: DOYLE, ALISON
Publisher:Trinity College Dublin
Type of material:Thesis
Availability:Full text available