Campus centre improves access to post-secondary education
The number of qualified students with learning disabilities enrolling in post-secondary education in Ontario has increased exponentially over the last eight years. The Regional Assessment and Resource Centre (RARC) at Queen’s has helped facilitate many of those students’ transitions and paved the way for them getting appropriate accommodations.
“Students with learning disabilities are identified earlier and universities and colleges are getting much better at realizing that students can be evaluated in different ways than hand-written exams,” says Allyson Harrison, Clinical Director, RARC.
A provincial task force created nearly 10 years ago found that students with learning disabilities struggled to succeed at the post-secondary level in part because their needs were not properly assessed prior to beginning their chosen programs. Two regional assessment centres were created, one at Queen’s and the other at Cambrian College in Sudbury.
The province selected Queen’s because of its strong track record for research and education in psychology. In addition to assessing students across the south-eastern region of Ontario, RARC provides additional training to Faculty of Education students and facilitates research by psychology graduate students. RARC’s funding comes entirely from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU), and is a unit within Health, Counselling and Disability Services at Queen’s.
“It’s been a really good marriage having the centre here at Queen’s. The university has been extremely supportive and played an important role making sure this program succeeds and thrives,” says Dr. Harrison.
RARC has outgrown its office space at 186 Barrie Street. It will be moving to the basement of Mackintosh-Corry Hall beside the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL). This will help promote information-sharing and best practices between the two organizations, according to Dr. Harrison. Furthermore, the new space is on one floor and more accessible than the current offices.
RARC’s psychologists and psychological associates assess approximately 400 students each year to determine what factors may be affecting their learning. If the cause is a neurologically-based disability such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or a learning disability, RARC can recommend appropriate accommodations to the post-secondary institution that can allow the student to participate fully in the academic environment.
More details about RARC and its services can be found online.