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Title: Cognitive immobilisation in dyslexic higher education students : exploring possible triggers, links with aspects of memory and fluctuating emotional status, informing effective coping strategies
Author: Harris-Lock, Ann
ISNI:       0000 0004 8501 550X
Awarding Body: University of Lincoln
Current Institution: University of Lincoln
Date of Award: 2019
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The purpose of this small-scale, mixed methods study was to explore the temporary 'freezing up' of cognitive processing capacity experienced by dyslexic HE students in one UK University. The term, cognitive immobilisation (CI), is used in this work to define this phenomenon which occurs when dyslexic HE students have become so stressed in relation to their studies that they temporarily lose their ability to process and respond to incoming stimuli, reducing them to a mental state where they are briefly unable to think, act or even speak. The main aims of the inquiry were firstly, to discover the extent of the occurrence and possible triggers of CI in dyslexic HE students; secondly, to explore the relationship between this occurrence, individual variations in processing capacity relating to working memory/long term memory interactions and ipsative measurements of fluctuating emotional status; and thirdly, to investigate the efficacy of possible coping strategies, including those which have been employed successfully to manage similar phenomena in disciplines outside education. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected from an initial online survey of dyslexic HE students (n=40); semi-structured interviews with Specialist Dyslexia Support Tutors (n=6) and assessments with 13 participants who took part in a yearlong study. Over the course of the study regular semi-structured interviews/monitoring meetings and diarised accounts of incidences of CI and self-reported assessments of emotional status took place with the students. Initial assessments were carried out with the participants using all nine indexes of TOMAL-2 to discover detailed profiles of their memory systems. The participants were assessed with The Self Image Profile for Adults (SIP Adult); The Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and The Beck Hopelessness Scale (BHS) in order to provide baseline measurements of self-esteem/self-image; level of anxiety and level of hopelessness respectively. Participants were then required to self-report using these assessment tools during the latter two academic terms and record incidences of CI. Analysis of the findings suggested dyslexic HE students are likely to experience CI more frequently than their non-dyslexic peers. Findings suggested that the participants who reported the highest frequencies of CI also had predominantly below average/well below average scores for all nine of the TOMAL-2 indexes and were more likely to miss assignment submissions than those participants who took study breaks or did not complete their course. However, study breaks/non-completion of courses was associated with levels of hopelessness which increased above co-occurring levels of anxiety, suggesting further research in this area may be advantageous. It was generally observed that fluctuations in self-image were mirrored by those of self-esteem.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available