Best Practices for Classroom Accommodations
Extended time to take in class quizzes, tests, and exams (1.5x time). Specific arrangements for testing accommodations are to be made between faculty and the student for each test or exam. Faculty is to be given reasonable notice (at least a week). Alternate testing locations may be available when needed. Student must request use of an alternate location for each quiz, test or exam.
Extended time to take exams (2x time). Specific arrangements for testing accommodations are to be made between faculty and the student for each test or exam. Faculty is to be given reasonable notice (at least a week). Alternate testing locations may be available when needed. Student must request use of an alternate location for each quiz, test or exam.
Reduced distraction environment for testing. Specific arrangements for testing accommodations are to be made between faculty and the student for each test or exam. Faculty is to be given reasonable notice (at least a week). A Test Proctoring Center is available when needed.
Teaching Strategy: All three of these accommodations speak directly to the nature of exams and the kinds of student learning you hope to achieve through your exams. Planning for the types of exams you will give, of course, takes place as early as the course design stage. As you sit down to plan your course, consider what you want students to learn before they leave your class. We call this process "backwards design," because you are beginning your plan for the course with the end result—student learning—rather than the more specific details like texts and assignments. Exams play an important part in this process. Once you have determined your learning outcomes and course goals, think about how your exams will fit into this larger context. Then, when it comes time to write your exams, return to these goals and use them to guide the process. The amount of time you will give students to complete the exam becomes an important consideration at this point. Will the amount of time you have allotted allow students to demonstrate their learning? Do the questions need to be revised in order to achieve this goal? Would a take-home, open-book, or Blackboard exam be more effective? Could the exam be reconfigured as an open-ended assignment instead? In short, the timing and format of the exam can be just as important as the content, and focusing on your goals for the exam can help to alleviate any pressure you may feel to constrict (within reason) the time given to students to work on the exam. Ultimately, of course, the specific accommodation for a particular student needs to be implemented, but considering the timeframe and scope of exams can benefit all of the students in your class.
Altered exam dates. Student will take no more than one exam in a 24 hour period.
Breaks for quizzes, tests, and exams. Provide student with a 5 minute break for every 45 minutes to one hour of testing. Specific arrangements for testing accommodations are to be made between faculty and the student for each test or exam. Faculty is to be given reasonable notice (at least a week). Alternate testing locations may be available when needed.
Teaching Strategy: Although this accommodation is essential for some students, it is really a beneficial strategy for all students. We know that each student's brain processes material at a different rate, so many (if not all) may appreciate the ability to take a short break. The brief moment of rest may allow for a more successful performance on the exam. If you are worried about cheating or disrupting other students, allow them to take a break only within the strictures of the classroom.
Paper formatted exams. The student should be allowed to receive electronic or online tests in a paper format. Specific arrangements for testing accommodations are to be made between faculty and the student for each test or exam. Faculty is to be given reasonable notice (at least a week). Alternate testing locations may be available when needed.
Use of a calculator for quantitatively based exams. This accommodation should only be offered if the knowledge being measured does not fundamentally alter the learning outcomes of the exam.
Scribe. Student requires the use of a scribe to complete tests, quizzes, exams and in class assignments.
Reader. Student requires the use of human or computer mediated reader for completion of tests, quizzes, exams and in class assignments.
Use of a computer for writing. Allow use of computer for writing/typing out responses to essay exams and other in class activities that require extensive writing. Disability Resources is available to administer exams requiring a written response (e.g. essay and short answer format) in electronic format. The specific arrangements for testing accommodations are to be made between faculty and the student for each test or exam. Faculty is to be given reasonable notice (at least a week).
Teaching Strategy: If you have access to computers in your classroom or have the ability to reserve a computer lab (or individual computers), consider designing assignments, exams, and other activities that allow all students to work on the computer. Because many students can type more quickly than they can write by hand, this would allow them to produce more work. Additionally, it is easier to proofread and revise their work when it is created on the computer. Similarly, another option would be to allow students to complete assignments that require a great deal of writing and complex critical thinking skills, such as essay exams, at home where they can compose their responses on the computer. This format may allow all students to better demonstrate their learning. These kinds of assignments also allow you to create more complex questions, because the students have more time to answer them.
Note-taking services. Notetakers are arranged through Ann Isgrig in Academic Advising. Please contact her with questions at isgrig[at]grinnell[dot]edu or 641-269-3702.
Flexibility with attendance. Due to the disability, there may be absences due to medical appointments/disability related illness. Consideration in allowing make-up work is appropriate. The student understands that they are responsible for all class work. Absences cannot interfere with the fundamental outcomes of the course.
Computer access during class. Due to the disability, the student may need to use his/her computer during class to access books and/or to take notes.
Smart Pens. Student uses a smart pen to take notes and simultaneously record the lecture and discussion.
Copies of lecture notes/outlines/PowerPoint presentations. When available provide copies of lecture notes, outlines, or PowerPoint presentations prior to class to allow the student to focus on the lecture and to minimize the amount of writing needed to develop an adequate record of class.
Screen Reader. Any information in handout form, PowerPoint, etc., should be provided to the student in electronic format as early as possible, preferably before class, to be accessed while using a screen reader.
Audio record lectures. The student may utilize their own equipment to audio record lectures.
Video record lectures. The student may utilize their own equipment to video record lectures.
Breaks during class and exam. Due to the disability, the student may need to leave class for a short period of time. They will return as soon as possible. Please allow flexibility to make up any work they missed while out of class.
Teaching Strategy: We certainly want students in class and paying attention, but sometimes needs arise. If you are concerned about students not returning to class, consider implementing a participation grade for your course that combines attendance with contributions to discussion or other class activities. This level of accountability can serve to minimize arriving late or leaving early.
Classroom Furniture. Student may require the use of alternative seating (adaptive table, chair or stool) in classroom.
Flexibility with arrival and departure from class (no more than 10 minutes). Due to the disability, the student may need to leave class for a short period of time (which may correspond with the start or end of the course). Please allow flexibility to make up any work they missed while out of class.
Flexibility with presentations. Student may require an alternate format of publicly presenting.
Teaching Strategy: We are seeing more and more in the way of creative approaches to student presentations these days. We know, for example, that PowerPoint presentations where students read from slides or lecture-style presentations where students read text without any interaction with the rest of the class are ineffective for the same reason that those methods do not work in other kinds of teaching environments: there is no engagement with the audience and, hence, very little learning takes place (for either the presenter or the audience). On the other hand, presentations that allow students to use other media or other formats — such as mock trials, roundtable discussions, etc. — or to 14 collaborate with their peers are more successful in engendering learning because both the presenters and the audience tend to be more active and engaged.
Closed Circuit Television (CCTV). Student requires the use of a CCTV to complete tests, quizzes, exams and in-class assignments.
Classroom Aid. Student requires an aid in class in order to fully access the course content. The aid will sit next to the student and will complete tasks at the direction of the student. The aid will not provide the student assistance with content or influence the student's work in the course.
CART Services. This accommodation is provided to students who require information in a transcribed format by use of Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART). A transcription disclosure agreement form will be signed by the student if they request a copy of the transcript. Sign LanguageInterpreter/Transliterator. Students who are Deaf or hard of hearing may require a Sign Language interpreter(s)/transliterator(s) who manually signs what is audible by any speaker and voices what is signed by the student, using English, American Sign Language (ASL) or Signed English.
Teaching Strategy: When you need to use technical terminology and/or jargon that is specific to your field, or you need to make reference to very complex ideas, consider offering your students illustrative definitions, explanations, and examples in order to further their understanding. This will help all of the students in your class learn more effectively, because they will be able to make deeper connections to the material than if they were only presented with the term or concept. This could even lead to several kinds of group activities where you ask students to discuss your explanations or to come up with their own examples.
Personal Attendant. Student requires the assistance of a personal attendant during class to manage personal tasks and they will be present in the classroom. The personal attendant will not interfere with the integrity of the learning process.
Service Animal. The student will have a service animal with them in class. This animal is necessary for the student to have access to the course and will accompany the student anywhere the student goes. For more information read the Assistance and Service Animal Policy.
Spelling. Allow for as little weight as possible upon this student's spelling when composing written exams. Please allow this student to use a dictionary during the exam. This provision should only be provided if spelling is not one of the fundamental requirements which is being assessed. Specific arrangements for testing accommodations are to be made between faculty and the student for each test or exam. Faculty is to be given reasonable notice (at least a week). Alternate testing locations may be available when needed.
Teaching Strategy: Although we all value precision of thought and of writing in our students' work, composition scholars who study college writers for whom English is a second language talk about the difference between local errors and global errors. Local errors are those, like basic misspellings, that do not impede the reader's understanding of the text. A comma splice would be another good example of a local error. Global errors, on the other hand, often make the meaning of the writing inscrutable. Long run-on sentences that are not just grammatically problematic but also affect our understanding of the idea qualify as global errors. By the same token, severe misspellings where you cannot even discern what word the student intended would also be global errors. A grading process whereby local errors have very little (if any) impact on students' grades, while global errors factor into the holistic grading of the writing assignment, may be effective in maximizing the learning of all students.
Extended time for out of class assignments. Prior to the assignment due date the student and faculty member will discuss a reasonable period of time in which to complete assignments. Class assignment extension will be provided only in the case that missing an assignment date will not delay the progress of all other students in the class or serve as a foundation for a next assignment.
Group projects. Instructor may need to assist student with forming a group for in and out of class assignments.
Teaching Strategy: Group projects can be tricky, not least because of their social dynamics. Before determining how groups will be formed, though, it is helpful to consider your goals for the assignment. What do you want to achieve by implementing this assignment and how will the use of groups aid in the effectiveness of the project? Once you have answered these questions, then it becomes easier to see what kind of group structure will be most beneficial. In any case, we suggest that you have some hand in deciding how all groups are formed, simply because if students form their own groups, they may align themselves for a variety of reasons (friendship, social status, etc.) that have nothing to do with the learning outcomes for the project.
Speech Recognition Software. Student requires the use of speech recognition software to complete tests, quizzes, exams, in and out of class assignments.
Adapted from the Office of Disability Services at George Mason University