Accomodating learning disabilities
Other faculty adamantly dig in their heels and refuse to provide any academic adjustments or what they perceive as "differential treatment." Most faculty responses, however, fall between these extremes.
Surveys of faculty attitudes reveal that the large majority of faculty members are willing to accommodate students with learning disabilities but struggle with ethical concerns in balancing the rights of students with learning disabilities with the academic integrity of the course, program of study, and institution (Leyser, 19989; Matthews, Anderson, & Skolnick, 1987; Mc Carthy & Campbell, 1993; Nelson, Dodd, & Smith, 1990; Nelson, Smith, & Dodd, 1991; Satcher, 1992).
ABSTRACT: Individuals with learning disabilities are attending institutions of higher education in greater numbers than ever before.
In attempts to accommodate these students in the classroom, faculty often have the ethical concern of balancing the rights of students with learning disabilities with the academic integrity of the course, program of study, and institution.
From this assortment of responses it appears that, although most faculty understand that they have an obligation to provide accommodation, ethical questions remain.
Upon examining these concerns more closely, it becomes apparent that regardless of the tenor of the faculty comment- whether accommodation is viewed as a positive challenge or a negative burden- the core question for many faculty appears to be the ethical issue of "how much is enough?
In order to dispel misinformation, a brief description of learning disabilities and federal law is provided. " is examined, and recommendations are provided for the informed and active participation of faculty in accommodating college students with learning disabilities.
A student approaches a faculty member after the first day of class and informs her that he has a learning disability and will need extended time on all exams.
A learning disability is a generic term for a heterogeneous group of disorders that affect how individuals receive, encode, store, and retrieve information.The researchers noted, "It seemed clear that they [faculty members] wanted to treat the learning disabled as much like non-handicapped students as possible.They would accommodate to a point, but not to the extent of lowering certain course standards" (p.49).Similarly, in another faculty survey Nelson, Dodd, & Smith (1990) noted that faculty were generally willing to accommodate students with learning disabilities but "only if they could be assured that it would not lower academic standards" (p. Faculty surveys consistently note similar concerns for maintaining standards, yet fail to describe how faculty actually make the distinction as to how much is enough in accommodating students with learning disabilities.
Comments provided by respondents on various faculty surveys provide insight on more specific areas of faculty interest and concern.Some faculty lament accommodation and access requirements as illustrated by such comments as "Why dilute a college education any more than it already has been by accepting less than capable students?