Olson, L. (2021). A descriptive study of the accommodations, assistive technologies, and supports chosen by students with an intellectual disability attending a post-secondary institution (Publication No. 28962915) [Doctoral dissertation, Bethel University]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global. https://www.proquest.com/docview/2625259210
Bethel University (St. Paul, MN); ProQuest document ID: 2625259210
Incidence of use and helpfulness status for several accommodations were reported by students with intellectual disabilities attending a postsecondary institution. Accommodations that researchers asked about included six exam accommodations: the use of computers (for testing), extended time, special quiet setting, oral delivery ("read-aloud"), calculator use on tests, and tests broken down into smaller sections.
Students with intellectual disabilities (n=15) who exited high school and attended one of nine Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID) programs, among the 22 TPSID programs (in the U.S.) in the spring of 2021, responded to the survey. Additional demographic and other information such as age (18–24+), gender (male/female), and type of postsecondary institution—two- or four-year, community college or university—were reported.
A researcher-developed online survey was used to collect postsecondary students' perceptions on accommodations, assistive technology (AT), and supports. In addition to collecting demographic information, the survey incorporated a chart listing various assistive technologies, instructional supports, and exam accommodations; details on the six assessment accommodations were emphasized in this summary. Students completed the chart by identifying the accommodations that they used or were not familiar with, and their perceptions of them, rating their degree of helpfulness on a scale of 1–5 [1=not at all, 5=very]. Some survey items collected short answers on reasons for respondents' perceptions of various specific accommodations, AT, and other supports. Descriptive statistics were used to rank the most commonly used and most useful accommodations. A non-parametric analysis using Mann-Whitney U statistics examined potential differences between genders.
Four of the five highest-ranked accommodations selected by all 15 participants were for course examinations. All 15 students used and found helpful the use of computers for testing and extended time, with 93.3% of students responding that computer testing was very helpful and 6.7% responding that it was somewhat helpful. About 87% of students indicated that extended time was very helpful, and 13% found it somewhat helpful. Students commented reasons for these ratings; on computer testing, participants responded that they didn't have good handwriting and that the Noted app was better than the text on an "open-book" test. They commented that extended time permitted sufficient time because they were slow to respond to test items. All 15 students used quiet test setting, with 73% rating it very helpful, 20% rating it somewhat helpful, and only 7% indicating it was not very helpful. Their reasons for using quiet setting was the easier focus and concentration they could do, and feeling "less stressed out in a quiet area." All 15 participants used oral delivery (by a test proctor), with 53% rating it very helpful, 33% somewhat helpful, and 13% not very helpful. Students commented on how oral delivery works, and that it "lets me understand stuff better." The exam accommodations not used by all participants included calculator—87% used calculators during exams, while 13% did not use or were not familiar with this accommodation—and tests segmented into several sections—80% used this accommodation and 20% did not. Ratings by the 87% who used calculators included 67% indicating very helpful, and 20% indicating somewhat helpful; reasons for helpfulness included that calculators saved time and permitted students to break down the problem into parts. Ratings by the 80% who used the test questions separated into more sections included 67% indicating very helpful and 13% indicating somewhat helpful; students noted that this accommodation allowed students not to look at entire pages of test items, and making the test seem less complicated. Non-parametric analysis using Mann-Whitney showed no significant survey response differences between genders. [Note: The incidence of using other non-assessment accommodations, assistive technology, and supports, were also reported, and their helpfulness described, but not addressed in this summary.] Limitations of the study, recommendations for practice, and suggested areas for future research were presented.