Hudson Valley And UConn Pair Up For Better Access
CONTACT: Jeff Foley (518) 629-8085 or Sarah Boggess (518) 629-8071
FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Tuesday, May 1, 2001
Hudson Valley Community College, along with
20 other higher-education institutions across the United States, is currently
involved in a partnership with the University of Connecticut. Working together
on a project called "Universal Design for Instruction," the colleges are
planning to assist faculty and administrators who want to enhance instruction
for all college students, including a growing number of students with cognitive
disabilities (e.g., learning disabilities and attention deficits) and other
The "Universal Design for Instruction" project
was formed two years ago, when UConn received a federal grant. The ultimate
goal of the project is to create a Web site called FacultyWare.com.
"The Web site will be available to faculty
all over the world," said Dr. Joan McGuire, a UConn professor and co-project
director. "At the heart of the site will be products submitted by faculty,
which they have found to be effective and helpful in all areas of teaching."
Hudson Valley's instructors have been asked to submit
products for possible inclusion on the Web site, which is slated to be
up and running by 2002.
"The objective of the ‘Universal Design for
Instruction' project is to improve teaching ability to allow for access
to a broader range of students," said John Buono, president of Hudson Valley
Community College. "An ever-growing percentage of our population is non-traditional
and would benefit from non-traditional teaching methods."
According to a Chronicle of Higher Education
study, from 1978 to 1998, the percentage of full-time college students
with disabilities rose from 2.3 to 9.8. Students with learning disabilities
make up the biggest portion of that group, accounting for 3.5 percent of
the overall population.
Among the major barriers faced by students
with learning disabilities, as identified by the "Universal Design for
Instruction" project, are: unclear expectations; difficulty attaining accommodations;
difficulty obtaining textbooks in an accessible format; and difficulty
with note taking during class lectures. Additional barriers include: the
stigma of accommodations; self-disclosure concerns; faculty teaching styles;
and heavy workloads on disability services offices.
"We have laws in place, we have support services
in place, but as we talk with students, we discover that, in terms of learning,
there are still barriers in place," said Dr. Sally Scott, an assistant
professor at UConn and project coordinator.
With that in mind, FacultyWare.com will feature
multimedia instructional products such as video clips, audiotapes and documents,
all contributed by instructors. These will be available free of charge
to fellow instructors around the world.
As an example of the type of product that might
be found at FacultyWare.com, Dr. Scott described a video clip that features
a molecular biology professor talking about his experience with cooperative
learning. The professor explains that the day after giving his students
a test, he divides them into groups of seven or eight and re-tests them.
If, as a group, they score better than the highest individual score in
each group, they all receive the higher score.
The hope is that instructors will download
information such as this and, if they feel it will work, apply it.
"When we look at the community college population
in particular, and we see how diverse it's become – we have learning disabled
students, students of different ethnicities – we have learners on campus
who don't learn through traditional teaching methods," said Bob Falle,
facilitator of Hudson Valley's Access Project Team, which was established
in 1999 to improve access for students with disabilities. "That's where
the ‘Universal Design for Instruction' project comes in. This project and
the ensuing Web site will help us figure out the best ways to make learning
possible for everyone."
Hudson Valley Community College, located in
Troy, offers more than 50 degree and certificate programs in four academic
divisions; Business; Engineering and Industrial Technologies; Health Sciences;
and Liberal Arts and Sciences. One of 30 community colleges in the State
University of New York system, Hudson Valley Community College has an enrollment
of more than 9,000 students each year, and is known as a leader in distance
learning initiatives and worker retraining.