Compensating for Reading Difficulties: A Qualitative Investigation of University Students’ Experiences of Influential Personal Characteristics

Julie K. Corkett, Serge F. Hein, Rauno Parrila


This study involved a qualitative examination of the personal characteristics that university students saw as important in helping them to compensate for their reading difficulties at various stages of their education. The sample consisted of 10 undergraduate students or recent graduates who reported a significant history of reading difficulties. Data were collected using in-depth, open-ended interviews with each participant. These data were then analyzed using a form of whole text analysis and resulted in four major themes: seeking assistance from others, developing positive relationships with others, being highly motivated to achieve, and maintaining a belief in one’s abilities. The findings highlight the broad range of factors that can influence motivation and self-concept and the wide variety of people who can be involved in providing assistance to individuals with reading difficulties. The implications of the findings for educational practice and for further research are discussed.

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