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Mythbusting: Deconstructing the Experience of Graduate Students with Disabilities in Canadian Postsecondary Education Canadian Association of Graduate.

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Presentation on theme: "Mythbusting: Deconstructing the Experience of Graduate Students with Disabilities in Canadian Postsecondary Education Canadian Association of Graduate."— Presentation transcript:

1 Mythbusting: Deconstructing the Experience of Graduate Students with Disabilities in Canadian Postsecondary Education Canadian Association of Graduate Studies (CAGS) Dr. Mahadeo A. Sukhai Chair, National Graduate Experience Taskforce November 05, 2013

2 Contact Details  or  Tel: x 3498 or x 260

3 Truth or Fiction?  “Graduate students with disabilities take longer to complete their programs of study”

4 Time to Completion Statistics  Students were asked: – What is the EXPECTED time to completion based on information provided by the Department/School? – What was their program start date? – What was their (projected) program end date?  Preliminary data from NEADS’ National Graduate Student Experience Survey

5 Time to Completion Statistics  Interpretation: – Student expectation of time to completion (for students in the program) – Actual time to completion (for recent graduates) – Ratio of actual or student expectation vs. institutional expectation

6 Time to Completion Statistics  Doctoral Students: – Average actual/student expectation of time to completion = 1.1x the institutional requirement – 8% of students take longer than 1.5x to complete  Master’s Students: – Average actual/student expectation of time to completion = 1.3x the institutional requirement – 15% of students take longer than 1.5x to complete

7 Fiction  “Graduate students with disabilities take longer to complete their programs of study”

8 About Me  Research fellow, University Health Network  Team Leader, Advanced Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory  Doctorate in cancer biology  Post-doctoral training in cancer genomics and experimental therapeutics  Canada’s first blind biomedical researcher  Chair, NEADS’ National Graduate Experience Taskforce

9 The NEADS Graduate Experience Taskforce - Rationale  There is a significant need to better understand the overall experiences of disabled students in graduate studies  Currently, there is a critical lack of information in this area – Need to understand the “student experience tapestry” – Need to catalogue institutional leading practices 9NEADS Summer 2013

10 Taskforce Mandate  To assemble a multi-stakeholder group of experts, in order to review and discuss the academic experience of graduate students with disabilities, in the context of the last fifteen years' advances in technology, attitudes and legislation 10NEADS Summer 2013

11 Stakeholder Membership  Graduate students with disabilities  Disability service providers (IDIA; CADSPPE)  Student financial aid administrators (CASFAA)  Graduate student services (CAGS)  Faculty  Community service agencies  Legal  Council of Ontario Universities  Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada  Graduate deans (advisory capacity)  University senior administration (advisory capacity) 11NEADS Summer 2013

12 Project Goals  To examine the experiences of, and barriers faced by, graduate students with disabilities across Canada  To develop a discussion paper outlining the current system issues for graduate students with disabilities  To produce information and develop strategies to facilitate the success of students with disabilities in graduate programs 12NEADS Summer 2013

13 Project Goals  To develop recommendations for the continued improvement of graduate experience for students with disabilities, that can be translated into policy at an institutional, provincial, or national level  Long term: To develop “tool-based” approaches for students, faculty and institutions to use in addressing issues faced by graduate students with disabilities 13NEADS Summer 2013

14 Project Scope  Comprehensive survey of graduate students with disabilities  Literature and environmental scan: Canada, US and international data – Demographics – Financial aid – Legislation  Institutional practices and policies 14NEADS Summer 2013

15 The Graduate Student with Disabilities Experience

16 Consensus on Definitions  Disability – WHO and OHRC definition  Distinction between “apparent” and “hidden” disabilities  Accommodation – a means of preventing and removing barriers that impede students with disabilities from participating fully in the educational environment in a way that is responsive to their own unique circumstances

17 Truth or Fiction?  “Academic accommodation for students with disabilities is best delivered using a ‘short term intervention’ model, and don’t change with time.”

18 Case Example  Student with compound disabilities in physical anthropology doctorate  Beginning of program  Fieldwork  Lab-based follow-up research  Thesis writing and defense

19 Accommodation is an Iterative Process  Everything evolves with time – A student’s disability(ies) – A student’s research program – A student’s environment  Accommodation cannot be “delivered” in a single intervention and be expected to succeed  Important to consider accommodation as a long- term process framework, requiring continuous monitoring, feedback and evaluation

20 “Appropriate Accommodation”  Appropriate accommodation – Defined iteratively – Dependent upon a student’s research, environment, disability and needs at any given point – What may be necessary at the beginning of the program may not be appropriate at the half-way point

21 Fiction  “Academic accommodation for students with disabilities is best delivered using a ‘short term intervention’ model, and don’t change with time.”  Students may not recognize this themselves – Focus on coursework accommodations – Unaware that they could be accommodated to do research

22 Truth or Fiction?  “Accommodation” = “Crisis Intervention”

23 Case Example  Student with compound disabilities, including mental health  Student is registered with disability services office and has a long-term accommodation package  Student requires crisis intervention in the research environment during a mental health episode

24 Case example  The crisis intervention may lead to changes in the accommodations package for the student – The crisis intervention itself is NOT an accommodation

25 Case Example #2  For a student who chooses to NOT disclose first, the mental health episode is unexpected and acts as the disclosure  Crisis intervention is now the first point of contact of the student with the institution’s service provision system  Accommodation spins out of crisis intervention

26 Fiction  “Accommodation” = “Crisis Intervention”

27 Truth or Fiction?  “Accommodations for graduate students with disabilities contravene the essential requirements of a graduate program.”

28 Essential Requirements  "Essential requirements of a course or program refer to the knowledge and skills that must be acquired or demonstrated in order for a student to successfully meet the learning objectives of that course or program" (Rose, 2009).

29 Essential Requirements  Essential requirements are those skills required for qualification in the discipline.  Defined by two factors: – Skills that must be necessarily demonstrated in order to meet the objectives of a course – Skills that must be demonstrated in a prescribed manner

30 Essential Requirements for Graduate Education  “General” Essential Requirements (applicable across all disciplines)  Discipline-Specific Essential Requirements  Technical Essential Requirements  “Philosophy of graduate education” issue – what are the universal definitions of essential requirements?

31 Questions for Consideration  What is being tested?  What is the nature of the task?  Does it have to be done in only one way? – If so, why?  Will performing this task in an alternative manner ultimately interfere with the student’s successful performance in the discipline, program or course?

32 Essential Requirements and Accommodation  To appropriately adapt accommodations to essential requirements: – Clarify the essential requirements of the discipline and what assistance the student will require in order to meet these learning objectives – Clearly outline the role for the use of accommodations in the graduate setting

33 Measurement of Essential Requirements  It is extremely important to not confound the evaluation method with the actual competency.  For example, if a student must understand how to design, interpret, analyze and troubleshoot a scientific experiment (“competency”), does this mean that the student must perform the experiment unaided (“measurement”)?

34 Accommodations Appropriately Applied  Appropriate accommodations will enable students to meet the essential requirements of the program successfully, without impact on academic standards or essential requirements  Although compromising the essential requirements of a course or program can be grounds for denying accommodation requests, the institution must be able to demonstrate how the course or program will be compromised through the provision of accommodations.

35 Fiction  “Accommodations for graduate students with disabilities contravene the essential requirements of a graduate program.”

36 Truth or Fiction?  “Accommodations for graduate students with disabilities negatively impact the academic integrity of the graduate program.”

37 Academic Integrity Issues  A student has violated academic integrity if they are guilty of research misconduct, either inadvertently or through deliberate action  Research Misconduct – Data falsification – Data fabrication – Plagiarism – Other questionable research practices – Definition in constant evolution

38 The Academic Integrity Challenge  Plagiarism is the most challenging issue with respect to disability-related accommodation  Easy to envision scenarios where essential requirements and academic integrity are synonymous

39 Do Students Identify with Academic Integrity Issues? % Answering YES Academic Integrity Standards RCR Standards Intellectual Property Standards Student awareness of departmental policies 79%69%58% Student awareness of institutional policies 86%77%62% Students trained 68%66%46%

40 Do Students Identify with Academic Integrity Issues? % Answering YES Academic Integrity Standards RCR Standards Intellectual Property Standards Students informed of impact of disability? 10%12%10% Objections raised about ability to meet standards? 12%9%4% When training occurred Beginning/Ori entation Year 1Not Applicable

41 “Have you experienced any academic integrity or intellectual property challenges due to your disability?”

42 Are Accommodation/AI Issues Real?  Students not aware of any issues, and students are not experiencing any issues – Student offense at the notion that disability impacts academic integrity  Perception on the part of faculty and administrators is different  If issues really exist, where are they coming from, and why do students not know of them?

43 Solutions: Student-Directed  Provide appropriate training to the student, so that they understand the relevant issues;  Work with the faculty/administrators and the DSO to understand the potential interfaces between accommodation profile and research misconduct guidelines;  Clarify expectations around research misconduct with the student, in order to ensure that they are appropriately aware and informed of any concerns and their responsibilities/obligations in addressing these issues with the faculty and department;

44 Solutions: Directed toward Faculty/Administrators  Provide appropriate training to faculty/administrators, so that they understand the relevant issues;  Work with the student and the DSO to understand the potential interfaces between their accommodation profile and research misconduct guidelines;  Clarify expectations around research misconduct with the student, in order to ensure that they are appropriately aware and informed of any concerns and their responsibilities/obligations in addressing these issues with the faculty and department;

45 Solutions  Ensure that, through this effort, there are no contradictions in the specific application of institutional academic integrity/IP policies between the undergraduate and graduate environments (this is particularly relevant if the student is planning on doing their undergraduate and graduate degrees at the same institution).

46 Fiction? … Probably more of a (mis- )Perception  Accommodations for graduate students with disabilities negatively impact the academic integrity of the graduate program.”

47 Truth or Fiction  “Accommodations for graduate students with disabilities are resource-intensive” – Cost – Time – Human Resources

48 Accommodations and Undue Hardship  The “duty to accommodate” requires that accommodation be provided in a manner that “most respects the dignity of the person, if to do so does not create undue hardship.”  Only three elements may be considered in assessing whether an accommodation would cause undue hardship: cost; outside sources of funding, if any; and, health and safety requirements, if any.

49 Undue Hardship  The institution cannot argue undue hardship based on: – business inconvenience – employee morale – third-party preference – collective agreements or contracts

50 Cost of Accommodation COST EASE OF APPLICATION FREQUENCY OF REQUEST COMPLEX MULTIPLE ACCOMMODATIONS PHYSICAL ACCESSIBILITY HR AND ASSISTANTS TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS SOFTWARE/IT SOLUTIONS STUDY FLEXIBILITY QUIET STUDY SPACE

51 Fiction  “Accommodations for graduate students with disabilities are resource-intensive.” – Cost – Time – Human Resources

52 The Case for Appropriate Accommodations ESSENTIAL PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS ACADEMIC INTEGRITY ISSUES COST APPROPRIATE ACCOMMODATIONS

53 Truth or Fiction?  “Working with a graduate student with a disability is extra work”

54 Student/Supervisor Interaction  Students will meet regularly with their thesis supervisor(s) around research matters  Students will meet rarely, if ever, with their thesis supervisor(s) around career development or their disability  Consistent with the general population

55 Student/Supervisor Relationship  Four major perspectives: – Great supervisors, chosen because of how well they will respond to disability issues and the potential for a strong working relationships – Majority of students who disclosed – Best-case scenario – 87% of student respondents indicated a good working relationship with their supervisors – 83% of students who disclosed had supervisors who were understanding of their disability – 80% of students who disclosed had supervisors willing to assist with accommodations

56 Student/Supervisor Relationship  Four major perspectives: – Difficult working relationship – Student comments clear that the relationship difficulties may not have been because of the disability – Some supervisors difficult to work with, period

57 Student/Supervisor Relationship  Four major perspectives: – Students who have not yet disclosed/interacted with a supervisor – Students not yet long enough in the program to observe the consequences of not disclosing – In fairness, many students will not disclose and not have a challenge because they find ways to be accommodated without the supervisor knowing

58 Student/Supervisor Relationship  Four major perspectives: – Students who have had their supervisor’s perspectives change after the disability is identified – Protection of anti-disclose has backfired

59 Mentorship  Faculty have an important mentorship role to play towards students with disabilities in graduate programs – Where there is a direct one-on-one relationship between the student and the supervisor – Where the mentorship relationship is formalized to a significant degree.

60 Student Success  Students succeed with… – …faculty who are more willing to be engaged and take an interest in the student’s success.  Students fail with…  …faculty who present as indifferent, unsure, discriminatory or outright hostile, to the point where the student may simply leave the program, or pursue legal options.  NOT always a disability issue

61 What Students Want from Mentors  A faculty member who is open-minded about the inclusion of disability in the graduate environment, and who demonstrates this open-mindedness in the course of their interaction with the student;  A champion or advocate, who is able to help them navigate the discipline, as well as the interface with the academic environment, in a way that the disability services staff may not be able to;

62 What Students Want from Mentors  A faculty member who demonstrates creativity and willingness to critically think about the interface between disability and graduate education; and,  A faculty member who is relatable, approachable and responsive to student interaction.

63 Qualities of Good Faculty Mentors  Being proactive: Faculty members ought to be willing to reach out and engage the student on his or her own terms, as opposed to waiting for the student to come to them with a crisis.  Being responsive: Mentors must respond to student engagement in a timely manner.

64 Qualities of Good Faculty Mentors  Being open-minded: Faculty members ought to demonstrate an inclusive mindset with respect to the involvement of students with disabilities in the sciences and science labs.  Being creative: Mentors who demonstrate creativity in thinking about issues faced by their mentees in the context of their disability, and are more willing to critically think about adapting the essential requirements of the program to the student are more likely to have success.

65 Fiction  “Working with a graduate student with a disability is extra work” – The best practices around clarifying expectations, communication and mentorship are universal: They should be implemented for all students, not just students with disabilities

66 Key Role of Graduate Faculty  Faculty members are on the front line of providing graduate education – Attitudes and willingness to provide reasonable accommodation key to student success  Priorities and behaviours of faculty correlated with quality of student experience  The poorest student-faculty interaction profiles can lead to a student’s withdrawal from the program

67 Key Role of Graduate Faculty  Take steps to include students with disabilities in program activities;  Accept a student’s request for accommodation in good faith (even when the request does not use any specific formal language), unless there are legitimate reasons for acting otherwise;

68 Key Role of Graduate Faculty  Take an active role in ensuring that alternative approaches and possible accommodation solutions are investigated, and canvass various forms of possible accommodation and alternative solutions as part of the duty to accommodate;  Maximize a student’s right to privacy and confidentiality, including only sharing information regarding the student’s disability with those directly involved in the accommodation process.

69 The accessible graduate environment…  …Doesn’t yet exist! – “Making it up as we go along”  Opportunity for faculty to develop their own solutions and adapt them to their particular student’s needs  Need to be flexible, solution oriented and creative in designing an appropriate graduate thesis project and environment

70 The Need for Collaboration GRADUATE STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES GRADUATE SUPERVISORS GRADUATE SSDs, DEANS, ACADEMIC DEPARTMENTS DISABILITY SERVICE PROVIDERS

71 Recommended Best Practices  Establish a Framework of Expectations – Between student and supervisor, and inclusive of DSO, financial aid, department, FGS – Outlines and addresses solutions for any major issues identified during the intake process – Universal best practice – can be adapted from Independent Development Plan framework extant in the United States

72 Recommended Best Practices  Establish a Long-term Intervention Team – Membership includes student, supervisor, DSO, financial aid staff, FGS, department and other relevant institutional stakeholders – Mandate to address the long-term accommodation needs of the student in the context of their program, and to collaboratively identify solutions

73 Recommended Best Practices  Improve Existing Materials on Student/Faculty Interaction – Include sections on how to handle disclosure, the potential negative consequences of not disclosing, and how to identify receptive mentors – Provide training on interacting with graduate students with disabilities to new graduate faculty

74 Recommended Best Practices  Enhance Student Appreciation of the Nuances of Graduate Education – Pre-application workshops on the nature of graduate education – Explaining the differences between graduate and undergraduate education – The role of disclosure in graduate education

75 Recommended Best Practices  Establish Institutional Accommodations Fund – Applicable to graduate students and postdoctoral fellows with disabilities – Able to cover most low-cost accommodations – Need-based application process – Mechanism to investigate larger funding requirements – Engagement of tricouncil agencies on accommodations funding as part of SSHRC, NSERC, CIHR awards

76 Acknowledgements  Council of Ontario Universities  Adaptech Research Network  “Making Science Labs Accessible” Study Team  Graduate Taskforce Membership  NEADS Board Members – Graduate Experience Committee

77 Thanks for participating! Questions and Discussion?

78 NEADS Since 1986  National Educational Association of Disabled Students  Cross-disability  National charitable organization NEADS Summer 2013

79 79 About NEADS Vision: Post-secondary students with disabilities experience fully accessible and inclusive education and employment Mission: Through leadership, innovation and collaboration NEADS delivers research, education and resources to advance full access and inclusion to education and employment.

80 80 NEADS Areas Of Focus As the national voice of students with disabilities, NEADS is a resource in the areas of: student finance, student experience in class and on campus, and student employment NEADS Summer 2013

81 NEADS In Action Student Finance: 1.NEADS Scholarship Program 2.www.disabilityawards.ca 3.Making Cents Of Your Student Finances workshops NEADS Summer 2013

82 NEADS In Action Student Experience In Class And On Campus: 1.Information and referrals 2.the Campus Disability Services web resource 3.Enhancing Accessibility Guide 4.Mental Health project 5.Skills To Success workshops 6.Graduate Experience Project & Taskforce NEADS Summer 2013

83 NEADS In Action Student Employment: 1.Strategies To Employment student workshops 2.Career Centre Outreach project / workshops 3.Learn To Think Like An Employer student workshops NEADS Summer 2013


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