Academic journal article Higher Learning Research Communications

Exploring the Relationship between Students Needing Accommodations and Instructor Self-Efficacy in Complying with Accommodations

Academic journal article Higher Learning Research Communications

Exploring the Relationship between Students Needing Accommodations and Instructor Self-Efficacy in Complying with Accommodations

Article excerpt


University instructors regularly encounter students with disabilities in their classrooms, and in the 2011-2012 school year, 11% of undergraduates self-reported having a learning disability; a number that continues to increase (Hadley, 2016; National Center for Education Statistics, 2014). There are students who have not reported their disabilities to their institution as it is not required to do so (Lynch & Gussel, 2001). In fact, nearly two thirds of students on college campuses choose not to disclose their disabilities (Newman & Madaus, 2015), and may not be receiving needed accommodations due to the nondisclosure. Legislation requires that instructors provide reasonable accommodations to students with documented needs (Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990). Since instructors encounter these students regularly and are required to accommodate them, a greater understanding of this population is needed.

Many researchers have focused on how university students with disabilities perceive their interactions with instructors (Cornett-DeVito & Worley, 2005; Frymier & Wanzer, 2003), how faculty perceive students with disabilities and their accommodations (Bento, 1996; Murray, Flannery, & Wren, 2008; Murray, Wren, & Keys, 2008), and how students can advocate for themselves in higher education (Palmer & Roessler, 2000; Roberts, Ju, & Zhang, 2016; Test, Fowler, Wood, Brewer, & Eddy, 2005). However, researchers have yet to identify what information instructors need to proactively meet student accommodations. Researchers have shown that university faculty understand the need to accommodate students with learning disabilities, but faculty are often uncertain how to do so (Murray, Wren, et al., 2008). When students may advocate for themselves, how their instructors respond could have implications for future student self-advocacy. Instructors' reactions could be based on a lack of understanding of disabilities and their implications, as well as not clearly understanding the legislative mandates (Bento, 1996). One variable that could impact effective communication between faculty and students with disabilities in providing accommodations is instructor self-efficacy. Instructor self-efficacy, or an instructor's belief that he or she has the ability to meet the student's accommodation needs, may be dependent on instructor empathy and flexibility, and student self-disclosure could affect instructor self-efficacy. Due to instructors' lack of knowledge regarding accommodations and the legal requirements surrounding them, instructors often lack self-efficacy working with students needing accommodations (Bento, 1996). Therefore, identifying how instructor self-efficacy can be increased is crucial.

Despite that there are laws requiring instructors to provide accommodations, some may begrudgingly comply (Cornett-DeVito & Worley, 2005). To better understand possible instructor reticence in meeting student accommodations, this study was conducted to examine the impact of student self-disclosure of needed accommodations on instructor self-efficacy in making those accommodations. The purpose is to determine if the amount of information students self-disclose can impact instructors' beliefs that they can make the accommodations. This research will benefit postsecondary instructors, education and communication researchers, and students needing accommodations.

Review of Literature

With an understanding of what impacts university instructors' self-efficacy for making accommodations, educators may be able to further develop models of advocacy to teach students how to communicate with instructors in a manner that will benefit both students and instructors.

Students Needing Accommodations

A disability is defined as "(a) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual; (b) a record of such an impairment; or (c) being regarded as having such an impairment" (Americans With Disabilities Act 1990, 2008, p. …

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