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Did You Know?

Negative faculty attitudes can create barriers for students with disabilities pursuing science, math, and engineering.

In a study of 60 graduates and undergraduates with disabilities pursuing science, mathematics and engineering (SME) at the University of Minnesota, three major barriers were commonly described among undergraduate students: 1) faculty attitudes regarding certain accommodations, 2) some aspects of the financial aid system, and 3) the disability itself and its limitations. Faculty attitudes that created barriers included discounting or refusing the accommodation, lowering grades for work done under accommodated conditions, insisting on personal details about the disabilities or disclosing the disability in class. Financial aid rules and requirements, particularly those requiring full course loads, were also problematic. Students felt carrying full course loads to meet these requirements often resulted in more course incompletes, course failures, or temporary withdrawals. Finally, students felt the variability in their disability and its management (e.g., changes in medication, hospitalizations, fatigue) often affected their academic performance and conflicted with academic schedules.

Seymour, E. & Hunter, A. (1998). Talking about disability: The education and work experience of graduates and undergraduates with disabilities in science, mathematics and engineering majors. Boulder, CO: University of Colorado.

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