A Comparison Of The Lived Experiences Of Male And Female Autistic Students Transitioning Into And Throughout University

Researcher: Darryl Taphouse

Institution: University of Surrey

Research Year: 2020

Project aims:

Autistic students are at heightened risk of not succeeding at university. Whilst there is emerging research on student transition into and out of university, there is little report of transition between the academic years. Women are typically diagnosed with autism at an older age than men, and demonstrate more camouflaging behaviours than men. To date no transition research has considered gender differences. The aim of this study is to explore the lived experiences of male and female autistic students transitioning into and throughout university. Autistic university students from all year groups will be invited to participate, and crucially, innovative and accessible opportunities to participate will be provided. The Academic Skills and Development service will work in collaboration with the Disability and Neurodiversity team to adopt a phenomenological approach to explore the following:

• Are there gender differences in the experiences of autistic students transitioning into and throughout university?
• What are the implications for learning developers’ engagement with autistic students?
• What are the implications for embedding inclusive learning and teaching practices in curriculum design and delivery?

The study will collect data longitudinally at three points in the academic year via online questionnaires, and semi-structured interviews conducted through an online chat forum. The results will help inform learning developers who work with autistic students and inform embedded inclusive teaching and learning practice and pedagogy within curriculum design and delivery. The study’s findings will be shared and evaluated with the Higher Education sector and Autistic charities via publication, conference presentations, and staff development workshops.

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