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Oklahoma State University

FRCOD Model

The Faculty Resource Councel on Disability Model

A Replication Guide

Through Project PACE, with funds provided by the U.S. Department of Education, a model demonstration project was initiated to explore best practices in faculty development on teaching students with disabilities. This CD-ROM offers materials for replicating the training sessions on other campuses or for faculty members to access individually. This section discusses the Faculty Resource Council Model and provides suggestions for replicating this model on your campus.

The Philosophy

This model is grounded in the idea that enhancing awareness of key individuals will impact the university system in a proactive manner. Faculty representatives receive professional development and serve as mentors to other faculty in their department. Peers are able to offer insights and effective teaching strategies specific to their discipline. A disability service provider—no matter how knowledgeable—will not be able to offer insights to faculty from every discipline. The goal of this model is not to replace the role of disability service providers but to offer another perspective and to establish a more extensive network of resources.

The Implementation

One of the primary initiatives of Project PACE has been the establishment of two Faculty Resource Councils on Disability (FRC)—one at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) and one at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB). The FRCs are made up of faculty representatives from each academic department and additional staff from other key departments.

A 16-hour training curriculum was developed and offered at UALR and UAPB. Topics included: disability awareness, disability law, Web accessibility, and universal instructional design, as well as disability-specific information. On the two campuses, a total of 90 faculty and administrators received a combined total of 1278 hours of training. In addition, Project PACE has offered on-going continuing education opportunities for these faculty members. FRC members have received the resource materials developed by Project PACE and will continue to receive other resources as they become available. They are asked to make these resources available and to act as a mentor to faculty in their departments.

The steps taken to initiate this model and to provide faculty development are described below. For each step in the process, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) models will each be described. Following each section is a list of recommendations.

  1. Obtain Administrative Support
  2. Determine the composition and role of the Faculty Resource Council on Disability.
  3. Determine content and method of delivery of professional development modules.
  4. Develop materials and resources.
  5. Deliver professional development modules.
  6. Evaluate training and assess outcomes.
  7. Provide ongoing support and technical assistance.

Obtain Administrative Support

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

The Director of Disability Support Services at UALR was the Principal Investigator (PI) for the grant that funded Project PACE. She laid the groundwork for the grant request by seeking administrative support for the grant application as well as for the faculty development model described therein. She worked closely with the Provost, the Vice Chancellor for Student Services, and other key administrators, who gave their full support to the project. She worked most closely with the Provost, who came up with the concept of the Faculty Resource Council on Disability, which became a major part of the project. Once funding was received, the Provost sent a letter to Deans and Department Chairs across the campus describing the activities of Project PACE and outlining their responsibilities in carrying out activities related to this project. The Director was also asked to meet with the Dean's Council and to attend a campus-wide meeting of Department Chairs meeting to explain the project.

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

The PI contacted the Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs on the campus of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) to obtain support prior to submitting the grant proposal. After the project was funded, the Disability Support Services and Project PACE Directors were asked to speak to key administrators to explain the project. Support was readily given with enthusiasm from all entities involved. This campus has had a series of disability services Directors who came from backgrounds unrelated to disabilities, and the eagerness to learn was apparent. The current disability services Director was pleased to participate on the Faculty Resource Council, and attended all trainings.

Recommendations

Involve key administrators and faculty early in the process of developing ideas for the proposal. Seek their input.

If administrators are not already convinced that faculty need information about teaching students with disabilities, be prepared to provide documentation to support the need.

Keep your key administrators informed of progress of the project through monthly reports, regular meetings, phone contacts, and/or e-mail.

As a general way of operating long before you are ready to seek support on a given proposal, these are some ways that disability service directors can gain respect and influence on campus:

Participate in campus events, on committees, and in general be visible. Show that you have an interest in more than students with disabilities—that you care about the goals of the institution.

Offer training and technical assistance to faculty, staff, and administrators.

Go after grant funding when you find possibilities that fit with your needs and interests. This often involves building partnerships with other units on campus, and in general it gets positive attention. It helps your credibility that you were able to compete for funds to provide exemplary services (most grant funding is made available only for innovative projects). In addition, indirect funds from your grant, pieces of the pie, go to designated administrative offices, which is, of course, a positive aspect of this process for them.

Treat people with respect, but also as your peers. Everyone has a different rank and position. Yours is disability expert, and you are probably unique in this role. Don't be intimidated by those who may rank above you, and certainly don't place yourself above those who may rank below you. People at all levels have the ability to help or hurt your causes.

Be a positive force through your attitude and approach. If you must complain, do so only to one or two very trusted people. This does not mean you can't disagree. It's a matter of how you express your disagreement.

Determine the Composition and Role of the Faculty Resource Council on Disability

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Faculty Resource Council on Disability was comprised of the Chair of each academic department and, in most cases, one other faculty member from each department. In addition, key personnel from other departments were invited to participate. These other departmental representatives were from Counseling and Career Planning, the Donaghey Scholars Program, the Graduate School, the Library, and the federally funded TRIO program (Student Support Services). UALR's Faculty Resource Council on Disability has a total of 85 members. FRC members received stipends of $500 for participating in these professional development activities.

The role of the FRC members was defined as a mentoring role but it was expected that the way the members carried that out would depend on the culture of the department and their preference for interacting with their colleagues. Several different models have emerged. In one department, the FRC member worked with other faculty in her department to develop a smaller version of the resource manual they were provided. She incorporated information that is specific to their discipline and gave a copy to each faculty member in their department. In another department, the FRC member has taken an advocate role in departmental meetings. He has also created a GA position whose role it will be to develop alternate formats and prepare accessible materials for students with disabilities. Finally, another FRC member conducted a needs assessment among the faculty in her department and requested customized in-service training from Project PACE in conjunction with departmental meetings.

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

The Faculty Resource Council on Disability was made up of one representative from each academic department. In some cases this person was the Chair, but in most departments it was a person who had a specific interest in participating. In addition to the representatives from academic departments, the following departments were invited to send a representative to the training: the Library, the Counseling and Testing Center, Academic Skills and Development Services, the Registrar's Office and Disability Services. UAPB's Faculty Resource Council on Disability has a total of 22 members. FRC members received stipends of $500 for participating in these professional development activities. On this campus, in addition to the role the FRC members play in their own departments, they have served in an advisory capacity to the disability services office.

Recommendations

Council Composition
  • When possible, recruit faculty members with a specific interest in improving the quality of education for students with disabilities.
  • Try to recruit tenured faculty. These faculty members will more likely remain with the university for a longer time and are likely in a position to provide guidance to newer faculty.
  • For departments in which the representative is not the chair, provide a brief (2 to 3 hour) orientation to department chairs regarding Disability Support Services, the FRC model, available resources, and the process of accommodating students with disabilities. This will help them understand the role of the FRC member and enable them to choose an appropriate representative for their department. It will also provide them with the skills necessary to better assist faculty in their departments with concerns related to providing accommodations and teaching students with disabilities.
  • Consider including key personnel from other departments on campus such as computing services, academic advising, or faculty development. It may not be necessary or appropriate for these individuals to attend all of the training sessions, but there may be specific content that would be very helpful to them.
  • If a member has to resign from the FRC, consider how a replacement will be chosen and how professional development will be delivered. If turnover is not very high, it may be best to consider web-based training combined with one-on-one technical assistance.
  • Provide incentives for participation if possible. Explore avenues for providing financial incentives, including private donations and grants. While some campuses may not have the resources to provide financial incentives, with administrative support, there may be other incentives that can be provided.
FRC Member's Role
  • Consider the level of commitment that the FRC will need to make and communicate those expectations at the time you are recruiting members. Will ongoing meetings of the FRC occur after the initial training? Will follow-up workshops be provided? Will attendance be required or optional? How will ongoing support be provided?
  • Allow flexibility in carrying out the role so that the culture of a given department can be taken into consideration. Providing some structure or suggestions for carrying out responsibilities will be helpful to some faculty members, but others may be more creative in developing their role if given that flexibility.

Determining the Content and Method of Delivery of Professional Development Modules

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

The content and structure of the training modules were determined in response to 1) a needs assessment that was disseminated to faculty across campus, 2) student and faculty focus groups, and 3) input from disability services staff. Training was delivered through an initial 1.5-hour orientation and four 4-hour sessions. Each session was offered three times to accommodate a variety of schedules. A pre-assessment was provided to help presenters gauge the knowledge level of the participants. The modules were delivered using a variety of techniques including: lecture supported by multimedia, discussion, video, and personal stories of people with disabilities.

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

The needs assessment provided at UALR was adapted for UAPB. Staff reviewed the results from the needs assessment, administrative requests, and evaluation results from the UALR training to adapt the content of the sessions. Training was delivered through eight 2-hour sessions. Since the size of the FRC was small, the sessions were only provided once and all members attended together. The modules were delivered using a variety of techniques including: lecture supported by multimedia, discussion, video, and personal stories of people with disabilities.

Recommendations

§ Seek input from faculty through needs assessments, focus groups, or pre-assessment activities to determine content.

§ Be aware of any current concerns on your campus and incorporate those topics into the content.

§ Consider the mode of delivery that best suits the needs of your campus. Though many institutions are initiating web-based faculty training, the Project PACE staff saw definite advantages to interacting with and getting to know the faculty participants. Needs assessments revealed that some faculty members would be excluded if materials were only delivered online.

§ Emphasize the concept and practice of Universal Instructional Design and provide models for implementing the principles.

Developing Materials and Resources

The staff at Project PACE has worked to develop products for faculty teaching students with disabilities. These products, several of which are packaged with this CD-ROM set, have been provided to each FRC member. As a result, each department on both campuses has a small library of resources related to teaching students with disabilities. Other disability service providers are encouraged to use the resources developed by Project PACE or to adapt them to meet the needs of the faculty on their campuses. If you do adapt the materials or use parts of them in your own materials, please give credit to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Project PACE. Also, please state that the original source was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education, Grant #P333A990056.

Recommendations

§ Consider the diversity of faculty on your campus as you develop materials. Provide a model of Universal Design by providing materials and resources in multiple formats.

§ Develop materials that can be accessed on an "as needed" basis.

§ Encourage faculty members to develop materials that are specific to their discipline.

Delivering Professional Development Modules

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Each session was offered 3 times to accommodate a variety of schedules and to limit the size of the sessions to 40 participants or less. Most sessions had 30 or fewer participants. Participants received handouts for each session in four separate folders. Later, they were provided with a manual that included all of the handouts in a tabbed 3-ring binder.

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

Project PACE staff provided eight 2-hour sessions. This change in the length of sessions was in response to a request by the administration. Participants were provided with a 3-ring binder with 12 tabbed sections. As handouts were provided, participants added them to the appropriate section in their binder.

Recommendations

§ Include faculty presenters in the delivery of training.

§ Invite people with disabilities to present—students, faculty and service providers.

§ Encourage faculty to consider ways to apply the materials to their instruction through discussion or evaluation questions.

§ Give careful consideration to the timing of training during the semester, the length of sessions, and the timing of breaks.

§ Provide handouts in a format that will be easy to access on an "as needed" basis when situations arise.

§ If possible, keep group size at 25 or less and allow each group to proceed through the training modules together. This will allow the training to be more interactive and process-oriented.

§ Provide refreshments. This simple gesture goes a long way to make the training atmosphere more pleasant. When refreshments are provided, participants are more likely to remain in the room during breaks and interact with each other and the training staff.

Evaluating Training and Assessing Outcomes

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Evaluations were completed at the end of each session. Feedback was used to modify that session the next time it was provided. One full semester after all FRC members had completed the training modules, a follow-up evaluation was provided to assess impact. This assessment instrument is included in the Printable Resources section of this CD. Impact has also been observed from the perspective of the disability services office. The staff report that questions and requests from faculty demonstrate a better understanding of the accommodation process and of student needs.

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

Evaluations were completed at the end of each session. A pre-test/post-test was also administered.

Recommendations

§ Design evaluation forms that are short and easy to complete.

§ Organize training modules before designing the evaluation and pre-test/post-test instruments so that assessments directly reflect content.

§ Recognize that asking the right evaluation questions may actually facilitate a change in behavior. Questions such as "Have you shared the materials from the last session with colleagues in your department?" may serve as a reminder to do so the next time.

Providing Ongoing Support and Technical Assistance

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

The Project PACE staff has provided continued support to FRC members by offering additional opportunities for faculty development, presenting at in-service workshops and faculty meetings, and sending information via a list serve. Technical assistance has also been provided upon request to individual FRC members.

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

Project PACE extends invitations to the UAPB FRC to attend workshops offered at UALR and assists the disability services director at UAPB in obtaining resources for providing continuing education opportunities on that campus. Project PACE has also sponsored FRC members to attend statewide workshops and conferences.

Recommendations

§ Continue to maintain a presence with the FRC members through the provision of resources and faculty development opportunities on campus.

§ Be available to support FRC members by assisting in making copies of materials or providing in-service workshops.

Conclusion

Providing faculty development opportunities on your campus, though it may require additional planning and efforts on the front end, can go a long way toward improving the quality of education that students with disabilities receive. The discussions and feedback that occurs can also serve to inform and improve the manner in which you provide services to students with disabilities in general.