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Students Admitted to University who fail: Hidden Disabilities Affecting Students’ Performance

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Objective: To compare grade point averages and social adjustment and academic difficulties of students with or without a hidden disability at The University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica.

Methods: Comparison groups were identified through the University of the West Indies (UWI) Health Centre, peer-counselling training programme and an undergraduate class. The 165 participants completed a checklist on health, social and academic concerns and provided a copy of their transcripts. students were screened for hidden disabilities including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and psychiatric morbidity.

Results: Students with hidden disabilities consistently performed poorer academically than their nondisabled peers, and students with ADHD performed the worst. The high levels of distress common to students with a hidden disability may explain the difference in performance between them and nondisabled students. Students’ability to manage their time, irrespective of having a disability, was singled out as important for obtaining good grades.

Conclusions: Potentially brilliant students are at risk of failing out of university because of hidden
disabilities and the associated emotional and social challenges.

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e-Published: 17 Sep, 2013
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