Lecturer wins award to boost confidence of students with learning disabilities

GCU Psychology lecturer Dr Chris Hand has been awarded a Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher to carry out research on an app designed to support students with learning disabilities.

He will work in partnership with Estendio on an evaluation of their PresentPal app, which helps students prepare and deliver presentations, and builds their confidence online.

Dr Hand said: “I have previously been involved in projects looking at technology and presentation assessments using recorded video and getting students to record themselves to help build their confidence.

“This new research is looking at how effective the PresentPal app is and the history of the app is specifically around students with learning disabilities. Where my interest came about was thinking about how assessment presentations and job interviews have drastically changed from face-to-face to the online environment.

“We need know a lot more about how these students feel supported, if their needs have changed and if we have got a way to even the playing field and reduce attainment gaps, build confidence and reduce anxiety and if this is an effective tool to do it or not.”

Dr Hand has been awarded £5,000 from the SFC and Estendio is contributing in kind with licenses for the research to be carried out. The study will begin early in 2021 through to the spring.

He added: “The way the research project is going to work is that students will have access to this app to see what it does. I will have typical and learning disability students using the app because I want to show that it works for everyone but it really, really works for those with disabilities.

“We need to figure out whether or not this is an effective tool to reduce presentation anxiety and increase performance in students with learning disabilities.”

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