Teaching Suggestions for Faculty - Health and Wellness Center - Penn State Altoona

Student Disability Resources

Teaching Suggestions for Faculty

Faculty play a critical role in helping students who may have learning disabilities by referring them to a trained specialist. Once identified, faculty can develop "academic adjustments" that will permit students with learning disabilities to fully access lecture and course materials.

  • Encourage students to make appointments during office hours. Ask students with disabilities how you as a faculty member can assist in facilitating course material.
  • Provide students with a detailed course syllabus. Include the disability statement on the course syllabus.
  • Clearly spell out expectations before course begins (e.g., grading, material to be covered, and due dates.)
  • Start each lecture with an outline of material to be covered that period. At the conclusion of the class, summarize key points.
  • Speak directly to students, and use gestures and natural expressions to convey further meaning.
  • Present new or technical vocabulary on the blackboard or use a student handout. Terms should be used in context to convey greater meaning.
  • Give assignments both orally and in written form to avoid confusion.
  • Announce reading assignments well in advance for students who are using taped materials. It takes an average of four weeks to get a book tape recorded.
  • If possible, select a textbook with an accompanying study guide for optional student use.
  • Provide adequate opportunities for questions and answers, including review sessions.
  • Allow students to tape record lectures to facilitate their note taking. In some instances, this will be an essential accommodation.
  • Provide, in advance, study questions for exams that illustrate the format, as well as the content of the test. Explain what constitutes a good answer and why.
  • If necessary, allow students with learning disabilities to demonstrate mastery of course material using alternative methods (e.g., extended time limits for testing, oral exams in a separate room).
  • Permit use of simple calculators, scratch paper, pocket spellers, and dictionaries during exams (no programmable calculators!).