Understanding the Reality of the Work Undertaken by the Disability Officer in relation to Student Support in a Third Level Educational Institution in Ireland

Rohan, Patricia (2008) Understanding the Reality of the Work Undertaken by the Disability Officer in relation to Student Support in a Third Level Educational Institution in Ireland. Masters thesis, Waterford Institute of Technology.

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Abstract The aim of this study is to reach an understanding of the reality of the work undertaken by the disability officer in relation to student support in a third level education institution in Ireland. To achieve the purpose the objectives set out were: to examine the ‘everyday’ work of a disability officer, describe the ‘visible’ and ‘invisible’ processes of the everyday, include the student voice and the disability officer voice and use a reflective practice approach to serve as a method of inquiry that allows for a way of finding out about self as well as the research topic. Use of accessible language in the ethnography was a priority. The choice of reflexive ethnography as methodology was primarily influenced by the ethical requirement that no burden of time or energy be placed on the cohort under study – students with disabilities. The reflexive element in the ethnography allows that the ‘turning back on oneself’ is the means by which the author is visible throughout the ethnography. In this study the ‘field’ (an ethnographic term for the study setting) is a third level educational institution. The ‘fieldnotes’ are a written account of what happened in the field during the time of the collection of data. Through working with fieldnotes created by students and input on behalf of students by the ethnographer, the student voice is heard. From these fieldnotes an extracted statement made by a student during the data collection phase of the study is the focus of the analysis. Agar’s (1985) protocol is used in undertaking the analysis. Interpretation of the analysis is underpinned by the use of Goleman’s work (1996, 1999, and 2006) in the area of emotional intelligence. Findings of the study are; that listening can be understood as caring and that in the unique setting of the research there is a student need to perceive the disability officer role as a caring role. The role of the disability officer is considered to have emerged only recently. It has not been the subject of much discussion in the literature to date. The issue of whether the disability officer role is a professional one is examined, resulting in the acceptance that for now it is most likely a semi-professional role. The required undertakings to professionalise the role are currently being addressed by disability officers in Ireland. The substantive issue and contribution of the research is the uncovering of an affective element to the disability officer’s everyday work and the acknowledgement that it is, for the main part, invisible work. The affective element centres on active listening and through such listening the disability officer’s role as a caring one has been demonstrated.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Student support
Departments or Groups: *NONE OF THESE*
Divisions: *NONE OF THESE*
Depositing User: e- Thesis
Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2008 14:36
Last Modified: 22 Aug 2016 10:25
URI: https://repository.wit.ie/id/eprint/1054

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