Condra, M., Dineen, M., Gauthier, S., Gills, H., Jack-Davies, A., & Condra, E. (2015). Academic accommodations for postsecondary students with mental health disabilities in Ontario, Canada: A review of the literature and reflections on emerging issues . Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability , 28 (3), 277–291. https://www.ahead.org/publications/jped

Journal Article

Condra, M., Dineen, M., Gauthier, S., Gills, H., Jack-Davies, A., & Condra, E. (2015). Academic accommodations for postsecondary students with mental health disabilities in Ontario, Canada: A review of the literature and reflections on emerging issues. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 28(3), 277–291. https://www.ahead.org/publications/jped

Notes

[no doi reported]; Also downloadable from ERIC online database: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1083849

Tags

Emotional/Behavioral disability; International (non-U.S.); Postsecondary

URL

https://www.ahead.org/publications/jped

Summary

Accommodation

The researchers summarized findings from the empirical literature about providing accommodations for, and otherwise supporting, students with mental health disabilities at the postsecondary level. This summary emphasizes accommodations provided during course exams, including extended time, separate testing room, and repeat (or "make-up") exams.

Participants

This is a literature review of over 20 studies, published between 2003 and 2013, that the researchers applied to the context of higher education institutions in Ontario, Canada. Participants in these studies were postsecondary students with mental health disabilities.

Dependent Variable

This is a review of empirical literature about the academic challenges of students with mental health disabilities at the postsecondary level. In the review, the researchers identified and examined a set of issues, and associated qualitative and quantitative data, to demonstrate the relevance of challenges requiring attention. The summary includes findings about accommodations use for this population of students with disabilities, as well as perceptions about accommodations from the perspectives of faculty and students.

Findings

The researchers emphasized the need for "retroactive accommodations" (p. 283) -- such as makeup exams -- due to the episodic nature of mental health disabilities. This need is based on the idea that "the unexpected, sudden emergence or re-emergence of symptoms disrupts the student's functioning" (p. 283) and due to the point that these conditions can make "it difficult to provide advance notice of their accommodation needs" (p. 283). The increasing trend of students with mental health disabilities in postsecondary education was documented. Recognizing the challenges to current policies (at Ontario higher education institutions) for granting accommodations -- including "determining the credibility of student self-reports, procedural fairness, academic integrity, and the administrative and workload" (p. 284) matters -- the researchers noted that the implementation of retroactive accommodations policy might require an individual case-by-case approach. The researchers featured studies indicating various faculty attitudes about accommodating students with mental health disabilities, and even about whether these students have a legitimate place in higher education, separate from the legality of access to education in Canada and the U.S. Reviewing the "evidence ... that mental health education and training for postsecondary faculty and staff contributes to the success of students with MHD" (p. 284), the researchers indicated the need for appropriate information and training for postsecondary educators. Accommodating other academic learning programs, such as fieldwork practicum settings, were also discussed.