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Development of the Student Campus Accessibility Needs Inventory Tool (SCAN IT)


The purpose of this project is to develop an accessibility assessment tool that can efficiently identify inaccessible areas of an educational environment. SCAN IT is a web-based survey assessment tool that evaluates accessibility from an individual students’ perspective. We envision the tool be used by a campus in a large number of courses in order to obtain data about accessibility issues across the campus and all facets of the learning environment. The results can be aggregated at the course, department, college, and campus levels.

SCAN IT Taxonomy Development

Four significant changes were made in the SCAN IT Taxonomy as a result of pilot testing:

• SCAN IT’s original taxonomy had categories ordered according to frequency of performance such as “once a semester activities” & “weekly activities”. The categories have been subsequently reorganized into student tasks, student skills and impairments.

• Original response sets were modified from “no problem[2]”, “somewhat of a problem[1]” and “major problem[0]” to “easy for me[2]”, “hard for me[1]”, “extremely hard for me[0]” to help students interpret the items from an individual perspective.

• Based on experts scoring the taxonomy, items that did not have a description that elaborated the item appropriately were identified and change to the descriptions were made.

• Since the Learning SCAN IT’s reports will be used with instructors who are more interested in problems faced by students in learning tasks rather than around campus, a greater number of cognitive tasks were added to the taxonomy.

SCAN IT Content Validation

The original SCAN IT taxonomy consisted of about 1,200 questions that covered all student activities that ranged from completing assignments to using the fitness facilities on campus. The purpose of content validating the SCAN IT was to: 1) identify areas of the survey that are related to learning/classroom activities, 2) reduce the survey length & time taken to complete the survey. This ensures that the tool contains content that is valid to instructors and includes areas in which instructors can order change while respecting the time and effort of students completing the survey.

Content validation was done by having 11 student experts’ rate tasks on the SCAN IT as very, somewhat or not important to successful completion of coursework. Students from various fields such as occupational therapy, engineering, arts, computer sciences, and business rated these tasks to avoid a bias towards tasks frequently performed by students in a particular field of study. Tasks identified as eighty percent or more important to successful completion of coursework are included in the new “Learning SCANIT” which has one-third of the number of items in the original taxonomy.

SCAN IT Software Development

SCAN IT’s broad content is efficiently handled through the X FACT program, a cross platform software shell which utilizes a scoring system called TTSS (Trichotomous Tailored Sub-branching Scaling). The sub-branching algorithm will result in only questions in which a difficulty is identified to branch into sub-questions, providing detail on the nature of the difficulty.

Recent changes in the software as a result of alpha testing:

• The web-based version of SCAN IT makes the survey accessible to students in any location and at any time making participation in the study convenient. Students download the SCAN IT program, answer the survey and the encrypted data is sent to our server where it is stored. The program is made to run on any operating system and requires a continuous Internet connection.

• The software shell was redesigned to function with the SCAN IT taxonomy. Additions include easy-to-navigate menus and having the software support students “enrolling” to complete the survey as a student from a particular instructor’s class.

PHASE I: Pilot Research Study in Fall 2009

The current study uses SCAN IT information as an intervention to examine the nature of information that is most effective in increasing an instructor’s willingness to implement universal design course features. The two types of informational interventions compared are problem areas of students identified by the SCAN IT & universal design solutions to those problem areas (experimental group) & information on student disability & accommodations from the university website (control group).

• To explore if SCAN IT information has potential to change instructor willingness when proxy information about the instructors’ class is included in the SCAN IT reports
• To identify an appropriate reporting strategy for SCAN IT results that is informative & easy to read.

• Recruit approximately 30 instructors at the UWM campus, representative of the population of instructors on campus.
• Randomly allocate instructors to control and experimental groups
• Provide the informational interventions:
-SCAN IT reports and UD solutions for the experimental group
-Disability Students Services information for faculty on the university website for the control group.
• Compare willingness to implement universal course design features of instructors in the control & experimental group.
• Collect additional subjective information about reporting style that is preferred by instructors.

IRB Approval
Approval of the Phase 1 and 2 study procedures has been granted from the Institutional Review Board of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The protocol (IRB # 09.342) has been approved for one year and will expire on July 12, 2010.

PHASE II: Campus Research Study in Spring 2010

To use SCAN IT information as an informational intervention to change faculty behavior intention to implement universal course design features.

The methodology of the Spring 2010 study is identical to the pilot study, except for using actual student information that is specific to the instructor’s class to develop the SCAN IT reports. New reports will be used based on the previous research concerning instructor’s preferences.

Data Collection:
The study uses an experimental design to compare the effectiveness of the SCAN IT information in changing instructor willingness to use universal design features.

Development of the Outcome Measure:
Instructor willingness/intention to implement universal course design features is the outcome measure used in the studies. It is measured by asking instructors about their willingness to use UD strategies such as universally designed testing, instructional & communication strategies during course design. The questions are scored on a Likert scale that ranges from ‘”strongly willing/intend to” to” to “strongly unwilling/don’t intend to”. Content validity was assessed by having experts in the field of universal design & survey research comment & provide feedback about items on the scale. Modifications were made based on feedback received. A covariate that could influence willingness levels such as the propensity to innovate are taken into account by administering a short questionnaire to instructors regarding their propensity to use innovation in instruction.

Report Development:
Four different reporting strategies for SCAN IT results were developed. The reports take into account preferences in content and format that instructors may have. For content the reports includes providing problem areas of students either as monochotomous, dichotomous & trichotomous information. E.g.: Monochotomous: 26% of your students have difficulty writing an academic paper, Dichotomous: 13% of your students find writing an academic paper hard and 13% find the task extremely hard.

Reporting formats used to present this information include bar graphs, text, gas gauge, and a representation of the students in the class. Identifying an appropriate format that most appeals to instructors is important as good information presented in an unintelligible format has higher chances of being overlooked.

Future Plans

Short Term:
• Complete Phase I to provide direction to Phase II.
• Identify drawbacks & make amends before the Phase II
• Develop the SCAN IT taxonomy further to function as an effective accessibility measure
• Develop the software to include accessibility features
• Develop the outcome measure Complete Phase II

Long term:
Develop SCAN IT as a tool that assesses freshmen entering universities, to provide a student learning profile. This profile can be provided to the course instructor every time a student enrolls in a particular course. Based on the student’s profile, instructors could design courses that are more universally designed to benefit students in their classes.

Summary of Completed Activities

1. Identifying study design & methodology
2. IRB approval
3. Content validation of the taxonomy
4. Taxonomy item development
5. Software development and alpha testing
6. Pilot interviews to establish interrater reliability
7. Pilot study data collection
8. Invitations extended to instructors for participation of their classes in the spring 2010 study