Supporting dyslexic Scottish university hospitality students: positive actions for the future?
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Ingram, A., Pianu, E. & Welsh, R. (2007) Supporting dyslexic Scottish university hospitality students: positive actions for the future?, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, vol. 19, , pp. 606-611,
Purpose - The purpose of the paper is to explore the issues of dyslexia and the management of learning support within two Scottish suppliers of premier HE hospitality education: Napier and QMU universities of Edinburgh. Design/methodology/approach - This exploratory, qualitative fieldwork outlines course managers', teachers' and disabilities support staff perceptions of dyslexia support. Students' views are noted, not interviewed. The paper describes the views of 12 of a sample of (eight female and four male) staff interviewees. Napier University and Queen Margaret University are post-1990 new- universities; Napier has a larger student/staff population than QMU. Findings - The emergent findings in this paper highlight the fact that managers, teachers and support staff operate an under-resourced and largely ad hoc system of dyslexic support, although Napier, with greater central funding, shows signs of more strategic insight with the appointment of a full-time dyslexia coordinator with strategic potential. The findings pinpoint the strengths (personal attention) of decentralised support with ambiguity problems and the need for a generic centrally coordinated support system capable of codifying tacit experience into customised support packages for hospitality students. Research limitations/implications - The paper is a small exploratory study of the views and perceptions of dyslexia of course managers', hospitality teachers' and support staff from two of Edinburgh's new universities. Both have decades of internationally respected work in hospitality education and elsewhere in higher education. Practical implications - The fieldwork draws attention to this situation and suggests ways to make concepts of dyslexia and disability more relevant to academic hospitality managers teaching in higher education and to those practising in the field. Originality/value - The paper examines the proposition that, while dyslexia is a condition open to support and improvement, it is for many practitioners a vague concept. What emerges from the interviews is that disability and what to do about it seems to be an attitude of mind, a question of perceptions, frames of references, intangible properties: that the essence of enhanced dyslexic support is how to do things better. Napier and QMU give valuable ad hoc examples here on which to design future practice. What is needed is a systematic approach to design, implementation and sustainability, and an understanding of the tacitly held knowledge that underpins experience-generated systems of knowledge. Bringing out such tacit and explicit notions of the complexity of perceptions of knowledge lies in future studies.