ERG SES G 02, Special Education
This paper will present the findings of a doctoral study which is addressing an under-researched topic in the adult education sector. Specifically, the aim of the study is to investigate the guidance counselling needs of adults with dyslexia within the Adult Educational Guidance Service (AEGS) in Ireland, from a social justice perspective. Although located in Ireland, this study can provide important insights externally as it is a topic with limited evidence-based guidelines to support practice.
The conceptual framework guiding this research study can be described as a ‘bricolage’ of three key theoretical assumptions (Kincheloe 2001). Firstly, the research paradigm of this study is pragmatism, which is concerned with practical problems and human experience as opposed to overly theorised and abstract problems (Morgan 2014). Whilst pragmatism can be described as a broad philosophy, the pragmatic paradigm chosen here emphasises the critical elements of Dewey’s pragmatism, as well as cultural and historical contexts (Midtgarden 2012; Kadlec 2006). Secondly, the conceptual framework incorporates a critical and pluralistic social justice perspective, encompassing key concepts such as equity, redistribution and recognition (Fraser and Honneth 2003; Irving 2013; Prilleltensky and Stead 2012). In relation to guidance counselling, this perspective suggests that guidance interventions require a broadened focus, from individual clients to contexts where injustice is rooted (Blustein et al. 2005). Thirdly, an interactionist model of disabilities is outlined in the conceptual framework, where factors impacting on the wellbeing of dyslexic learners are understood to include biological/cognitive, psychological and social factors (WHO 2011).
Research suggests that individuals with disabilities such as dyslexia consistently face disproportionate challenges and barriers in accessing education and work compared to non-disabled individuals (Gannon and Nolan 2006; Pollak 2005). Meanwhile, guidance counselling is described as a tool for the implementation of public policy goals of learning, labour market and social equity (Council of the European Union 2008; ELGPN 2012; OECD 2004). However, education and employment policy discourses are generally framed by meritocracy and neoliberalism which emphasise labour market needs and individual responsibility, with an emergent focus on responsibilisation, flexicurity and career management skills (CMS) without due respect to contextual factors (Sultana 2012). Similarly, dyslexia research and practice are generally concerned with the cognitive difficulties of dyslexic individuals. In contrast, it has been argued that the psychological and social struggles can be more significant than the technical realities of dyslexia due to the attached stigma, the lack of genuine inclusive environments and limited provision of accommodations to ‘level the playing field’ (Burden 2010; Hughes et al. 2009; Irving 2013; NALA 2010). In light of this, the key research questions underpinning this study are as follows:
- What are the guidance counselling needs of adults with dyslexia?
- What are the experiences of guidance counsellors in relation to providing guidance counselling to adult clients with dyslexia?
- What barriers and enablers influence personal/social, educational and career progression of dyslexic adults?
Arthur, N. (2014) ‘Social justice and career guidance in the Age of Talent’, International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance, 14(1), pp. 47-60. Bazeley, P. (2012). Integrative analysis strategies for mixed data sources. American. Behavioral Scientist, 56(6), 814-828. Blustein, D. L., McWhirter, E. H., and Perry, J. C. (2005) ‘An Emancipatory Communitarian Approach to Vocational Development Theory, Research, and Practice’, The Counseling Psychologist, 33, 215-224. Braun, V. and Clarke, V. (2006) ‘Using thematic analysis in psychology’, Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77-101. Council of the European Union (2008) Council Resolution on Better Integrating Lifelong Guidance into Lifelong Learning Strategies, available: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/en/educ/104236.pdf European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network (2012) ‘Lifelong Guidance Policy Development: A European Resource Kit’, available: http://ktl.jyu.fi/ktl/elgpn Fraser, N. and Honneth, A. (2003) Redistribution or Recognition? A Political-philosophical Exchange, London: Verso Gannon, B. and Nolan, B. (2006) The Dynamics of Disability and Social Inclusion, Dublin: The Equality Authority. Hearne, L. (2011) 'A social justice perspective to the measurement of individual progression in lifelong guidance', Constructing the Future; Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice, 6th edn., Institute of Career Guidance, UK. Irving, B. A. (2010). (Re)constructing Career Education as a Socially Just Practice: An Antipodean Reflection. International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance, 10, 49-63. Irving, B. A. (2013) ‘Access, opportunity, and career: supporting the aspirations of dis/abled students with high-end needs in New Zealand’, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 17(10), 1040-1052. Kadlec A. (2006) ‘Reconstructing Dewey: The philosophy of critical pragmatism’, Polity, 38(4): 519–542. Midtgarden, J. (2012) ‘Critical Pragmatism: Dewey’s Social Philosophy Revisited’, European Journal of Social Theory, 15(4), pp.505–521. Morgan D. L. (2014) ‘Pragmatism as a Paradigm for Social Research’, Qualitative Inquiry, 20(8), 1045-1053. OECD (2004) Career Guidance and Public Policy: Bridging the Gap, available: www.oecd.org Pollak, D. (2005) Dyslexia, the Self and Higher Education: Learning Life Histories of Students, Chester: Bemrose Press Ltd. Prilleltensky, I., and Stead, G. B. (2012) ‘Critical psychology and career development: Unpacking the adjust–challenge dilemma’, 39(4), 321-340. Small, M.L. (2011) 'How to conduct a mixed methods study: Recent trends in a rapidly growing literature', Annual Review Of Sociology, 37, pp. 57-86 Sultana, R. G. (2012) Flexicurity: Implications for Lifelong Career Guidance, ELGPN, available: http://www.elgpn.eu/publications/browse-by-language/english/Sultana_Flexicurity_concept_note_web.pdf/ World Health Organization (2011) [online] ‘World Report on Disability’, available: http://www.who.int/
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