Lecturer Responses to the Inclusion of Students With Intellectual Disabilities Auditing Undergraduate Classes


Correspondence: John Kubiak, National Institute for Intellectual Disability, Trinity College Dublin, 3 College Green, Dublin 2, Ireland. Tel: +353 1 896 3442; E-mail: kubiakj@tcd.ie


Although postsecondary education for people with intellectual disabilities can improve their chances of employment and create a more satisfying life, higher education is becoming a more usual avenue of postschool learning. As part of a 2-year Certificate in Contemporary Living (CCL) Program offered at Trinity College Dublin, students audited undergraduate university courses, partly with assistance of class peer mentors. The study sought to explore the views of university lecturers whose classes the students attended, the impact of the auditing arrangement on the lecturers' teaching strategies and on other students, particular challenges lecturers faced, and suggestions for improvement. Eleven lecturers teaching courses across two faculties agreed to participate in semi-structured interviews. All staff strongly supported the initiative, because it provided opportunity both for CCL students to learn with undergraduate peers and for lecturers to consider more inclusive instructional approaches for all learners in their classes. The level of understanding shown by many auditing students and their openness to participate in questions, discussion, and field and lab work impressed the lecturers who noted the positive impact this had on other class members. The willingness of lecturers to develop more accessible instructional practices aligned with institutional policies on quality assurance in teaching. They suggested improvements to enable earlier briefing of lecturers and increased participation of students within the auditing process. Future research exploring lecturer and undergraduate students' views of CCL student competence is suggested to inform improved preparation of professionals.