Examining intellectual prowess, not social difference: Removing barriers from the doctoral viva for autistic candidates

Journal article


Chown, N, Beardon, L, Martin, N and Ellis, S (2016). Examining intellectual prowess, not social difference: Removing barriers from the doctoral viva for autistic candidates. Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education. 6 (1), pp. 22-38.
AuthorsChown, N, Beardon, L, Martin, N and Ellis, S
Abstract

The doctoral viva voce (‘viva’) has been variously described in the literature as mysterious, unpredictable and potentially frightening for students. Here we present a set of reasonable adjustments designed to remove social barriers from existing viva process for the benefit of autistic doctoral viva candidates. Our objective is to ensure that autistic students, who experience atypical differences in social interaction, social communication, and social imagination, are examined on academic prowess, not social differences. Recommendations are based on our many years of work with autistic adults in higher education and elsewhere and relevant literature. It is our view that these proposals could also benefit non-autistic doctoral candidates. Key proposals are to allow candidates the choice of a ‘virtual viva’ via electronic mail; to prepare a ‘needs assessment’ pre viva; and to ensure that relevant university personnel understand autism sufficiently to appreciate issues specific to the individual and their viva. Academic rigour and integrity would not be compromised but the playing field might be flattened.

Year2016
JournalJournal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education
Journal citation6 (1), pp. 22-38
PublisherLondon South Bank University
Publication dates
Print03 Apr 2016
Publication process dates
Deposited27 Jan 2017
Accepted31 Mar 2016
Publisher's version
License
CC BY 4.0
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https://openresearch.lsbu.ac.uk/item/87495

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