Fifteen Eighty Four

Academic perspectives from Cambridge University Press


Cognitive and Emotional Study Strategies for Students with Dyslexia in Higher Education

Amanda T. Abbott-Jones

I am passionate about providing students who may struggle with their studies cognitive and motivational guidance by advising on suitable study skills strategies that are: practical, appropriate for how the individual learner processes information, and effective for helping the student overcome barriers connected to the University environment. My working experience as a specific learning difficulties tutor, teamed with my knowledge of what it is like to be a person with dyslexia and my extensive research into understanding the emotional difficulties of neuro diverse students has resulted in my most recent book Cognitive and Emotional Study Strategies for Students with Dyslexia in Higher Education.

Arrangement of chapters draws on the order of tasks students generally encounter during a typical academic year. Earlier chapters, Organisation Techniques and Meeting Deadlines; Note-Taking Strategies and Reading Strategies help to develop skills that are a necessary requisite for progression on any university course. The final chapter, Emotional Coping Techniques and Looking After Your Wellbeing, is positioned at the end of the book, as a resource for learners to dip into whenever they are feeling unmotivated, anxious, or stressed, and as a way of signifying the importance of this aspect of learning as underpinning all the previous chapters.

The study methods delivered, are not from an educational perspective, but are from voices of students with dyslexia who have first-hand experience of fine-tuning techniques to become successful in the academic world. Many of these students, now high achieving graduates with rewarding careers, are still devising their own innovative strategies to overcome future barriers in their working lives. These inspirational learners’ viewpoints and approaches they find productive are presented by using clear explanations of the steps involved in applying the techniques which is teamed with links to interactive activities so that the reader can try and test out the processes. 

Without this wealth of empirical knowledge from the source of dyslexia, the dyslexic people themselves, who throughout the book have provided readers with advice on how to overcome cognitive and emotional difficulties by using appropriate study strategies for the ways in which students with dyslexia productively learn, the book could not have been written. Furthermore, as a divergence from other study skills strategies books targeted at students with dyslexia, and as an extension of my earlier (2022) book Dyslexia in Higher Education: Anxiety and Coping Skills, the book has integrated strategies for cognitive support with techniques for emotional support.

The book acknowledges the importance of helping students with learning difficulties to focus on developing methods to deal with harmful emotion and maintain wellbeing. For example, whilst cognitive strategies presented, do help to alleviate negative emotion, such as anxiety, particularly by developing skills in organisation, preparation, and rehearsal, dyslexic learners need additional methods to supplement these techniques. As such, the final chapter presents a range of productive coping methods including participating in exercise and using mental resilience such as persistence and determination. Specific examples are provided from voices of dyslexic students and readers are invited in to think about these approaches.  

The techniques presented help readers to develop their own metacognitive awareness (knowing what works best for how you think and learn). For example, In the Making Learning Memorable chapter, students learn how to use Q Notes to become more engaged during lectures. In the Essay Writing Strategies chapter, readers discover how to structure ideas more effectively during the writing process.

Students often tell me they are more interested in learning strategies that other dyslexic students apply to succeed in their studies than they are reading study skills books written by education professionals that have knowledge of dyslexia from an observed rather than lived experience. As such, there has been a need for a strategy book fulfilling that appeal for the student and current gap in published literature by providing the dyslexic student, who ultimately the book is for, with a collective shared identity from people who live their day-to-day lives with dyslexia and are succeeding or have succeeded academically.

About The Author

Amanda T. Abbott-Jones

Amanda Abbott-Jones received her doctorate in education, focusing on dyslexia and anxiety, from University College London, UK. She has worked as a dyslexia support tutor for seven ...

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