Summary of Results from Grants from the Office of Postsecondary Education


Since 1992, DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) at the University of Washington (UW) has served to increase the success of people with disabilities in academic programs and careers. The efficacy of DO-IT practices has been recognized with numerous awards, shared in more than one hundred articles in the press, and documented by both student success and institutional change. Among its many grant-funded activities, it has had three U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE)-funded projects DO-IT Prof (grant #P333A990042), DO-IT Admin (#P333A020044), and AccessCollege (#P333A050064). Each new project progressively applies lessons learned in prior project(s), refines and continues the earlier activities, and expands the scope to include new content that reaches a broader audience. The results of these projects are summarized below.

Project Activities

DO-IT Prof

In 1999, DO-IT implemented professional development to prepare postsecondary faculty and administrators to fully include students with disabilities in courses. DO-IT Prof partners, selected in a competitive process, represented twenty-three postsecondary institutions, each paired with a local collaborator school with different demographics, resulting in a diverse group of twenty-three four-year and twenty-three two-year institutions. Project partners

Training - Staff and partners delivered 250 training sessions to 6,500 faculty, administrators, and teaching assistants to help them understand relevant legislation, learn about campus resources, apply universal design (UD) to instruction, and accommodate students with disabilities. Responding to the diverse content and scheduling needs of faculty, six training modules were created. They include a twenty-thirty minute overview for a departmental meeting, full-day workshops on specific topics, public television presentations, and web-based instruction.

Website - The Faculty Room developed in response to faculty needs, includes a searchable Knowledge Base of more than 200 questions and answers, case studies, and promising practices.

Publications and Videos - Eight thousand publications and videos on UD of instruction and accommodating students with disabilities were distributed; concise handouts provide teaching strategies; a comprehensive train-the-trainer curriculum includes an overview of research, presentation outlines, scripts, videos, visual aids, and reference materials for six models of professional development.

DO-IT Prof partners identified the need to increase the knowledge and skills of administrators and support staff in student service organizations (e.g., libraries, career services, registration offices, tutoring centers, computer labs) regarding UD, accommodations, and resources to make these services welcoming and accessible to students with disabilities.

DO-IT Admin

In 2002, DO-IT implemented DO-IT Admin to continue to refine and deliver training and resources to faculty, as well as create and deliver training and resources tailored to student service personnel. Most DO-IT Prof partners participated in DO-IT Admin; new partners from states not yet represented were selected through a competitive recruitment process and, as before, each of the twenty-three partners worked with a collaborator school.

Training - Using the six previously developed models of instruction and six new models, staff and partners delivered 200 presentations to 7,300 faculty and administrators.

Websites - The Student Services Conference Room was developed for student service staff; its Knowledge Base includes more than 200 articles. The Board Room was created for presidents, provosts, and other high-level administrators and includes sixty articles. In addition, the AccessDL website was created to help administrators make distance learning offerings accessible to students and instructors with disabilities and shares distance learning program accessibility indicators.

Publications and Videos - Twenty-four thousand publications and videos were distributed. Concise, targeted publications include checklists for applying UD to specific student services (e.g., career services). A comprehensive train-the-trainer notebook includes guidelines and materials for the delivery of six new models of professional development.

DO-IT Admin partners identified the need for increased efforts to ensure that institutions and professional organizations are welcoming and accessible to people with disabilities.

AccessCollege

AccessCollege continued to host and refine professional development activities for faculty and student service personnel and established more comprehensive interventions, such as the Summer Institute for Faculty and Academic Administrators; identified, validated, and applied campus accessibility indicators; and worked with professional organizations to implement measurable change in the accessibility of their conferences, publications, and websites. Project outcomes include the following:

Training - Staff and partners delivered 184 presentations to 7,300 faculty, student services personnel, and community stakeholders on campuses and at professional conferences nationwide.

Communities of Practice - Staff and partners developed ongoing communities of practice (CoPs) that focused on systemic change on twenty-two campuses nationwide.

Website - The Center for Universal Design in Education (CUDE) was created to promote the universal design of educational entities; the CUDE includes 200 searchable articles.

Publications - Videos and publications were created and more than 130,000 were distributed. Project staff edited a book, Universal Design in Higher Education: From Principles to Practice, published by Harvard Education Press. The forty-four authors include many leaders in OPE-funded projects; they synthesized research and shared specific applications of UD to instruction, information technology (IT), student services, and physical spaces. The project created concise publications and a train-the-trainer notebook, Building Capacity for a Welcoming and Accessible Postsecondary Institution.

Sample of Measures of Success

Awards

DO-IT's three OPE-funded projects have been recognized with numerous awards that include the Exceptional Program Award from the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD); achievement awards to DO-IT Prof and DO-IT Admin Teams for training faculty and student service personnel, respectively, from the Washington Association for Postsecondary Education and Disabilities (WAPED); six WAPED achievement awards to project staff and collaborators; the BizTech Accessibility award for making distance learning courses accessible to individuals with disabilities; and the Bright Idea Award from the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education (POD Network). Project success is also documented by positive outcomes as briefly summarized below.

Training

In a quasi-experimental 2X2 research design, AccessCollege Team members collected grade data for students in classes taught by faculty who received training and for students in classes taught by "matched" faculty who did not. The grades of students with and without disabilities in those two categories were compared both before and after the training period to gather evidence regarding the impact of faculty training on student success. In summary, the grades of students with disabilities in classes taught by faculty who received training increased more than for those in courses taught by untrained faculty whereas the performance of students without disabilities stayed about the same before and after training. This result brought the performance of students with and without disabilities to close to the same level in the post-training period. This pattern was not observed in the grades of untrained faculty, thus suggesting a positive impact of faculty training on the performance of students with disabilities. Details regarding the analysis are provided in the following paragraphs.

Data collection and analysis involved 6,550 grades from 269 classes taught by forty-two instructors who received training and fifty-five instructors who did not, but who taught comparable classes in the same department in the same institution during the same time period. Those forty-two instructors gave out 1,379 of these grades prior to the training they received (sixty-five of them to students with disabilities) and 1,457 of the grades after the training (ninety-five to students with disabilities). The comparison faculty gave out 1,611 of their grades prior to their colleagues' training and 103 after (102 and 129 of them, respectively, to students with disabilities).

A subset of this dataset was used for the 2 (training group) X2 (pre- or post-training) X2 (with or without documented disability) analysis. Only classes with at least one student with a documented disability were included in this analysis and, of these, only those with data collected from classes taught both before and after faculty training; and of these, only those with a matched comparison instructor whose classes also met these data requirements. After the application of these restrictions, 133 classes remained, yielding 264 grades for students with disabilities, and 3,066 grades for students without. Forty-six of these classes were taught by faculty who received training (eighteen of the classes were taught prior to the training; twenty-eight after), and eighty-seven of the classes were taught by matched comparison instructors (thirty-two of them prior to their match's training, and fifty-five after).

Class was the unit of analysis for the analysis. Thus, the analytic database consisted of the average grade point average (GPA) for students with disabilities and the average GPA for students without disabilities for each class. Figure 1 presents the change from pre-training to post-training in average course GPA for students with disabilities and for students without disabilities in courses taught by faculty who received training.

Trained faculty: Change in 
average GPA for students with a disability (SWD) or without (SWOD) after 
training. Specific data in following paragraph.

The average GPA of the students without disabilities stayed at about 2.6 or 2.7 pre-and-post faculty training, respectively. The average GPA of the students with disabilities in the same classes increased from an average of 1.8 to 2.5. Note that this change brought the average grades of students with disabilities close to that of students without disabilities. Analysis of data presented in this figure shows that, overall, the grades of the students with disabilities were significantly lower than those of their non-disabled classmates (F(1,41)=7.9; p<.01) and that the increase in average GPA from pre- to post- faculty training among the students with disabilities is unlikely to be due to chance: (F(1,41)=5.9; p<.05).

Figure 2 presents similar information for the classes taught by the matched comparison instructors who did not receive training.

Comparison (untrained 
faculty: Change in average GPA for students with a disability (SWD) or without 
(SWOD) after training period. Pretraining, SWOD average GPA was 2.8; posttraining it was 2.7. The 
average GPA of SWD was 2.6 pretraining and 2.4 posttraining.

Again, this figure shows that, overall, the average GPAs of the students with disabilities are significantly lower than those of their non disabled classmates (F(1,81)=5.7; p<.05). However, unlike the classes of the trained instructors, the lower grades of the students with disabilities did not improve to match those of their non-disabled classmates over the same time period. This result suggests that the training had a significant impact on the ability of the instructors to better teach their students with disabilities.

In AccessCollege faculty training surveys, 98% of faculty reported they planned to change at least one thing about their teaching from the ideas they learned in the training. Planned changes included the following:

Ten percent (10%) of participants reported other actions they intend to take, including those that impact their own teaching (e.g., offer alternate assignments that appeal to multiple intelligences and get feedback or input from students with disabilities in courses) and those that promote systemic change (e.g., encourage improved accessibility of online registration and other web pages, captioning of videos, and faculty and staff utilization of universal design principles).

Project Team members communicated with a sample of faculty members who participated in project training. These individuals reported changes that were a direct result of the training that suggest a project impact of making courses more welcoming and accessible to students with disabilities at participating campuses:

Listed below are examples of feedback from participants that document the high quality of these presentations and their impact on increasing the knowledge and skills of participants to better serve students with disabilities:

The following comments regarding presentations suggest a positive impact on participant behavior:

Presenters reported feedback that supports training resulted in positive changes at postsecondary institutions. Comments included:

An online course for faculty on universal design created during an earlier grant was also available as a resource on our AccessCollege website and continued to be offered by Team members during Years 1-4 of the project. In Years 3 and 4 of the project it garnered these responses from faculty about its positive impact related to their training in universal design:

Websites

Developed with extensive formative evaluation from stakeholders, project websites are organized into one collection; online instruments and partner feedback continue to assess their usefulness and identify potential improvements. Respondent comments include: "An excellent website of comprehensive resources that any instructor can have access to 24 hours a day!" and "I will be adding a link to your website The Faculty Room, from my department's website." The usefulness of these websites is also measured by the large numbers of visits they experience each month: 60,000 for The Faculty Room; 20,000 for The Student Services Conference Room; 5,000 for The Board Room; 16,000 for The Employment Office; 2,500 for The Veterans Center; and 12,000 for The Center for Universal Design in Education.

Systemic Change

Partner institutions reported systemic changes toward more inclusive campuses and professional organizations; some are shared online. They include policies to promote UD through faculty mentorships and training, disability-related statements for syllabi, accessible web and distance learning design, student technology fees used to purchase assistive technology, captioned videos on institutional web pages, the AccessCollege Campus Accessibility Indicators, and accessibility improvements of conferences.

Publications and Videos

Print- and web-based publications as well as video products were developed through an iterative process of formative evaluation that included individuals with disabilities. Evaluation instruments were also distributed with publications. The responses of recipients of project publications document their usefulness:

Feedback from recipients of the book developed from the cumulative efforts of DO-IT's OPE-funded projects, Universal Design in Higher Education: From Principles to Practice, document its high quality and usefulness. Specific comments include:

Summary

DO-IT's OPE-funded projects made a unique contribution in the field by

Data collected suggests that project activities

It is expected that, ultimately, efforts such as those employed in DO-IT Prof, DO-IT Admin, and AccessCollege benefit society by increasing participation in postsecondary academic and career fields and enhancing these fields with the talents and perspectives of people with disabilities. They help ensure that we support "the best ideas from the most capable researchers and educators" (Congressional Commission, 2000, p. 3).