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Implementing Academic Accommodations

A guide for course instructors/departments/schools on implementing common academic accommodations in post secondary

Group Work (flexibility) Accommodation

Some courses include a group work component for completion, though the requirement to work in a group is not essential to the learning required. In other words, learning to work in a group is not itself a learning outcome being taught or assessed. An example would be a History or Political Science course where there is a group presentation to the class. In this case, a student could likely be offered an opportunity to do an independent research paper and still demonstrate the knowledge required to be assessed on mastery of the content of these courses.

However, many course and field curriculums are structured around active, collaborative and social learning through group work participation. In some of these courses and programs, working in a group is an essential learning outcome / essential course requirement and there are limited and in some cases, no options for adaptations.

Course instructors considering an accommodation around flexibility for group work may consider:

  • Extension of time for group based upon individual student confidentiality
  • Completing work, project or components of project individually based upon individual student confidentiality
  • Assigning specific or structured component to each student in the group (e.g. permitting student with a disability to not have to be the spokesperson for the group)
  • Providing structured method for identifying group meeting schedules and methods of meeting well in advance
  • Allowing student to participate in a small group (size of group reduced) or present to an individual assessor
  • Grading group participants individually on the basis of their contribution
  • When many groups are working in one large classroom, breaking the class in half into two smaller spaces or move them physically apart if possible to reduce distraction and competing noise. Communicate and enact rules on loudness of speech while groups are working together.
  • Scheduling groups to meet one after the other in spaces that cannot accommodate some noise reduction.
  • Inviting students with accommodations to discuss group work accommodations in advance
  • Having students begin learning to work in teams early in the semester prior to the larger project, trying out different roles and dealing with minor conflicts or issues and having course instructor help when support is needed. Brainstorming is a good way to get students working on small group activities.
  • Students with access services staff who may accompany a student for communication access (eg. sign language interpreter) in a group will need additional space for their service provider to attend.