Professionally over the last 10 years Qona Rankin has been working with dyslexic and dyspraxic art and design students. Apart from the obvious difficulties with short-term memory, reading, writing and organisation, a significant number of students have complained that despite having been taught drawing over a number of years they find it particularly difficult. Some have said that they feel their professional practice is severely compromised by their perceived inability to ‘draw well’ in front of business associates or clients.
This has resulted in an interesting research collaboration with colleagues at Swansea Metropolitan University, Middlesex University and University College London.
Qona Rankin is the Dyslexia Coordinator at the Royal College of Art, and has been since 2002 when the post was created. She has degrees in Three Dimensional Design from Kingston University and in Design Education from the RCA. Before qualifying in Adult Dyslexia Support (ADS Cert at Southbank University) in 1997, she was a senior lecturer on the Product Design degree course at the University of Hertfordshire and a freelance jewellery designer-maker.Show more
In 2004 Qona became interested in a group of dyslexic and dyspraxic art students who were concerned that their drawing was not ‘good enough’. She made a short film that documented this anecdotal evidence. After showing the film to Christopher Kennard, then head of the Medical School at Imperial College London, she was encouraged to set up a research group with collaborators from other institutions. The group became focused within four centres: UCL, Middlesex, Swansea Met and the RCA. This collaborative group which includes an art school drawing lecturer, a coordinator of dyslexic students and psychologists, shares an interest in probing possible correlations between drawing ability and factors such as mathematical ability, personality traits and dyslexia. It extends research by gathering and analysing data generated through questionnaires and a series of drawing exercises administered to the Foundation Diploma in Art and Design cohort at the Faculty of Art and Design, Swansea Metropolitan University, and the Royal College of Art’s MA cohort. Specifically, this research explores the hypothesis that drawing ability correlates with mathematical ability, with the ultimate objective of developing inclusive strategies for the teaching of drawing.
To date this collaborative group has regularly presented papers at conferences both nationally and internationally and has published 11 of these papers. In addition Qona has independently contributed three chapters about her work at the RCA to recent publications concerning dyslexia.
In 2007 Qona gained her SEDA PDAF, supervising postgraduate research from the University of the Arts. In 2008 she was awarded a Fellowship of the RCA in recognition of her services to dyslexia support. Also in 2008 she set up a charity ‘Creative Mentors Foundation’, partly as a result of the research findings. The aim of this charity is to help make the arts curriculum at state secondary schools more accessible and rewarding for dyslexic and dyspraxic children. The charity trains postgraduates from art disciplines in dyslexia awareness and specialist teaching strategies, preparing them to work alongside mainstream staff teaching in arts subjects. To date six mentors have been through the training and there are currently art and design and music mentors established in both Grey Coat Hospital and St Marylebone School.
Publications, exhibitions and other outcomes
Rankin, Q. (2016) ‘The Power of the Labyrinth: An ‘AcrossRCA’ Inter-disciplinary Project’ in: Jan Sellers and Bernard Moss (eds), Learning with the Labyrinth Creating Reflective Space in Higher Education, London: Palgrave Macmillan, Palgrave Teaching and Learning, Ch. 17Show more
Chamberlain, R., McManus, C., Brunswick, N., Riley, H., and Rankin, Q. (2015) ‘Scratching the Surface: Practice, Personality, Approaches to Learning, and the Acquisition of High-Level Representational Drawing Ability’, Psychology of Aesthetics Creativity and the Arts
Chamberlain, R., McManus, C., Brunswick, N., Riley, H., Kanai, R., and Rankin, Q. (2014) ‘Drawing on the right side of the Brain: A Voxel-based Morphometry analysis of observational Drawing’, NeuroImage, 96, 167–73
Chamberlain, R., McManus, C., Brunswick, N., Riley, H., and Rankin, Q. (2014) ‘Cain’s house task revisited and revived: Extending theory and methodology for quantifying drawing accuracy’, Psychology of Aesthetics Creativity and the Arts, 8 (2), 152
Chamberlain, R., McManus, C., Brunswick, N., Riley, H., and Rankin, Q. (2013) ‘Local processing enhancements associated with superior observational drawing are due to enhanced perceptual functioning, not weak central coherence’, Quarterly journal of experimental psychology, 66(7), 1448–66
Rankin, Q. (2012) 'Difficulties in drawing, music and dance: common areas and the development of The Creative Mentor Foundation', in: S. Daunt (ed.), Music, Other Performing Arts and Dyslexia, The British Dyslexia Association
Rankin, Q. (2012) 'Dyslexia Support at the Royal College of Art: A Symbiotic Relationship', in: N. Brunswick (ed.), Supporting Dyslexic Adults in Higher Education and the Workplace, Oxford: John Wiley
McManus, I.C., Chamberlain, R., Loo, P-W., Rankin, Q. and Brunswick, N. (2010) ‘Art Students Who Cannot Draw: Exploring the Relations between Drawing Ability, Visual Memory, Accuracy of Copying, and Dyslexia’, Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, The Journal of the American Psychology Association, 4 (1), 18–30
Rankin, Q. and Riley, H. (2009) ‘Drawing and Dyslexia: Some Recent Research’, in: N. Brunswick (ed.), The Dyslexia Handbook 2009–10, Bracknell: British Dyslexia Association, 174–80
Rankin, Q. (Spring 2009) ‘Playing Fair’, Engage 23. The International Journal of Visual Art and Gallery Education
Riley, H., and Rankin, Q. (2007) ‘Exploring the Link between Drawing and Dyslexia: Is there a previously unrecognised and unexplored link between dyslexia, visual and spatial sensibility in general and the ability to draw?’, in: Anne Boddington and David Clews (eds), Teachers’ Academy Papers, Brighton: University of Brighton, 100–4. ISBN: 9781905593071
Rankin, Q. (2006/7) ‘Read: A Typeface for Dyslexics’, Radar Magazine, 35 (1), 6–7
Davies, M., Riley, H., and Rankin, Q. (2006) ‘Cognitive Styles and Drawing Practice’, in: Christ Rust (ed.), Improving Student Learning Through Assessment, Oxford: Oxford Centre for Staff & Learning Development. ISBN: 1873576730
Rankin, Q. ‘Some reflections on my teaching and research at the Royal College of Art’, Patoss Bulletin, 20 (1), 78–80
Brunswick, N., Chamberlain, R., McManus, C. and Rankin, Q. (2011) ‘Inclusive Practice: Researching the Relationship between Maths Ability and Drawing Ability in Art Students’, in: Include 2011 Conference Proceedings, London: Royal College of Art
Rankin, Q., Brunswick, N. and McManus, I.C. (2009) ‘Inclusive Practice: Researching the Relationships between Dyslexia, Personality and Art Students’ Drawing Abilities’, in: Include 2009 Conference Book, London: Royal College of Art
Rankin, Q. and Davies, M. (2007) ‘Including Dyslexics: Indicators of Dyslexia in Art Students’ Drawings’, in: J. Myerson and C. Bilsland (eds), Include 2007 Conference Book, London: Royal College of Art
Davies, M. and Rankin, Q. (2006) ‘Cognitive Styles and Drawing Practice’, in: C. Rust (ed.), Proceedings of the 13th International Symposium: Improving Student Learning Through Assessment, Oxford: Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development, 65–80
Rankin, Q. and Davies, M. (2005) ‘The Effects of Dyslexia and Dyspraxia on the Cognitive Modelling Process Within the Context of Art and Design. Part 1: Drawing on Drawing’, in: J. Bound and R. Coleman (eds), Include 2005 Conference Book, London: Royal College of Art
Rankin, Q. (2005) ‘Why Drawing Presents Difficulties for Dyslexics and Dyspraxics’, in: Proceedings of the 10th Conference of ELSIN, University of Surrey
Rankin, Q., Riley, H. (2016) 'Talking the Line: A report on drawing workshops for dyslexic/dyspraxic students at the Royal College of Art, London, October 2015 – January 2016’, The British Dyslexia Association International Conference, Oxford, 10–12th March 2016
Haruhara, N., Uno, A., Rankin, Q., Wydell, T. (2014) ‘Cognitive Abilities and Reading/Writing Attainment in Japanese of Japanese-English Bilinguals with Monolingual Dyslexia in English’, The British Dyslexia Association International Conference, 27–29 March 2014
Rankin, Q., Riley, H., Chamberlain, R., McManus, C., and Brunswick, N. (2014) 'Learning to Perceive: Informing Pedagogic Practice through the Empirical Study of Drawing', December 2014
Rankin, Q. Chamberlain,R., McManus,I.C., Brunswick, N., Riley ,H. (2013) 'Scratching the surface: Attitudes to learning and the acquisition of artistic skill', Thinking Through Drawing 3rd International Conference, Columbia University, New York, USA, 24–26 October 2013
Chamberlain, R., McManus, C., Brunswick, N., Riley, H., and Rankin, Q. ‘Co-variates of Drawing Ability: Personality and Demographic Factors. The Story So Far...’,
Thinking Through Drawing 3rd International Conference, Columbia University, New York, USA, 24–26 October 2013
Rankin, Q., Chamberlain, R., Riley, H., McManus, I.C. (2012) 'Learning to Perceive: Informing pedagogic practice through the empirical study of drawing', Thinking Through Drawing 2012: Drawing in STEAM. An Interdisciplinary Symposium on Drawing, Cognition and Education, 12–14 September 2012
Chamberlain, R., McManus, C., Brunswick, N., Riley, H., and Rankin, Q., ‘The inner scribe: a role for visual short-term memory in observational drawing?’, European Conference on Visual Perception 2012, 2 –6 September 2012, Alghero, Italy
Chamberlain, R., Riley, H., McManus, I.C., Rankin, Q. and Brunswick, N. (2011) ‘The Perceptual Foundations of Drawing Ability’, Thinking Through Drawing: An Interdisciplinary Symposium on Drawing, Cognition and Education, 28–29 October 2011
Chamberlain, R., McManus, C., Brunswick, N., Riley, H., and Rankin, Q., ‘Dyslexic visuospatial ability in the three-dimensional world’, The British Dyslexia Association’s 8th International Conference, Harrogate, UK, 2–4 June 2011
Chamberlain, R., McManus, C., Brunswick, N., Riley, H., and Rankin, Q., '“Imediately, sincerly, choclate”: Findings from a new self-administered spelling test for dyslexia’, The British Dyslexia Association’s 8th International Conference, Harrogate, UK, 2–4 June 2011
Rankin, Q. and Lofting, C. ‘The Impact of Dyslexia in the Studio’, CLTAD 2nd International Conference, Barcelona, 2004. This paper was also presented at the 6th BDA International Conference, University of Warwick.