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Faculty Attitudes and Practices Regarding Students with Disabilities: Two Decades After Implementati... - page 3 / 67





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faculty with more contact and teaching experience with students with disabilities had more positive attitudes and were more comfortable allowing accommodations than those with less experience (Fichten, Amsel, Bourdon, & Creti, 1988; Fonosch & Schwab, 1981; Satcher, 1992).

When faculty familiarity with special education disability legislation, experience with students with disabilities, and knowledge of support services on campus were examined, the reported results indicated mixed responses. For example, Baggett (1994) found that many faculty in a large state university often reported lack of familiarity with disability laws and university support services. Limited experience in teaching students with disabilities were also indicated. Aksamit et al. (1987) reported that faculty members had limited knowledge about students with learning disabilities. Leyser (1989), on the other hand, reported that a large majority of faculty members (85%) were familiar with special education legislation pertaining to the rights of individuals with disabilities. A larger percentage of the faculty indicated that they had contact with individuals with disabilities as well as experience in teaching college students with disabilities. About 80% were familiar with resources and services available on campus. Finally, many respondents indicated that they were knowledgeable about topics and issues in special education.

Overall, investigations regarding faculty attitudes toward making accommodations revealed that faculty members expressed a willingness to provide various teaching accommodations in their classrooms (Baggett, 1994; Houck, Asselin, Troutman, & Arrington, 1992; Leyser, 1989; Matthews, Anderson, & Skolnick, 1987; Nelson, Dodd, & Smith, 1990; Satcher, 1992). However, evidence from these investigations has also shown that faculty were generally less willing to allow exclusive extra credit; overlook misspellings, incorrect punctuation, and poor grammar; permit substitutions for required courses; or allow students to turn in tape recorded assignments (Matthews et al., 1987; Nelson et al., 1990; Satcher, 1992). As these researchers observed, faculty were willing to accommodate but not to the extent of what faculty perceived as lowering certain course standards.

Interestingly, in a recent study of perceptions of students with disabilities regarding the willingness of faculty to make accommodations, Hill (1996) reported that, on the average, students felt that the instructor's level of willingness to make accommodations was in the "good" to "excellent" range. In addition, the author found that students perceived their instructors as being very willing to make some accommodations while they were less supportive of some others, such as allowing students to do an extra credit assignment, allowing misspelling and incorrect punctuation without penalty, and allowing students to give oral/tape recorded presentations rather than written presentations.

Although empirical findings have been reported on faculty perceptions and practices concerning students with disabilities, further research including large samples is needed to examine their knowledge, attitudes, and classroom accommodations. There is also a need to ascertain whether there are changes over time in these attitudes and teaching practices. Such data will be necessary to guide the development and provision of needed accommodations and support services for these students and for professional

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