Changing accommodations in transition: Students with disabilities and their experiences at university

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Parsons, Jeanette
transition , students with disabilities , accommodation , university
The transition from high school to university is one of the most significant that students with disabilities undergo in their academic career. Helping students make this transition successfully includes preparing them for accessing accommodations at university. While noting how the approval process differs, research to date has not detailed how student accommodations change as they transition from high school to university, or how these changes impact on their academic performance and experience at university. This doctoral thesis sought to address this gap. A retrospective cohort design was used to collect quantitative accommodation and academic data from 71 participants and qualitative data from a subset of 6 participants. To ensure precise comparison of high school and university academic accommodations, an Academic Accommodation Comparator Tool was created. Key findings of the thesis include: (a) disability labels and academic accommodations changed for students with disabilities as they transition from high school to university, (b) students received fewer accommodations and they were more likely to lose human assistance-type and modification-type accommodations at university, (d) despite being matched on key variables (i.e., admission average and gender), students with disabilities had a lower GPA and were more likely to fail a course in first year compared with non-disabled students, (e) some accommodations at university were associated with poorer academic performance, (f) the more accommodations students lost, the worse their academic performance at university, (g) despite these negative associations, students with disabilities were largely satisfied with the accommodation approval process and the accommodations they received at university. The thesis highlights practice implications for high schools and universities seeking to support the transition of students with disabilities and their success at university.
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