Abstract: Exploring Online Learning Self-Efficacy for Students with Disabilities in Higher Education (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

425P Exploring Online Learning Self-Efficacy for Students with Disabilities in Higher Education

Saturday, January 15, 2022
Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Othelia Lee, PH D, Professor, UNCC, Charlotte, NC
Stella Kim, Assistant Professor, UNCC, Charlotte, NC
Tuba Gezer, Ph D Student, UNCC, Charlotte, NC
Backgrounds: Despite the exponential growth of both online learning opportunities in higher education, students with disabilities still report a lack in inclusion and accessibility measures. Therefore, this study explored challenges and opportunities in online education during the global pandemic by examining the effectiveness of various online instructional strategies and self-efficacy, as a key component in successful online learning.

Methods: The setting of this research was a large public university in the Southeast. In spring, 2021, email invitation was sent to a sample frame of over 900 students who are registered with Disability Services. Of them, 278 students responded to the online survey via Qualtrics (nearly 30% response rate). Respondents were asked to complete a demographic questionnaire on their types of disability and accommodation(s) granted. Participants’ prior experience with online courses and their preference in course delivery modalities were further inquired. Additionally, respondent evaluated the efficacy of several instructional strategies on a 10-point scale, including weekly assignments, class notes, video lectures, online discussion forums, synchronous sessions, in-person video conferencing, and group projects.

Results: The most prevalent disability types were ADHD (37.4%) and psychological (32%), revealing invisible aspects of their disability. The most common accommodation provided were additional test time (66.2%) and attendance accommodation (43.5%). Accommodations requiring assistive technology (10.8%), accessible textbooks (7.2%), and captions (5.0%) were relatively lower.

The respondents identified video lectures (M=6.66, SD=2.71) and email communication with instructors (M=6.77, SD=2.62) as the two most effective online instructional methods. By contrast, group projects (M=3.69, SD=3.01) and online discussion forum (M=4.81, SD=2.97) were found to be the least effective approaches. Also, in response to a question about their preference in course delivery, the majority (52.2%) reported that they would enroll in face-to-face classes.

The five dimensions of online learning self-efficacy (OLSE) were examined individually with an intention to identify the challenges faced by students with disabilities. Notably, the highest score of OLSE over the five dimensions was found in their ability to handle various tools in the virtual environment (M=9.77, SD=1.69). It is also worth noting that the lowest score was found in their capacity to interact with their peers in the social dimension (M=5.89, SD=2.63), in contrast to their relatively high level of OLSE to interact academically with their classmates (M=7.58, SD=2.37).

The final model emerging from the stepwise multiple regression revealed an adjusted r^2 value of .337 with six statistically significant variables (R2=.36, F=19.631, p<.001). The most influential factors in explaining OLSE were technology competence (b=.41) and preference for face-to-face delivery modality (b=-1.15) Students who self-identified as being bisexual (b=-1.06), asexual (b=-1.23), and Asian (b=-1.19) tended to have lower ratings on OLSE. Among various types of disability, having medical conditions (b=.57,) was the only significant variable related to higher OLSE.

Discussion: The resounding argument throughout the literature is that improving accessibility of online learning for students with disabilities will promote best practices in online learning for all students. Accessible mindset has been called upon as an effort to increase institutional readiness to provide better support to students with disabilities.