Chiu, Y.-C., Chang, H.-Y. V., Johnston, A., Nascimento, M., Herbert, J. T., & Niu, X. M. (2019). Impact of disability services on academic achievement among college students with disabilities . Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability , 32 (3), 227–245. https://www.ahead.org/professional-resources/publications/jped
[no doi reported]; also located on ERIC online: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1236854
Disability support services were broadly described in five categories: assistive technology, classroom accommodations, exam accommodations, notetaking support, and "Smart Pen." Details on exam accommodations—such as extended time, separate low-distraction setting, and flexible scheduling—are emphasized, when available, in this summary.
An extant dataset of 562 postsecondary students with disabilities from a public university in the mid-Atlantic region (U.S.) was analyzed. The data sample met the following criteria: (a) degree-seeking students, who (b) registered with disability services, (c) took an intake assessment with a disability specialist, and (d) received services between 2009 and 2011. Demographic information including sex (male/female) and race (Black/White), and other information such as academic major course of study were analyzed. Various disabilities were reported, and grouped into four broad categories: cognitive disabilities, physical disabilities, psychological disabilities, and other disabilities. Timing of registering for disability services during the postsecondary careers was described as "early," within semesters 1–4; "middle," within semesters 5–6; and "late," in semester 7 or later.
Longitudinal data from 2009–2011 were extracted at the end of the Spring term in 2015 for the sample of 562 postsecondary students with disabilities. Data including grade-point average (GPA) for each academic term, and persistence to graduation, were analyzed in relation to participant demographic and other characteristics and accommodations usage.
About 82% (n=461) of the postsecondary participants with disabilities requested and were approved for exam accommodations. Approval for exam accommodations was not associated with semester GPAs. Factors associated with GPAs included: disabilities group—the physical disabilities group had higher GPAs; academic major—STEM majors had lower GPAs; race—Black students had lower GPAs; sex—female students had higher GPAs; timing of registration for disability services—early registrants had higher GPAs; and approval for notetaking support—users had lower GPAs. Additional details about the factors were not available, and researchers could not necessarily explain the links, but merely that they existed.