Needs Assessment

Yesterday I underwent a needs assessment to establish what, if anything, the Open University can do to make my study experience a little easier.

Needless to say I was a bit apprehensive, despite the fact that my assessors had agreed to a home visit, and despite the fact that I had my Aunt with me for a bit of support.  However, my anxiety was (as usual) unfounded as the two ladies who came to the door were very nice, apologising profusely for the ‘intrusion’.  They had some information about me and my illness, courtesy of a detailed letter from my CPN, so I didn’t have to go into much detail and they offered constant reassurance that I was not under the microscope, that my Disabled Student Allowance (DSA) was specific to me and that everyone had different needs/preferences.

Concentration/motivation and social anxiety being my main obstacles, one result of my assessment was that I will be allocated a mentor.  Someone with whom I will be in regular contact throughout my studies, and who can offer advice and guidance should things become difficult.

It is also to be recommended that I be allowed to sit the end-of-module exams in my own home, with an external invigilator present.  Were I to commit to taking the exam along with my peers, there would be no plan B should I panic and find myself unable to attend on the day.  But to know in advance that I was under no pressure to sit the exam in a crowded hall, with people coughing/clearing their throats, leaving after a couple of hours having seemingly aced the paper and a clock ticking…well, it might alleviate some worry and allow me to prepare more effectively.

That aside, they are going to provide me with a couple of pieces of software to help me make better sense of the course materials, which tend to take the form of huge chunks of text and isn’t always manageable.

All in all, it was a positive experience.  I got more from it than I expected to…but I’m still glad its over and I can get on with the course, safe in the knowledge that I’ve shared my difficulties and that there is help available.


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