Price, K. N. (2018). STEM and non-STEM faculty knowledge and attitudes toward students with disabilities (Publication No. 10816493) [Doctoral dissertation, Barry University]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global. https://www.proquest.com/docview/2057991694
Barry University (Miami, FL); ProQuest document ID: 2057991694
Academic accommodations were not individually examined. Postsecondary faculty members' knowledge and perceptions of academic accommodations for students with disabilities at their university were investigated, and potential associations with academic fields, attitudes toward students with disabilities, and willingness to provide accommodations to students with disabilities were explored. Exam accommodations including extended time, alternative test location, and test readers, as well as other supports including priority seating, recording lectures, assistive technology, and text on tape were specifically identified among survey items.
Fifty-four faculty members at a historically Black college or university (HBCU) in North Florida (U.S.) participated fully in providing survey data. Demographic data including age, gender (62% female), race/ethnicity, and educational credentials were also reported. Respondents had various academic ranks, and 63% taught science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses while 37% taught in non-STEM disciplines. The university's faculty population data, and other information on academic colleges and fields were also reported. Four survey respondents also participated in interviews.
A researcher-modified version of an educator survey called the Accommodations of University Students with Disabilities Inventory (AUSDI; Wolman & McCrink, 2004) was used with special permission of the AUSDI authors. The AUSDI was described as comprising seven subscales delineating seven factors, measuring postsecondary faculty members' knowledge of policies and laws (such as Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and 2008 amendments, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973), their attitudes toward students with disabilities, and their willingness to provide academic accommodations to them. A set of 10 survey questions developed by the researcher were added to the AUSDI to gather information on respondents' "knowledge, familiarity, and perceptions about the disability support services center" (p. 47). Quantitative data analyses examined potential correlations among individual survey item responses and responses to sets or subscales of items. Qualitative data including selected survey item responses and responses to interview questions—such as on training and professional development and on personal teaching experiences with students with disabilities—were also analyzed.
Overall, participants demonstrated high knowledge of accommodations and awareness of associated processes, across participants' individual variables examined. No overall differences in survey mean scores were identified between STEM and non-STEM faculty members in (a) accommodations knowledge, (b) familiarity with the disability services center (DSC), or (c) attitudes toward students with disabilities. However, there was a significant difference on one survey item, indicating that non-STEM faculty members had higher knowledge than STEM faculty on Section 504 rules. The researcher described a significant positive correlation among participants' responses to survey items on knowledge about accommodations, familiarity with DSC services, and use of DSC services; participants who had high scores on items in one of these areas also had high scores in the others. STEM and non-STEM faculty members had similarly positive scores pertaining to attitudes toward students with disabilities; however, female participants had significantly more positive attitudes than male participants. Finally, there were no significant differences in STEM and non-STEM faculty members' willingness to provide accommodations. The researcher noted that this factor—willingness to provide accommodations—had no association with participants' responses on the other survey scales. The qualitative data yielded four themes: (a) communication, including the need for improved communication between the disability services center and faculty members; (b) the diverse needs of faculty members for accommodations training and information; (c) service improvements were needed, with interview participants offering a number of ideas; and (d) positive experiences, in that participants described having had good experiences with students with disabilities, and that even challenges resulted in positive outcomes.