I first realised my interest in dyscalculia when I chose to study it as part of my PgDip in Teaching and Assessing Students with SpLDs. I was hooked from the start. As my research progressed, I experienced mounting frustration at the lack of research and resources for those with dyscalculia in post-compulsory education, so I developed an action research project into dyscalculia and maths anxiety in students in FE functional skills classes. This then lead on to further case-study style research with students with diagnosed or suspected dyscalculia in 1:1 settings. This paved the way for the development of The Dyscovery Program, a project that I worked on for three years before finally making it into a book.
Further frustration arose when I started to work as a specialist tutor in HE; so many diagnostic reports either diagnosed dyscalculia on an unfounded basis or ignored indicators of dyscalculia in students altogether. This is understandable: the definition of dyscalculia is still widely debated and research on the condition remains decades behind that of dyslexia.
After using DyscalculiUM (Claire Trott at the University of Loughborough) – the only screener specifically designed for older learners – I decided I should set my sights on developing a fully comprehensive diagnostic tool for dyscalculia. I, initially, set about this as a proposal for a PhD project. Unfortunately, I could find absolutely nobody who felt qualified to supervise this project. This is further evidence that dyscalculia is drastically under-studied. Having a rather determined nature (some may call me stubborn), I decided to ‘go it alone’. I am now in the development stage of a pilot online assessment.
I am over the moon to find that others acknowledge the importance of this research and development into dyscalculia and its assessment. I would like to thank everyone who voted; I am delighted to accept the ADSHE award for Research and Innovation in 2018.
What others say
There is wide research into learning strategies for Dyslexia but there is less work on dyscalculia and maths anxiety. Eleanor has dedicated her career to developing such resources and has disseminated her work at conferences, articles and in her book, The Dyscovery Approach. She has created evidence-based group and 1-2- 1 sessions which adhere to the ADSHE 7 Principles, and aim to improve number sense. The sessions cover key number issues, are cumulative and adapted to suit students’ needs. She has researched maths anxiety, contributing to our understanding of its causes and how it can be overcome. As a result, the University of Sheffield now offer training in maths anxiety to both staff and students. Eleanor is continuing her research and is now working on screeners and assessment materials for Dyscaculia.