Essential components of an academic course

Contributed by Jeanne Lindell, Head of Disability Services:

Identifying the essential components of a course or program plays a critical role in determining whether or not an individual meets all the necessary objectives and whether or not a disability related accommodation fundamentally alters a course or program.

Disability Services (DS) staff have begun talking more to faculty about essential components. So you’re looking for more information about what essential components are or how to determine them, look no further! Well, actually, please do continue reading.

Important questions to ask when assessing a course or program’s essential objectives and components include:

  • What is the purpose of the program or course?
  • What outcome variables are absolutely required of all participants?

 

Specifically for a course:

  • What academic skills must be demonstrated?
  • What percentage of the subject-area knowledge must be mastered?
  • What specific knowledge, principles, or concepts must be mastered?

 

Specifically for a program:

  • What skills or competencies will be needed in the field after                        graduation?
  • What are the requirements for licensing or professional accreditation?
  • What methods of instruction are non-negotiable, and why?
  • What methods of assessing outcome variables are absolutely necessary, and why?
  • What are acceptable levels of performance for these measures?

Essential components must be met with or without reasonable accommodations. Non-essential components are those for which alternate methods or products may be substituted. In discerning appropriate accommodations, DS staff rely on faculty to know their course’s essential components. DS staff may discuss alternate methods or products with faculty that would equally assess students’ mastery of the essential components but will allow them to demonstrate what they know. An example would be allowing an oral instead of written assessment (unless writing is itself an essential component of the course).

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This information has been adapted from Brown University’s Accessibility websitehttp://www.brown.edu/campus-life/support/accessibility-services/.

Americans with Disabilities Act – Fast Facts for Faculty

I have procrastinated writing this post about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) , not because the information does not need to be shared, but because there is already great information available. Therefore, I have decided not to duplicate:

  • What is the ADA? The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. You can find general information at the ADA National Network.
  • What does the ADA mean for Hope? Title III of the ADA covers private institutions and ensures equal access to post-secondary education. This includes all aspects of college, including academics, programs, services, housing, and student life.
  • What should we know about the rights, responsibilities, and roles of institutions and students? The ADA Coordinator’s office at Ohio State University has a lot of great information about the ADA and the accommodation process for faculty as well as students. If you click on the link above to browse, also check out the Rights and Responsibilities.
  • You may not already know that faculty have the right to request verification that a student needs an accommodation for a disability. This verification can only be done through the Disability Services office, and students can register by completing a Request for Accommodations form.
  • The American Psychological Association has developed Toolkits of valuable information for both students with disabilities and faculty. While the information is geared toward those in the social sciences, Toolkit II and Toolkit III provide information relevant to all disciplines.