Making the nursing curriculum more inclusive for students with specific learning difficulties (SpLD): embedding specialist study skills into a core module

Nurse Educ Today. 2013 Jun;33(6):602-7. doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2012.07.009. Epub 2012 Aug 3.


Background: Wray et al. (2012) found that providing specialist 'add on' study skills sessions to students with SpLD increased the likelihood of progression and earlier identification. However, 48% of students identified as 'at risk' of having a SpLD did not pursue further assessment/support, which is of concern. OBJECTIVES/DESIGN/PARTICIPANTS/SETTINGS: The study aimed to explore the impact of embedding nine study skills sessions designed for students with SpLD into the mainstream curriculum on pre-registration nursing students in one HEI in the north of England. Two cohorts (September 2009 (n=257) and February 2010 (n=127)) took part; a total of 300 students completed a student feedback questionnaire (201 from September 2009, 99 from February 2010 (response rates of 87% and 80%)). The study used an outcome evaluation approach (Watson et al., 2008) to explore the impact of the sessions using a range of measures: (i) a student feedback questionnaire, (ii) length of time from registration to first contact with Disability Services, and (iii) progression data.

Results: Overall, the sessions were received very positively, especially those on essay writing, reflection and learning techniques. Students in the study cohorts made contact with Disability Services 4-6 weeks earlier than other cohorts; referrals were also higher. Equally, students with SpLD with access to study skills had higher rates of progression (e.g. 87% in 2009) than in years with no sessions (e.g. 62% in 2008); progression rates were comparable to their non-disabled peers.

Conclusions: Mainstreaming what had previously been a reasonable adjustment made time- and resource-savings for the institution. Such approaches to embedding are important in encouraging and retaining talented and able students.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Nursing, Baccalaureate / methods*
  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Learning Disabilities / prevention & control*
  • Mainstreaming, Education / methods*
  • Male
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Students, Nursing / statistics & numerical data*
  • Writing
  • Young Adult