Do you wonder why some students eligible for accommodations through accessible education services (AES) do not actually use their accommodations? According to Melanie Gangle, accessible education services, in a recent qualitative study, students identified six key reasons: (1) Desire for self-sufficiency, (2) Desire to avoid negative social reactions, (3) Insufficient knowledge about their accommodations, (4) Quality and usefulness of DSS and accommodations, (5) Negative experiences with professors, and (6) Fear of future ramifications.
Gangle has the following suggestions for faculty who would like to support more students in utilizing their AES accommodations and demonstrating their competencies in course assessments:
- On the first day of the semester when reviewing the syllabus, spend a moment highlighting the section about AES and make a brief statement such as: “If you have an AES accommodation plan, please schedule an appointment with me soon so we can plan ahead for your accommodations in this class.” This simple statement creates a welcoming atmosphere while reminding students of their responsibility to communicate proactively with you about their AES accommodations.
- During the semester when you announce a general reminder about an upcoming exam, include a statement such as: “And if you have AES exam accommodations, remember to talk with me no later than X date (1-2 weeks in advance of exam) so we have time to make arrangements for accommodations.” This strategy helps reduce last-minute accommodation requests while encouraging students to communicate with you.
- Would you like support in reserving space for exam accommodations that involve extended time and/or alternative setting? Contact your dean’s office for assistance reserving exam space.
- The traditional time-limited exam format assesses course competencies while simultaneously assessing how quickly your students can read, write, analyze, etc. If reading speed, writing speed and analytic speed are not essential learning outcomes for your course, consider exam alternatives such as take-home exams; online exams (via Moodle – contact academic technology services for more information); cumulative papers, projects, or presentations; outside-the-box formats such as creating a content-rich video, or a Wiki with appropriate citations.
- Talk with a colleague in your department or across campus to explore new strategies for assessing student mastery of course learning outcomes.
The AES office thanks faculty for all that you do to create a welcoming, supportive learning environment for all students, every day. Would you like to discuss these ideas further? Contact Gangle at firstname.lastname@example.org or x8236.