Mathematics, Statistics and Operational Research and Dyspraxia
Challenges - this link takes you to more specific challenges associated with learning.
MSOR and Students with Dyspraxia
Dyspraxia is a specific learning difficulty that affects the brain's ability to plan sequences of movement. It is thought to be connected to the way that the brain develops, and can affect the planning of what to do and how to do it. It is often associated with problems of perception, language and thought. The effects that dyspraxia has on a person's ability to function in a day-to-day environment, as well as in a learning environment can vary, depending on the degree of difficulty.
It is possible that dyspraxic students will experience difficulties with memory and attention span and be easily distracted in the learning environment. They may also experience some difficulties similar to characteristics of dyslexia or dyscalculia such as a tendency to reverse or mistype numbers, signs or decimal points, frequent and apparently careless mistakes, particular difficulty with geometry - both drawing and using equipment such as a compass or protractor and difficulty with spatial awareness e.g. drawing shapes, graphs, tables, etc. In such instances it may be relevant to adopt some of the good practice for dyslexic students i.e. sensitive marking, extra time for written assignments, one-to-one specialist support, etc.
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Teaching strategies associated with Dyspraxia
These strategies are suggestions for inclusive teaching. This list should not be considered exhaustive and it is important to remember that all students are individuals and good practice for one student may not necessarily be good practice for another. You may also like to contact the Disability Specialist in your institution for further information. If you have any good practice that you would like to add to this list, please email your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Provide sufficient time to discuss needs with the student before/during their initial teaching session.
General support for students might include an assessment of individual need, advice on suitable courses, and an institutional policy on assisting students with dyspraxia, grants to help with purchase of equipment and support where necessary, informing tutors and setting up support groups. In addition there are a number of more specific assistance that may help students with dyspraxia, although it should be remembered that each individual has different needs and students will therefore need to be consulted over what best suits their needs.
- Give clear handouts on the subject.
- Write new terms on the blackboard or overhead.
- Let students use recorders or assistants for note-taking.
- Repeat and summarise the main points of the lecture.
- Understand that students may be easily distracted.
- Videoing lectures can be very helpful.
- Multi-sensory materials are important.
- Help students to prioritise books on reading lists.
- Break work down into segments or chunks.
In Seminars and Tutorials
- Give students more time to frame and answer questions.
- Be aware that students may be easily distracted by noise and movement.
- Allow students to take regular breaks if necessary.
- Encourage attendance at study skills tutorials.
- Encourage students as much as possible, emphasising strengths.
- Encourage other students to give assistance.
- Be patient if students have slow speech, and avoid making assumptions about IQ.
When Writing Essays and Reports
- Provide extra time for course work.
- One to one tuition at least once a week from a specialist support tutor is essential for most dyspraxic students.
- Provide help with planning, organisation, writing and paragraphing.
- Existing essays and reports can be offered as examples to students.
- Provide help with proof-reading.
Organisation and Time-Management
- Teach self-organising strategies.
- Provide written directions and checklists for assignments.
- Visually highlight important information and instructions.
- Make use of daily schedules.
- Provide more time to complete tasks if necessary.
- Structure time and chunk down larger tasks.
- Provide frequent changes of activity.
Exams: Before and During
- Extra help with revision.
- Extra time.
- Using a computer during examinations can be helpful for some students.
- Students may need to use scribes.
- Students may need to take examinations in a separate room to avoid distractions.
Technological Hardware and Software
- Word processors with good spell and grammar checks.
- Large monitors are easier to work with.
- Using larger, ergonomic mice and keyboards is helpful for some students.
- Voice-activated software
- Text-to-speech software
- Planning software
- Predictive software