While “Accommodations and Universal Design: Supporting Access to Assessments in Higher Education” focused around using UD in College-level assessments, it also brought up many issues with  higher ed accommodations for students. Students often times choose not to disclose disabilities because of fear of different treatment from professors or fellow students, and because they want to see if they can achieve the same without requiring accommodations. However, these students can sometimes quickly find that they did need the accommodation and their grades suffer because of it.

This isn’t just true inside the classroom. While there has been a strong emphasis on learning outside of the classroom, particularly in the residence hall environment, there isn’t anything in place to disclose accommodations to the residence hall staff or to support student learning for those with disabilities in the residence halls. In the few instances where students decide to disclose to residence hall staff about their disabilities, this is rarely taken into consideration on a regular basis when planning educational activities, such as programming. This is why I have been working on my presentation about doing Universal Design in residence halls. Just as this article suggests, changing the environment and activities to be more accessible will make learning better for all of our students, especially in accommodating our students with disabilities.

Even though the focus this week was around assessment, and there isn’t much test-giving that goes on in a residence hall environment, I thought about this topic in terms of how we assess RAs performance. For instance, earlier this year, I gave my RAs a “pop quiz” during their staff meeting about some common rules at the main desk. I formatted this test off of ones that I had taken in High School: I read the questions, and they wrote down the answers, all within the time limit of how much time we could take during the staff meeting to complete the quiz. However, in retrospect, I realize that this wasn’t a very good way for me to assess whether they knew the information.

My greater concern is whether they know where the information is located at the main desk, rather than them having to memorize every little thing. Now that I think about it, it probably would have been better for me to provide them with a kind of “Take home exam” where they should provide the answers to the questions and where they would find it at the main desk. They could take as much time as they needed, and even explore the main desk to find the answers. While the exams I would give wouldn’t really have too much of a ethic question surrounding how it was given (unless the RAs just copied each others information, which wouldn’t really show me whether they had learned what I had hoped), I think that I would still be able to apply much of what was discussed on the CAST website in Chapter 7. I think that any opportunity I could take to make things more accessible to the user (in this case, the RA), would give me a better measurement of their knowledge.

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