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Access (Accommodation) Services and Academic Success Services - Students with Disabilities

Roles and Scopes of Access and Academic Success Services for Students with Disabilities

Academic Strategist

Students with and without disabilities use learning assistance services. These can be used by anyone as strategies to maximize the conditions for academic success. They focus on providing students with supplementary opportunities to review specific course material for better understanding, comprehension, and retrieval or to build practical skills for setting, meeting, and evaluating academic goals.

Academic Strategists (also called Learning Strategist), typically have specialized training in Educational Psychology, Counselling or a teaching degree in Special Education.

Working relationships:

With the exception of Academic Strategist help through the Camosun Library, Strategists working with students registered with the Centre for Accessible Learning are not employees of Camosun College. Students typically select and contract privately with service providers from the community or through the Learning Assistance Program at the University of Victoria for an ongoing, one-on-one schedule of learning strategies over the term. While the college does not direct or oversee these service providers, it does draw their attention to the following information about best practice standards from across Canadian post secondary.

Academic Strategists meet with students with disabilities individually, or in small groups, to instruct them in non-content based academic strategies. When working with students, Academic Strategists assist students in developing effective learning strategies and other skill building tools to prepare them for academic success.

Some examples might be improving efficiency, fluency, organization, and success through Learning Strengths / Time management / Reading skills / Note-taking / Active listening skills / Writing skills / Test and exam preparation / study skills / Memory strategies / Attention and concentration strategies / Communication skills / Critical Thinking Skills / dealing with procrastination / and Metacognition.

What an Academic Strategist is not:

  • A Tutor - they will help you with strategies to do course work, but they don't teach course material.
  • A Counselor - they will listen to you and support academic needs, but do not offer counseling services nor are they considered a replacement for a counselor.
  • An Editor - they will provide input, feedback, and learning strategies during the writing process (e.g. how to use commas); they will point out errors and direct students to resources to fix problems they identify; they will help with strategies to improve writing, but will not correct papers or assignments for students.
  • An Academic Advisor - they can work with students to succeed in courses, but cannot suggest what kinds of courses students should be taking. They can refer to the appropriate persons/roles to help.
  • A Career Advisor - they cannot train students in resume writing, etc., but we can refer to the appropriate person/role to help.
  • A Financial Advisor - they cannot answer questions about student loans or grant applications. They can refer students to the appropriate person to help.

The strategist-student relationship is a professional, working relationship. Strategists should observe ethical Strategist standards and practices which encourage academic honesty. Strategists and students should maintain an arms-length and respectful relationship.

Strategists working with students have a very specific role and should not, on their own initiative or at the request of the students, go beyond this role.

The Strategist is not a counsellor. A student may experience stress, anxiety or distress over academic challenges and difficulties. Camosun Counselling Services can support students with these and any other emotional, psychological or mental health issues.

Strategists Do:

  • Discuss and model learning strategies
  • Help students understand available resources
  • Ask open-ended questions to point students toward reflection and understanding
  • Support students in their goal setting

Strategists Do not:

  • Check over assignments and homework
  • Predict what mark they will receive or what is 'good enough'
  • Give answers to content problems
  • Proofread or edit work
  • Accompany students to class

Academic Integrity:

Strategists and students are often surprised by the range of activities categorized as plagiarism. This may include:

  • Suggesting the topic for a student's paper or assignment.
  • Correcting grammar, spelling and/or punctuation in a written assignment.
  • Completing problems on an assignment handed in.
  • Completing research for the student.

To avoid compromising your or your student students' academic integrity, take care not to do the work for an assignment that the students will be handing in.

Academic honesty issues frequently arise when a Strategist wants to do too much for a student, or when they are stuck and want to rush the session forward.

As a Strategist you should not interact with the course instructor or academic department on the student's behalf. See the section on Learner Autonomy in this guide for more information.

Confidentiality:

Strategists will maintain the highest privacy standards in terms of protecting personal information relative to those whom they work with. Strategists must not give out any information about their students to a third party during the Strategist session (discussing disability or personal information loudly in public spaces) or outside of the Strategist session (discussing with friends, course instructors, or classmates). Such information includes, but is not limited to student's names and information about their disabilities.

Government Grant Funded Students:

Many students with disabilities receive Strategist funding. You will need to complete a service provider receipt form for the student that outlines the date of each session, hourly rate, total amount paid for services you provided. See this video for more information. You may also be required to complete a service provider cost estimate form which confirms the rate you charge and summarizes your education/qualifications that make you suitable for the role. Please return the completed form to the student.

Appointments/Cancellation Policy:

Ideally, set up your appointments in advance and meet in a public space, such as the library or online. Let the student know if you have a cancellation policy so that they are clear from the beginning. Discuss payment and how, when you would like to be paid (I.e. by e-transfer after each session, or every Friday, or at the end of the term, etc.)