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Educational Research for Social Change

On-line version ISSN 2221-4070

Abstract

BAURHOO, Neerusha. An autoethnographic exploration of disability discourses: transforming science education and research for students with learning disabilities. Educ. res. soc. change [online]. 2017, vol.6, n.2, pp.115-132. ISSN 2221-4070.  http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2221-4070/2017/v6i2a8.

In this autoethnographic inquiry, I examine the dominant disability discourses that inform practice and research in science education for individuals with disabilities. Guided by my experience as a practitioner-researcher, I use reflexive vignettes and photo elicitation to discuss and critique disability discourses (e.g., the medical and social models of disability) that construct students with learning disabilities (LD) as disadvantaged learners. For example, the medical model of disability pathologises students with LD by focusing on their individual deficits and blaming them for their academic struggles and failures in science. In contrast, the social model of disability locates the problem solely within the students' environment (e.g., teaching strategies) and does not consider within-individual issues (e.g., cognitive deficits). By navigating through these discourses, I found my voice as a practitioner-researcher in Bronfenbrenner's (2005) ecological model, which recognises that individuals' barriers stem from their characteristics as well as their complex, multilayered environment. This article, embedded within a reflexive process, illuminates my journey of self-transformation as a practitioner-researcher while transforming and bringing educational changes to the academic lives of my students with LD.

Keywords : transformative doctoral journey; medical model of disability; social model of disability; Bronfenbrenner's ecological framework; science education; learning disabilities.

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