Dyslexic students of art get test help

November 24, 2000

The Royal College of Art has brought in language consultants to look at the needs of its dyslexic students.

Alan Cummings, the college's new pro-rector, said that some 10 per cent of RCA students have dyslexia compared with 4 per cent in the population at large. He sees the consultants' project as key to finding new ways to assess students' work.

Although students are admitted on the strength of their art and design ability, most programmes involve cross-disciplinary courses that are assessed by dissertations and written examinations. These have caused difficulties for some students.

Dyslexia has long been associated with artistic ability, but Joe Kerr, senior tutor in critical and historical studies, believes the RCA's high incidence of dyslexic students also points out a failure in the education system.

He said: "Children are misdiagnosed at school and so pushed into art. Dyslexia is a burning issue for higher education. Students have difficulty in organising ideas into linear arguments, which makes it difficult for teachers to test them."

The college is also looking into the problems faced by students for whom English is not their first language but who are, said Cummings, "fluent with their hands and eyes".

Research is being carried out and an initial report is expected by Christmas.

Research from 1996 at Central St Martin's College of Art and Design found many students' spelling and writing skills were not commensurate with their other abilities and that three-quarters had some form of problems related to dyslexia.

  • The Royal College of Art has received a Queen's Anniversary Prize for its postgraduate training, education and research in the conservation of art, craft and design.

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