Date of Award

December 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation


Benjamin Dotger

Subject Categories



Postsecondary students identified as having a disability in the United States are commonly expected to discuss the use of disability-related accommodations with faculty members. Researchers have previously used surveys and interviews to examine what students report about discussing accommodations with faculty members. However, little is known about how students advocate in the moment when communicating with faculty members about accommodations. In this study, I designed a clinical simulation to examine how 15 university students identified as having a disability engaged in and reflected upon a meeting with a standardized faculty member – an actor who I trained to communicate questions and concerns that were described as common by university students and staff members. Participants engaged in a single video-recorded simulated discussion followed by a group reflection interview and an optional individual follow-up interview in which participants watched a video of the simulation.

The results of this study illustrate approaches that students use to discuss accommodations with a faculty member, including how they frame the role of accommodations. The results also provide glimpses into how students respond to a standardized faculty member’s concern about an accommodation and how students advocate for their needs. Furthermore, data from follow-up interviews demonstrate an array of tactics that participants used to manage their identity with careful consideration of issues such as power, authority, and gender dynamics within the context of a student-faculty member relationship. I conclude this study by suggesting that while self-advocacy remains important for postsecondary students identified as having a disability, the voices of participants in this study illustrate the need to reform practices that place students in a stigmatized position and demand the need for students to self-advocate in the first place.


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