As students, we all have things that we wish our professors knew about us. Being on the quarter system, it can be difficult to build a relationship with your professor within the 10-week period because once they get to know you and your learning needs, it’s time for your next set of courses. This can be especially unsettling for students with learning disabilities because our relationship with our professors and their understanding of our academic needs may differ. We constantly try to find the best way to communicate our needs in the classroom. Knowing these things not only allows us to build a strong relationship with our professors, but it would also allow for our time at Seattle University to run more smoothly.
I am a Communications and Media major specializing in Strategic Communications. For my Senior Capstone, I decided to address the importance of communication between students and faculty, especially as it pertains to the topic of students with learning disabilities or learning difficulties. I was diagnosed late with my learning disability which affects my reading comprehension abilities. This caused me to struggle in my performance when I didn’t know what reading skills worked and didn’t work for me. Because I didn’t know until I was 17, I didn’t learn how to identify what’s hard for me and how to fix it. The stress and fear of accepting my learning disability led me towards not wanting to accept help and towards having the belief that I could find a way to succeed by myself. I have since acknowledged my learning disability and how it affects me. This has led me to find ways to have conversations with my professors so that they know what is going on and how it affects me. By doing so, it has helped me no longer be embarrassed and to thrive academically.
My initial step in this project was to reach out to all of the applicable campus resources to see where my project would best fit. I was given the opportunity to conduct and lead one of the Learning Assistance Programs quarterly workshops. I was in charge of creating the advertisement material and the entire workshop agenda. The workshop was titled “Things I Wish My Professor Knew” and it was held on February 5th. I thought of this title because I believed it would catch the attention of both students and faculty and it would also draw attention to those who have an invisible disability. There were about ten attendees, both students and faculty members at Seattle University. The hour was spent as an open forum discussion to share about anything including difficulties in the classroom, stories of success, experience with learning disabilities, and finding resources.
From there, I worked with Kimberley Thompson, Director of Disability Services, to create a resource based on what was discussed in the workshop. I wanted to encapsulate the importance of seeing this process as a two-way street between students and professors. This resource is designed to help illustrate some of the important communication aspects between professors and students with learning disabilities. In the end, I hope this resource helps both parties better understand learning and any type of disabilities that may be present in the college environment. Through this process of communication, it is important to remember to not assume anything because everyone has their own story and process.
It makes me proud to see the difference my project is starting to make around campus. After hearing about the workshop I held, the Assistant Director of the Writing Center reached out to me to see if I would be interested in partaking in a podcast they are putting together. I responded saying that I would happily take part in this project. There is more that I need to learn about this, but recording will happen sometime this week and I believe that the podcast will become available in spring quarter.
The infographic I have created is going to be available through Seattle University’s Disability Services for both faculty and students. I also highly recommend if you may or do have a disability or would like help navigating your disability, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Disability Services. Their information is:
New Students to DS: https://www.seattleu.edu/disability-services/new-students/
Front Desk: (206) 296-5740
– Isabelle Walton Masters, Seattle University ‘20