This week we embarked on the first week of our projects with a key focus on collecting secondary data to inform our research questions. To do this we have each created a presentation summarising 10 key studies for our topic areas which we plan to present to each other and our supervisors at the beginning of week 2. We have also included a couple of slides at the end to summarise the support/adjustments available to students at the University of Reading. Our research highlighted key issues in current support within Higher Education Institutions (HEI). We also found that much of the research focussed on challenges/barriers to inclusivity at university rather than focussing on helpful forms of support. The numbers of students enrolling at university with these diagnoses/symptoms has increased, increasing the need for more research to improve the support available.
Following our first team meeting with our supervisors we contacted representatives at the Reading University Student’s Union (RUSU) to see if they would be interested in participating in a focus group. The aim of this focus group would be to help us gain more of an insight into feedback they have received from students about the functioning of current support and to inform topics to be discussed during student interviews. Our supervisors have also contacted relevant members of staff within the University, such as Study Advisors, Disability Service Advisors and members of the Welfare Team.
During this week we were grateful to be invited to attend a ‘Planning and conducting interviews and focus groups’ webinar hosted by the Society for Research in Higher Education. This was highly informative, particularly in terms of developing our interview questions and awareness of semi-structured interviews. To consolidate our knowledge we discussed how we would go about dealing with example situations which may arise. The opportunity to discuss scenarios in smaller groups enabled us to gain insight into other peoples experiences of conducting interviews.
Post written by: Bryony, Charis and Michelle