Project Blog

Learning from students about
diversity in the experience of
engagement with learning




Introducing the team …

Ways of thinking

For this project, we are taking a neurodiversity approach in which the ways of thinking associated with autism are explored as part of a naturally varying broader population. This means that we’re interested in a range of differences in the ways that students experience and think about their learning as well as the types of learning environment and activity that suit them best.

What does it mean to be an autistic student?

It’s common for students to explore an autism diagnosis whilst at university. This can be as a result of experiencing difficulties and being referred to university support services. Student can also become aware at university that their style of thinking and learning may align with the characteristics of autism without experiencing particular difficulties – by having more flexibility to explore their own preferences and by meeting other autistic students.

Frameworks for connecting neuroscience to education

‘engagement’, RDoC, and barriers to inclusion Based on a presentation to the Cambridge Neuroscience Journal Club in January 2021 What does neuroscience tell us about the experience of autism? There is a wealth of research and findings from the field of autism neuroscience, indicating differences associated with autism in a wide range of aspects ofContinue reading “Frameworks for connecting neuroscience to education”

Why measure ‘engagement’?

This project aims to explore barriers to inclusion for autistic pupils, so why is it ‘engagement’ that’s being measured? Early work on the project explored barriers to inclusion more broadly (Bailey & Baker, 2020). The emerging priority was to address a lack of literature on positive aspects of educational experience – what makes educational provisionContinue reading “Why measure ‘engagement’?”

What did the pilot study find?

TThe Self-Report Measure of Engagement with Learning Activities (MELA-SR) was initially developed and tested over the summer of 2020. We found that this multi-component low-inference, non-judgmental measure of engagement is feasible for use with online survey methods such as Qualtrics. Our new measure is quick, intuitive and sensitive to context and to individual differences. WhatContinue reading “What did the pilot study find?”

Who are the researchers?

Who are the researchers behind this innovative study, taking a different approach to understanding difference? Developing a new measure of engagemnet with learning activities is the aim of the PhD project of Julie Bailey. Julie is a former secondary school teacher and head of sixth form who now supports students at the University of CambridgeContinue reading “Who are the researchers?”


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