Click here for information of how to help your students succeed in an online, remote environment!
How does a student become eligible for services?
In order to determine eligibility for an academic adjustment/auxiliary aid, the student must register at Center for Access and Success (CAS) and provide documentation of a disability. Visit Documentation Guidelines for explicit details.
Make your course "accessibility-friendly."
Include a statement in your course syllabus welcoming students with accessibility issues. This sends the message that Umass Dartmouth values individual difference, diversity, and supports an inclusive learning environment. It also normalizes the accommodation process and informs students of a valuable resource to enhance the educational experience and help with retention.
Below can be included to notify students of the Center for Access & Success:
Umass Dartmouth is committed to providing equal to all of our students and be compliant with the legal mandates expressed in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
If you have a documented disability or chronic health condition and require accommodations to obtain equal access in this course, please call the Center for Access & Success at 508.999.8711 to make an appointment.
You may also want to notify students that if they have emergency medical information that they wish to share with you, or need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, to please inform you.
How to Accommodate Various Learning Styles - This is also a new section of our Faculty Resources that will provide you with some basic information about the different learning styles that you encounter in your students, and how best to both recognize and accommodate them in your classroom.
1. Visual learners
How to recognize visual learners in your class: Someone with a preference for visual learning is partial to seeing and observing things, including pictures, diagrams, written directions and more. This is also referred to as the “spatial” learning style. Students who learn through sight understand information better when it’s presented in a visual way. These are your doodling students, your list makers and your students who take notes.
How to cater to visual learners: The whiteboard is your best friend when teaching visual learners! Teachers should create opportunities to draw pictures and diagrams on the board, or ask students to doodle examples based on the topic they’re learning. Teachers catering to visual learners should regularly make handouts and use presentations. Visual learners may also need more time to process material, as they observe the visual cues before them. So be sure to give students a little time and space to work through the information.
2. Auditory learners
How to recognize auditory learners in your class: Auditory learners tend to learn better when the subject matter is reinforced by sound. These students would much rather listen to a lecture than read written notes, and they often use their own voices to reinforce new concepts and ideas. These are the students who like to read out loud to themselves, aren’t afraid to speak up in class and are great at verbally explaining things. Additionally, they may be slower at reading and may repeat things a teacher tells them.
How to cater to auditory learners: Since these students can sometimes find it hard to keep quiet for long periods of time, get your auditory learners involved in the lecture by asking them to repeat back new concepts to you. Ask questions and let them answer. Invoke group discussions so your auditory and verbal processors can properly take in and understand the information they’re being presented with. Watching videos and using music or audiotapes are also helpful ways to engage with auditory learners.
3. Kinesthetic learners
How to recognize kinesthetic learners in your class: Kinesthetic learners or “tactile” learners learn through experiencing or doing things. They like to get right in the thick of things by acting out events or using their hands to touch and handle in order to understand concepts. These are the students who might struggle to sit still, might be good at sports or like to dance, need to take breaks when studying and might not have great handwriting.
How to cater to kinesthetic learners: The best way teachers can help these students learn is by getting them moving. Teachers should instruct students to act out a certain scene from a history lesson they’re teaching. Additionally they should encourage these students by incorporating movement into lessons: pacing to help memorize, learning games that involve moving around the classroom or having students write on the whiteboard as part of an activity.
Once these students can physically sense what they’re studying, abstract ideas and difficult concepts will be easier to understand.
4. Reading/writing learners
How to recognize reading/writing learners in your class: According to the VARK Modalities theory developed by Fleming and Mills in 1992, reading/writing learners prefer to learn through written words. While there is some overlap with visual learning, these types of learners are drawn to expression through writing, reading articles on the internet, writing in diaries, looking up words in the dictionary and searching the internet for just about everything.
How to cater to reading/writing learners: This is probably the easiest learning style to cater to since most of the educational system provides lots of opportunities for writing essays, doing research online and reading books. Allow plenty of time for these students to absorb information through the written word, and give them opportunities to get their words out on paper as well.
Universal Design is a framework for designing educational environments that enable all learners to gain knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for learning. By incorporating supports for particular students, it is possible to improve learning experiences for everyone.
Universal Design is the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability. An environment (or any building, product, or service in that environment) should be designed to meet the needs of all people who wish to use it. This is not a special requirement, for the benefit of only a minority of the population. It is a fundamental condition of good design. If an environment is accessible, usable, convenient and a pleasure to use, everyone benefits. By considering the diverse needs and abilities of all throughout the design process, universal design creates products, services and environments that meet peoples' needs. Simply put, universal design is good design.
Helping a Student in Distress -
Why Students Encounter Stress
Students encounter stress for a variety of reasons. Academics, family problems, social situations, work, and financial concerns are just some of the sources of stress. While most students cope successfully with the demands of college life, for some the pressures become overwhelming and unmanageable.
The inability to cope effectively with emotional stress poses a serious threat to a student's overall functioning. The expression of interest and concern by a faculty or staff member may be a critical factor in helping a struggling student reestablish the emotional equilibrium necessary for success in a university environment.
Your willingness to respond to students in distress will undoubtedly be influenced by your personal style and your particular beliefs about the limits of responsibility for helping students mature, both emotionally and intellectually. Some students may be more open to assistance than others. In addition, factors such as class size or the nature of your relationship with the student may also have a substantial effect on the type of interactions you have. It's important to be realistic about what you can offer when making a decision about how you can help a student.
Understanding the Difference between a Student in Crisis and a Student Experiencing Stress
Student in Crisis
A crisis is a situation in which an individual's usual style of coping is no longer effective, and the emotional or physiological response begins to escalate. As emotions intensify, coping becomes less effective, until the person may become disoriented, non-functional, or attempt harm. If a student is in a serious mental health crisis, you might see or hear the following:
Suicidal statements or suicide attempts
Written or verbal threats, or attempted homicide or assault
Destruction of property or other criminal acts
Extreme anxiety resulting in panic reactions
Inability to communicate (e.g., garbled or slurred speech, disjointed thoughts)
Loss of contact with reality (e.g., seeing or hearing things that aren't there, expressing beliefs or actions at odds with reality)
Highly disruptive behavior (e.g., hostility, aggression, violence)
Students Experiencing Stress
Stress is a part of every student's life. However, there are some indicators that, when present over time, suggest that a student's stress level may be a cause for concern. In these circumstances, you might see or hear the following:
Uncharacteristic changes in academic performance
Uncharacteristic changes in attendance at class or meetings
Depressed or lethargic mood
Hyperactivity and/or rapid speech
Marked change in personal dress, hygiene, eating and/or sleeping routines
Repeatedly falling asleep in class
Requests for special consideration, especially if the student is uncomfortable talking about the circumstances prompting the request
New or recurrent behavior that pushes the limits of decorum and that interferes with the effective management of your class, work team, etc.
Unusual or exaggerated emotional response to events
Helping a Student in Distress - As a faculty or staff member interacting daily with students, you are in an excellent position to recognize behavior changes that characterize the emotionally troubled student. Please visit UMD’s Counseling Center for more information on how to recognize some of the signs of a student in distress.
In the occasion a department holds a special event or conference in which service providers are needed to give people with disabilities access to content, the Center for Access & Success will put forward their best efforts obtaining the proper person. However, it is the hosting department, club, or organization's financial and ultimate responsibility to provide the accommodation.
Engaging Students Remotely During Class
- Reading the Room
- Amplify your course with guest speakers – inviting experts or guests to join your Zoom class can help promote engagement, enthusiasm, diversity, and inclusion.
- Encourage Community
- Students are more likely to pay attention if they are on camera, and the sense of presence will be enhanced if everyone shows their face via webcam. Consider asking students to turn on their video as a part of participation. It is also easier to engage with the class if you can see them.
- If a student feels uncomfortable sharing their living circumstances, remind them about the virtual backgrounds, facing their computer to a wall, or putting up a sheet.
- Breakout Groups
- Use Zoom breakout rooms to promote discussions and a change of pace from lectures.
- Amp up your energy
- Professors who are energetic aids students to stay engaged and listen during class.
- Bring a sense of enthusiasm into your voice during your lectures.
- Use compelling audio/visual examples to strengthen students’ understanding of terms and concepts.
- Less is more when it comes to technology
- Familiarize yourself with a handful of important features of Zoom. It’s often better to use a few tools well than using too many tools ineffectively. Focus on learning as much as you can with Zoom to enhance your lessons and prevent disruptions during your lectures.
- Structure your Teaching Space
- Make sure your teaching space is set up to match your teaching style. This will improve you and your students’ experience. An informal setting can help create a personal feel, and it will also help students feel connected to you.
- Reminding students that the quantity and the quality of their chat comments contribute to their participation grade can help limit frivolous chat and improve the sophistication and quality of the chat threads.
- Encourage students to use Zoom Chat to participate. Chat can draw in students who have great ideas to contribute yet may be somewhat quiet during discussions or debates.
Set Norms and Expectations
- Set Classroom Norms
- Set clear expectations for student participation during virtual lectures.
- Inform students that success in the online class will depend on the same commitment that is brought to the physical classroom (e.g., adopt same rules and norms; take notes; participate by asking and answering questions).
- Inform students of your expectations – join the course in a quiet place, turn on video camera whenever possible, mute your microphone unless student is speaking, close browser tabs that are not required for class.
- Think about the cell phone policy. Students can easily access their cell phones during Zoom classes. Reminding students of this policy is beneficial for participation. Also remind students to have their phones on silent or turned off.
- Be Transparent and let students know what to how you intend to communicate and how often.
- Establish a way for students to contact you outside of the remote class. Be clear about how they can contact your (e.g., text, email, phone), or if they can set up a private Zoom meeting with you and during what times your available. Students should also know when to expect your response.
- Students have a range of abilities, and you may have students with learning or sensory disabilities. Consider employing some of the practices below.
- Assistive technologies (e.g., screen readers, magnifiers, etc) are designed to work with text. If you send images to your students, include textual descriptions so a student can follow along.
- If you use video chat such as Zoom, create a transcript or closed captioning throughout the session.
- Students may need additional processing time – try not to expect everyone will understand everything after being told one time. Share videos, images, transcripts, etc., for students to examine afterwards.
- Select accessible resources - Use closed captioning and audio-generated transcripts to ensure equitable instruction for everyone. This allows students with different learning styles to benefit from a combination of written, spoken, and visual material.
- Choose videos from sources like YouTube that have closed captioning options. You can also choose videos/images (you can also provide this yourself) that have a text description included.
- Be an Advocate
- If a student does need assistance, direct them to UMASS Dartmouth’s Center for Access and Success.
- Take care of yourself and your students!
- Take breaks and encourage your students to stretch periodically! This will help everyone remain comfortable and keep students engaged.
- Check in – Ask students how they are feeling? If it may be time for a quick break.
Two Things to Keep in Mind During your Lecture
- Watch your pace and keep an eye on students’ comprehension and engagement. Check in with students more frequently than you would in a physical classroom, to make sure that they follow the material and remain engaged.
- It helps students to remain engaged if they can see your face as you present your lecture. You can set up your devices so that even when you’re using ‘screen share’ students can see your face at the same time as the material being displayed.
- TIP: You can see your students at the same time while you share your screen. You can log into Zoom on two devices at the same time. This allows you to share your screen on one device (laptop) while having the gallery view of your students on another device (tablet).
More Tips for Professors
- Be clear on your assignments
- Students can find accessing and understanding assignments and notes online confusing. Clearly let them know what they have to do each week, when the work is due, and how much it counts toward their final grade.
- Provide ongoing Feedback
- Providing feedback is important in class, whether the class is physically or remotely attended. Teaching online makes it difficult to connect to students, and providing ongoing feedback is a good way to establish a personal connection.
- Offering constructive feedback regular helps students identify behaviors or skills they need to improve. It also makes them feel part of the learning community.
- Create an open forum or discussion board so students can support and mentor each other.
- Break it Up
- Take a break during class. Allow for students to stretch or take a 10 minute break during class.
- Mix in games, discussions, and other activities to break up the instructional time. This can not only help students stay engaged but it also helps them think about the content in different ways.
- Create Engaging Quizzes/Games
- Kahoot (Free) – Make it into a game or a quiz
- Activity can be played on any online device. Professors can develop questions and have students answer the questions. Students can create gamer tags (or their own unique name) instead of their real names and race to become top ranked and the champion of the game (quiz option will differ in set-up). This encourages students to answer questions correctly by awarding points based on speed and accuracy.
- Quizizz (Free) - Similar to Kahoots
- Build ‘Outside Class’ Spaces
- Remote classrooms prevent much of the community-building that occurs before, during, or after the traditional classes. A sense of community that is usually developed between students does not occur as often in remote classes. Create ‘outside spaces’ that are free from content and assessment.
- Make a “café” discussion board where students can talk freely about current events or common interests.
- Create a social media page for the class where ideas can be shared.
- Watch a virtual event together and discuss it afterwards.
- Have a backup plan!
- Know how to troubleshoot! Technology can be very tricky at times. For most things, try turning it off and back on again. Check the connections. Is everything plugged in? Is the WiFi connected? Try searching for fixes online, and consider when you will need to reach out to the IT department.
- Communicate to Students – how will you do this if technology or WiFi fails? Set up procedures for what students should expect after an incident.
- Use your time – during class time if technology does work – record your lecture and have your students listen/watch it before next class.
- Know who to call – If you can’t fix the problem, learn who the IT department contact of UMASS, or do you know someone that could help? Make sure you have a contact in place so you can quickly get the problem situated.