The U.S. Department of Education statistics report increasing numbers of students with learning disabilities and other non-apparent disabilities enrolling in higher education. This change in student demographic presents new challenges to institutions and disability service professionals to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse student population. The purpose of this study was to attain a deeper understanding of the decision-making experiences of the disability service professionals charged with making accommodation decisions with the intent of informing professional development opportunities that will help build the confidence and effectiveness of these high-stakes decision-makers. The research questions were addressed using a mixed methods research design utilizing a quantitative survey and qualitative interviews of disability service professionals in the northeast region of the United States. Major findings from this study included a surprising yet optimistic decrease in importance disability service professionals placed on specific documentation components in order to make accommodation decisions, the significance of building collaborative relationships on their campuses, and the considerable time and resources they devote to educating faculty on alternative methods of assessment to more effectively teach an increasingly diverse student population. The results of this study underscore the importance of disability service professionals on increasingly diverse campuses and the role they play in enhancing accessibility and ultimately contributing to the culture of diversity on their campuses. Professional development opportunities for higher education administrators are discussed, which include shifting the training focus from documentation and accommodation decision-making to understanding learning and teaching styles, as well as developing soft skills related to interdepartmental collaborative problem-solving.
|Commitee:||Austin, Vance, Mulqueen, Joann|
|Department:||School of Education|
|School Location:||United States -- New York|
|Source:||DAI-A 76/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Educational leadership, Special education, Higher education|
|Keywords:||Disability, Higher education, Learning disabilities|
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