Faculty Perspectives on Working with Students with Disabilities in Higher Education

Danielle Shine

Authors:  Danielle Shine, Candice Stefanou

Faculty Mentor: Candice Stefanou

College:  College of Agricultural and Life Sciences


Faculty at postsecondary institutions are working with students with disabilities at a higher rate in the last two decades than any before. This is because of an increase in students with disabilities pursuing and entering higher education. Because of this, and because of American with Disabilities Act Title II, faculty and universities must accommodate students with disabilities to provide equal access to higher education. This study assessed faculty perceptions of students with disabilities in higher education, faculty self-efficacy in working with these students, and faculty willingness to accommodate students with disabilities. The data was collected through an online survey that utilized validated instruments in the field. Correlations, t-tests and analyses of variance were conducted to determine relationships between variables and differences between groups. Professional development training was found to be an indicator of higher teacher self-efficacy and teacher self-efficacy was found to be related to more positive perceptions of and willingness to accommodate students with disabilities. These findings provide researchers with information relevant for future studies on differences in willingness to accommodate specific disabilities among college students and set the stage for the need for professional development on disability law and accommodating students with disabilities in higher education.

Poster Pitch

Click the video below to view the student's poster pitch.


Click the image to enlarge.
13 Responses
  1. Dr. Heidi Radunovich

    This is a really important topic, and I am so proud of you for doing this work! 🙂

  2. Candice Stefanou

    You did such thorough and thoughtful work on this! This is such an important topic for faculty and students with disabilities alike.

    1. Danielle Shine

      I couldn’t have done it without you, thank you for all your time and effort working with me. I am tremendously grateful for you as my thesis mentor!

  3. Kelly Moore

    Great job, Danielle! You have definitely made the most of the research opportunities available to you as an undergraduate. I have no doubt you are going to make an excellent PhD student in the Fall!

    1. Danielle Shine

      Thank you Dr. Moore. I appreciate the push from you and am so grateful for the opportunities I have had.

  4. Brittany Blake

    Hi Danielle,

    Your work provides very important implications for educators at the higher education level. Do you have ideas for future research? I think it would be interesting to see how these perceptions differ based on the type of disability ie learning, physical, hearing etc. I think it would also be interesting to see how faculty perceptions differ based on the subject they teach. It would be interesting to know if are differences in perceptions from science vs. non-science perceptions.

    1. Danielle Shine

      Hi Brittany, you bring up great ideas for future research. Yes, one idea we had for future research was to look at the differences in efficacy, perception and willingness to accommodate for specific type of disability. We had a few interesting results regarding these and whether the disability was “visible” or “invisible”, if that makes sense. It would be worthwhile to look into the differences seen in perceptions on visible, which would be considered physical disability or deafness or blindness, and invisible disabilities, which would be learning disabilities and mental illness. Looking at different colleges was something we also propose for future research, like you mentioned. Our sample did not produce enough respondents from each college to make clear statements about differing perceptions. We thought about how perceptions, efficacy and willingness might differ among the science-y colleges and the art-y or nonscience, like you specified.

      Thank you for your comment, I really appreciate you taking time to read through this.

  5. Dani Hayes

    Hi Danielle,

    This is an incredibly important topic, so I’ve glad to know there are people researching it right now. Could you explain what the validated instruments were that you used?

    1. Danielle Shine

      Hi Dani, thank you, it was definitely interesting to research. We used three validated instruments. The first one was the Accommodation of University Students with Disabilities Inventory (AUSDI) validated in 2004 by Wolman, McCrink, Rodriguez, & Harris-Looby. This inventory used sub-scales that measured faculty willingness to accommodate students with learning disabilities (eight items), deafness or blindness (eight items), mental health (six items), and physical disabilities (five items). We also used the Faculty Perspectives about Teaching and Working with Students with Disabilities inventory by Becker and Palladino (2016). his inventory had two sub-scales that measured faculty attitudes and experiences of working and teaching this population of students. The last inventory we used was the Patterns of Adaptive Learning Styles teaching efficacy scales by Midgley (2000). These teacher scales are typically used for K-12, however we adapted the scale for use in higher education. This inventory allowed us to look at faculty who reported having higher scores of efficacy and those who had lower scores and relate these efficacy scores to willingness and perceptions.

      I hope this helps answer your question. Let me know if I can further explain!