Waale, M. F. (2017). Supporting differently-abled students in two New Jersey community colleges (Publication No. 10585051) [Doctoral dissertation, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey—New Brunswick]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global. https://www.proquest.com/docview/1881318879
Rutgers The State University of New Jersey—New Brunswick; ProQuest document ID: 1881318879; also available online at https://rucore.libraries.rutgers.edu/rutgers-lib/52049/
The accommodations and support services offered to and received by postsecondary students with various disabilities were investigated. Disability-related services were considered broadly; this summary emphasizes the academic accommodations and assistive technology supporting student performance tasks including exams: extended time, specialized settings, calculators, and assistive technology including speech-to-text and other writing software, computer use during testing, writing answers on test booklets (not "bubble sheets"), oral delivery of test items, breaks during testing, scribe for documenting student answers, and adaptive seating.
Four disability services office (DSO) professionals and 20 postsecondary students with a variety of disabilities were surveyed and interviewed. Disabilities included specific learning disabilities in reading, writing, and math; mental health-related disabilities, speech-language impairment, physical/mobility disabilities, attention difficulties, intellectual disabilities, and sensory impairments (specifically visual impairment). The students had been deemed eligible, and had received, disability services; 12 students received general disability-related supports, and eight accessed more intensive services. Additional demographic data and other details were reported for the student participants, including that about half were White, and half were students of color. All participants had completed at least one college course, with most having completed at least a full year of coursework. The setting was two community colleges in New Jersey (U.S.); these higher education institutions' population demographics and other details were also reported. Part of the study purpose was to compare and contrast these different programs' disability services.
Survey responses following a five-point rating skill were compiled quantitatively, and analyzed. Respondents rated accommodations [questions IVB2 and IVB3 of Student Protocol] and assistive technology with the overall quality and the degree of helpfulness to their academic success [1=not helpful, 2=slightly helpful, 3=somewhat helpful, 4=very helpful, 5=critical to success. Qualitative data were collected and transcribed from a structured set of interview questions along with follow-up questions. These datasets were triangulated with program documents and online informational artifacts from each of the two postsecondary programs.
Disability-related services were considered broadly; this summary emphasizes course exam accommodations and assistive technology. At both community college (CC1 and CC2), the helpfulness of counseling on accommodations was rated somewhat helpful, very helpful, or critical to success by 90–100% of student respondents; no students rated it slightly helpful or not helpful, and only 0–10% of students rated it as not applicable to them. At one community college (CC1), about 50% of students rated the degree of quality of accommodations counseling as very good or excellent, 16.7% rated it as good, and about 33% rated it as fair or poor. In contrast, at the other community college (CC2), about 88% of students rated the quality of accommodations counseling as very good or excellent, and the remaining respondents rated it as good; none indicated low quality or not applicable when rating accommodations counseling. However, liaisoning with faculty regarding accommodations was rated lower in degree of helpfulness at CC1 than at CC2. Only about 25% of CC1 students rated communication with faculty on accommodations as very helpful or critical, with about 40% rating it as less helpful, and 33% indicating it was not applicable. In contrast, about 88% of CC2 students rated faculty communication on accommodations as very helpful or critical to success, with the remaining students indicating it was not applicable. Similarly, more CC1 students perceived that faculty communication on accommodations was lower-quality: only about 35% rated it as good, very good, or excellent, and the remaining students rated it lower or not applicable. In contrast, most CC2 students rated liaisoning with faculty about accommodations as good (12%), very good (38%), or excellent (38%); only about 12% responded with "not applicable." Students from one community college (CC1) rated assistive technology (AT) as helpful: 25% rated AT with a 4 on a 5-point scale, and about 17% rated AT with a 5. Students from the other community college (CC2) rated AT similarly on helpfulness to their success: about 19% rated AT with a 4, and about 28% rated AT with a 5. In contrast, only about 6% of respondents from each community college rated AT as not helpful. About 38% and 25% of respondents from the two programs indicated that AT was not applicable to them. Overall quality ratings for assistive technology were very different between the community colleges. CC1 had very good ("4") and excellent ("5") ratings of about 15% of respondents, with over half (54%) indicating that AT quality was not applicable to them. At CC2, about 53% of respondents rated AT quality as 4 or 5 on the 5-point scale, with about 22% indicating "not applicable." Limitations of the study were reported, and future research directions were suggested.