Need help from students with Dyslexia

DyslexiaDyslexia, I need some help.

As some of you may know, I was recently tested and diagnosed with Dyslexia, I knew I had it when I was a kid but it was probably over 20 years ago I was last tested. I was given a good lot of good advice and equipment, mainly a smart pen, dictation and mind map software. The post about it all can be founf at “Studying at the Open University with Dyslexia“.

Anyway its now been a few months and I have been trained in the software and found out what is useful and not useful for me, so I thought happy days. However, now that im doing level 2 module’s I need to take notes for revision and it’s really getting me down !!! All my level 1’s I did without notes and was able to do them fine and with good results, but knowing that I have exams at the end of S283 I really need notes to revise.

I have currently been making them through chapters 1 to 5 (S283) and, I have found it takes about twice the time to make my notes and dictate them (I will explain that later) than it does to do my 2 read through’s of the chapter. So for what used to take 3-4 hours for a chapter now takes up to 10 or 12 hours (Both times exclude answering the questions). This has really sucked the fun out of it for me :(

This is my process:

  • Read the full chapter
  • Re-read the chapter and highlight important info
  • Do notes on each important info
  • Dictate them (This is so I can play back over MP3 while out walking)

Here is an example pic from one of my note pages for S283

Dyslexia NotesI don’t know if it’s just me ore does everyone feels like this? I feel I learn more from doing my research for TMA questions than doing notes.

So I guess my big question is “How do other students with Dyslexia cope with notes ??” I would love your feedback and suggestions.

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Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, Dyslexia, S283: Planetary science, Study Notes

6 Responses to Need help from students with Dyslexia

  1. I’m dyslexic too. My notes take forever… I have to read things while writing down the main topics, then read through again adding to that. I can’t use bullet points or I end up not understanding them later… I have to colour code everything as that makes it a little easier, and I use a dicto-phone to recod myself reading the notes/chapters and then listen to them over and over…
    However, the OU also send me all the books in pdf form as well as book form which is good as I can change the background colour of them on the computer and so read them more easily. For one module I’ve been sent something called “daisy” which is basically audio versions of the text which I have put onto an MP3 player and listen to while doing day to day activities.
    I also find post-it notes are invaluable :)

    All I can think of right now…

    • Thanks Hazel,

      The Dictaphone is interesting, do you record the whole chapter word for word or just your notes? I have been doing my notes like that but not got around to using them yet while walking.

      I have heard of the Daisy thing but never used it, is it someone reading it or a computer voice? I was given software that converts the PDF’s to audio but listening to it just irritates me with the silly voice.

      Also what courses have you done up to now? Just out of interest.

      • well I’ve done 225 credits worth of physiology at the university of Aberdeen.
        OU wise though I have almost completed 6 science short courses, and I am starting S155 and S104 in the next few weeks.

        Back at uni uni I would use the dictophone to record all lectures, now I record full chapters of subjects that I find hard and notes of those that I just need a refresher of

        The audio notes vary, most of them have been a person reading them though rather than a computerised voice.

  2. Hi Chris, just read your blog. I picked up that the need for notes for revision was one of the things that you were worried about. Your description of your note taking activity strikes me as a similar approach to mine, apart from the recording. (I’m not dyslexic). I completed S282 in October and found when revising that I worked from the text book and my assignments rather than my notes. The act of making notes I found key to engaging with and understanding the topic, but if I’m honest by the time I went back to them to revise they were a bit incomprehensible. So what I’m wonder is whether you need a separate note taking technique and revision technique. If you weren’t so worried about being able to revise from your notes, you might get back some of the fun of the studying.

    • Hi Jenny,

      That’s kind of what I have been thinking, all these notes won’t be used very much. I could read through the book over and over and enjoy it and I enjoy doing the TMA questions, I feel this is really when I learn the material, although I can also see the point of engaging and understanding the material while taking notes.

      The main thing I worry about it choosing the wrong method and messing up the exam revision and the exam.

      Hhhhmmm decisions decisions !!!

  3. Marion Grenfell-Essam

    Do your courses textbooks have Pdf versions?
    My process is:
    1) Read the Learning Outcomes / Summary
    2) Read the Unit
    3) Use the Learning Outcomes to inform my note taking:
    a) print out the glossary pages if provided or create a glossary by scanning through the pdf file for all the words in bold and copying and pasting them into a Word document with a short description generally in the paragraph with the highlighted word
    b) copy and paste into Word paragraphs on listed topics and then edit into bullet points. i.e. a Learning Outcome might be ‘you will be able to describe the waterfall method of programming’ so I make sure I copy and paste the writing about this from the Unit then delete all the unnecessary words

    I very rarely actually type anything in except if the pdf is not cooperating with the copying. I capture diagrams and include them in my notes. Ultimately my notes are a severely edited, bullet point version of the unit. To answer the TMA questions I would use the Unit as reference but for exam revision they allow me to cover all the essential points. Only if I’m having a problem with a specific topic on the practice exams would I go back and re-read the Unit text.

    Using a Word processor is great because colour coding is easy. I can add notes in and move them around easily. Also my handwriting is unintelligible after about 3 sentences. I love bullet points as I find the different levels very helpful for defining the type of information given, i.e. 1st level – definition or main point, 2nd level – divisions of concept, 3rd level – examples, and on the computer they all line up perfectly something I can’t manage when I hand write.

    Hope this is useful.

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