Lewandowski, L., Lambert, T. L., Lovett, B. J., Panahon, C. J., & Sytsma, M. R. (2014). College students’ preferences for test accommodations . Canadian Journal of School Psychology , 29 (2), 116–126. https://doi.org/10.1177/0829573514522116

Journal Article

Lewandowski, L., Lambert, T. L., Lovett, B. J., Panahon, C. J., & Sytsma, M. R. (2014). College students’ preferences for test accommodations. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 29(2), 116–126. https://doi.org/10.1177/0829573514522116


Attention problem; Breaks during testing; Dictated response; Dictated response (scribe); Emotional/Behavioral disability; Enlarged print (on paper); Extended time; Hearing impairment (including deafness); Individual; Learning disabilities; Multiple accommodations; Multiple disabilities; No disability; Oral delivery; Physical disability; Postsecondary; Traumatic brain injury (TBI); U.S. context; Visual impairment (including blindness); Word processing (for writing)





The researchers surveyed participants about several accommodations provided in a postsecondary context, including extended time (200% time and 150% time), additional breaks, separate room setting, word processing, dictated response (by scribe), oral delivery via a human reader, and large print.


Survey respondents were postsecondary students with disabilities (n=137) and without disabilities (n=475). The students attended one of three postsecondary schools in the Northeast or Midwest (U.S.). Demographic details including gender, age, race, and year in school were also reported. Of the 137 students with disabilities, about 56% reported mental health conditions (anxiety, depression), 28.5% had learning disabilities, 28.5% had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, about 2% reported traumatic brain injury, and remaining 19% reported physical, sensory, or developmental disabilities. About 20% had multiple disabilities.

Dependent Variable

The dependent variable was participants' responses to a survey constructed by the researchers to measure the extent to which students perceived that each accommodation would help (or not) on either a classroom exam or a high-stakes assessment. The final questions inquired whether accommodations ought to be available to all test-takers, and whether exams should have universal design features rather than specific accommodations. Demographic data and accommodations experience details were also collected.


All respondents, both with and without disabilities, indicated that their performance would be improved when using (in decreasing popularity) extended time, separate exam rooms, extra breaks, and word processor. Also, accommodations were judged to be more helpful for high-stakes exams rather than classroom tests. For high-stakes tests, students with disabilities were significantly more positive (than students without disabilities) about separate room setting, reader, scribe, and word processing. A similar proportion (just over 2/3) of students with and without disabilities indicated that all students ought to have access to using accommodations. More than half (60%) of students without disabilities supported universally-designed exams, while just under half (48%) of students with disabilities supported the same. Limitations of the study were reported, and future research directions were suggested.