The impact of genre on the writing facility of HE students with and without dyslexia

Kate Butler

University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Lampeter Campus, Ceredigion, SA48 7ED;

24th March 2016


 This paper explores the writing experiences of a small group of female HE humanities students, with and without diagnosed dyslexia, enrolled on degree programmes that include a wide variety of writing tasks, including poems, plays, prose, book reviews and critical essay writing. Qualitative data was collected via semi-structured interviews and reflective diaries, and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. The analysis indicated that the major concern of the dyslexic students was managing the organisation and structure of critical essay writing, associated with strong expressions of anxiety, but none of the students reported significant problems structuring their creative pieces. All the students found it extremely difficult to work on creative writing and critical writing assignments concurrently. These findings foreground the tensions between three key approaches to writing and dyslexia pedagogy: the transferable study skills model, the academic socialisation model and the academic literacies approach. Discipline and genre significantly affected the writing experiences of these students but further interdisciplinary research is required. The paper concludes that specialist writing support for dyslexic students is best provided within the disciplinary context of the writing tasks. This has implications for how literacy support is delivered within HE.