Accommodating students who "can't participate in discussion"

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Quote from: yellowtractor on February 08, 2013,  8:10:37 pm

Quote from: history_grrrl on February 08, 2013,  7:49:37 pm

Non-update: Nothing has happened yet, because the student has yet to contact me to discuss the issue. (I had already clarified with the disabilities office that this is a requirement; even the accommodation they want says "after discussion"). She did approach her TA, who told her to speak to me -- but still, nothing. I don't know what the student is thinking, but as far as I'm concerned, there will be no "retroactive" accommodation back to the beginning of term.

I would ignore the issue, and the student, until she does what she knows she needs to do.  But I'm mean.

+1. It's the student's responsibility to discuss accommodations with the instructor of record.

I've taught several students with a range of anxiety and panic disorders, and this does not strike me as an appropriate or reasonable accommodations.  Accommodations are not intended to be used as a license for skipping out on major course requirements.  My students with panic disorders have had flexibility on attendance. They've had note takers, or permission to record class.  They've had tutors.  But they still completed all assignments.  This strikes me like the student who had a notetaker, but assumed that his accommodations meant that he could skip class altogether.  I contacted DSS, who put a stop to that, because it is their job to protect the integrity of accommodations.  I'm not unsympathetic to panic or anxiety disorders, but if the student's mental health is so deteriorated that they cannot complete an activity that's a rather central part of college, it might be time to take a medical leave and address their health situation. 

I just ran across this article Introverted Kids Need to Learn to Speak Up at School and thought of this thread.

Polly, thanks for posting that link.

So the student came to see me today. She's a wreck. She was more together by the time we finished talking, but for the first 20 minutes, she was a mess. Teary, stressed -- honestly, she looked like she was on the verge of a breakdown.

She's a gen ed student, so no major. In response to gentle questioning, she told me that she's always been this way (completely freaked out at the prospect of having to talk in a group). Her mother has told her she was the same way when she was young but eventually "grew out of it." She never saw a counselor or got other help until she came to university (she's in her second year), when her TA in a science course (bless her or him!) suggested she visit the disabilities office. Now she gets counseling and is on medication, but it doesn't help very much. Yes, she really wants it to be different. No, she doesn't feel she's getting the help she needs to make it be different. Her parents aren't happy with the fact that she's getting treatment (!).

She thinks she can co-lead discussion because her partner is a friend and will help cover for her. She also feels comfortable with writing or typing her thoughts as the discussion happens. If she were a history major, I might feel differently about this -- but I really cannot see making her speak. I'll see what my chair has to say. Honestly, the whole thing just makes me sad. I don't know what's behind this, but from what I saw, she really needs help.

Thanks for this update, history_grrrl.

As mean as I can be in such cases, I'm always ready to work with a student who wants to work with me (and try to find constructive solutions).  This screens out the snowflakes, usually.  It sounds as if this student might actually be willing to work with you, in the common cause of the class of course but also towards larger goals.  Good luck!

I have witnessed anxiety disorder, which is awful, and I think that you got a glimpse of it, too, historygrrrrl.

I also have seen it cause good, smart students, hard-working in every other way, drop out of college.

I hope that your compromise is workable and commend you for it.  Every time that such a student gets past the problem to actually participate, it builds confidence for better participation, the next time.

Will both co-discussion leaders get full credit?  Or co-lead twice, with half-credit each time?  Or ?


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