Teaching and Learning Statements, Guidelines and Resources

Queen’s University recognizes that the teaching and learning landscape is shifting in exciting new directions and if we are to remain successful in providing the ultimate transformative student learning experience, we must continue to identify and implement new opportunities that build on our strong foundations. This work is achieved through innovative solutions, such as active and collaborative learning techniques, rethinking classroom spaces, and implementing alternative program delivery methods to better reflect the opportunities of the digital age. We are also working to expand the diversity of credentials, as well as experiential and entrepreneurial learning opportunities that will foster the skills needed for our students to be successful in today’s increasingly diverse labour market. Queen’s vision is to continue to exemplify the quintessential balanced academy: a research-intensive university with a transformative student learning experience. As such, Queen’s is committed to strengthening and expanding its high-quality educational programming by promoting excellence in teaching while providing our students with innovative learning experiences that prepare them to be lifelong learners in the 21st century. 


Questions can be directed to vptl@queensu.ca 

Statements

As educators we share ethical, legal, and professional obligations to support the success of all learners at Queen’s University. Through understanding the foundation of our institutional practices, Queen’s educators and staff are in a better position to help enhance the learning environment for all. This statement aims to set the foundation for academic accommodation practices for use by instructors and staff involved in instruction at all levels at Queen’s University.

It summarizes:

  1. the provincial legal context for academic accommodation;
  2. how academic accommodations are made;
  3. the role (and limits) of “universal” frameworks in supporting student accommodation; and
  4. a listing of supporting services and resources on accommodation.

1. The Legal Context for Accommodation

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (“AODA”) and the Ontario Human Rights Code (“the Code”) are laws that work together with the goal of making the province more inclusive by reducing and removing barriers. It is under the AODA and the Code that the institution has a legal obligation to provide academic accommodations to students.

In The Opportunity to Succeed: Achieving Barrier-free Education for Students with Disabilities (“the report”), the Ontario Human Rights Commission (“OHRC”) establishes a foundation of principles for student accommodation in post-secondary education. In the report, guidelines detailed in the following sections are especially relevant for our work as an institution:

As detailed by the OHRC, accommodations should not lower academic standards or interfere with the achievement of different outcomes. Through the development of flexible engagement in the academic material (including tests, quizzes, and exams), appropriate accommodation removes or reduces barriers experienced by a student with a disability, allowing them the equal opportunity to demonstrate individual mastery of the academic material.

Post-Secondary Institutions

The duty to accommodate rests on the whole educational institution with responsibilities shared by instructors, the institutional office for students with disabilities, and institutional policy makers. Students with disabilities engage with the university in the accommodation process.

Post-secondary institutions are responsible for ensuring that their facilities and services are accessible; that the environment is welcoming and non-discriminatory; that appropriate, effective, and dignified accommodation processes are in place; and students who experience functional impacts in a classroom because of their disabilities are provided an appropriate accommodation to the point of undue hardship[1] for the institution.   

As detailed in the report, all members of the post-secondary institution have a role to play.

For example,

    • Faculty and staff have a duty to educate themselves about disability-related issues and the processes and guidelines for seeking accommodation, to interact with students in a non-discriminatory manner, to engage in the accommodation process, and to provide appropriate accommodation to the point of undue hardship.
    • Staff and faculty responsible for designing or developing new or revised facilities, services, policies, processes, courses, or curricula[2] must ensure that these are designed inclusively, with flexibility to allow students with disabilities access to the course with minimal impact to curriculum or student.
    • Clear and reasonable processes and guidelines for seeking accommodation should be in place at all post-secondary institutions, and these should be clearly communicated to all students.
    • Based on the three principles of the duty to accommodate as outlined by the OHRC in the report the process of accommodation, as well as the outcome, should be respectful of the dignity of the persons seeking accommodation, engage with the person seeking accommodation as a unique individual with unique accommodation requirements, and should consider the importance of integration and full participation.
    • Any university plans and policies related to accessibility should recognize that persons with disabilities are important stakeholders in the process.

Post-secondary institutions have a responsibility, short of undue hardship, to cover the cost of the required accommodation, unless there is sufficient (and non-discriminatory) outside funding available.

In 2016, the OHRC outlined further specific measures for universities to implement with the goal of reducing systemic barriers to post-secondary education, while ensuring that institutions receive appropriate documentation to determine academic accommodations. These measures further guide our institutional processes and detail our obligations, specifically through the Academic Accommodations for Students with Disabilities Policy. The measures detailed by the OHRC, via a 2017 report (With learning in mind) are as follows:

  • When seeking an accommodation for functional impacts related to a mental health disability, students must provide information about their disability-related needs, but it is not mandatory for them to disclose a medical diagnosis.
  • Students are not required to reveal private medical information to faculty or instructors for the purpose of having their approved accommodations implemented in a class.
  • Interim, retroactive, permanent, or temporary accommodations are valid for both temporary and permanent disabilities.
  • Rather than directly from instructors, students should seek accommodation through a centralized process.
  • Guidelines, forms and procedures are to be clearly communicated to students, faculty and staff.

In support of these measures, Queen’s students, faculty and designated staff can access approved student accommodation information via Ventus, the University’s accommodation management portal. While students’ accommodations are approved though a central process, the implementation of the accommodations in individual courses requires the engagement of instructors, QSAS staff and students.

2. Meeting our Duty to Accommodate

Accommodations are intended to provide students with disabilities[3] equal learning opportunities and equal access to the learning environment. Accommodations are not designed to give a student an advantage over other students, to alter essential requirements of a course, nor to weaken academic rigor. Rather, the duty to accommodate within the context of a Queen’s University classroom or course means that the institution, through shared responsibility and through a process outlined in part below, adjusts the learning experience so that students with disabilities can fully participate, unless that accommodation causes undue hardship.

With education, training and experience related to disabilities and the barriers students face during the learning process, staff within the Queen’s Student Accessibility Services (“QSAS”) office seek to remove disability related academic barriers while working with instructors to uphold essential program requirements and are committed to supporting students as they pursue their academic goals.

The QSAS process comprises a review and assessment of legislative requirements and institutional policy, along with understanding of the first-person experience of disability impacts from the individual student, and rigorous documentation review. The process for implementing accommodations is actioned in the following way:

  • Student registers with the Ventus portal using their NetID and password where they are prompted to fill out an intake form.
  • The student reviews the QSAS Documentation Criteria and uploads the appropriate documents to Ventus.
  • Intake Coordinators provide the first level of understanding the students’ disability related needs by reviewing the first-person experience outlined in the intake form and reviewing the provided documentation. A determination is made whether the student is eligible for permanent, temporary, or interim accommodations.
  • Accessibility Advisors further review the students’ first-person experience and the provided documentation to identify specific functional impacts and barriers that the student may face.
  • Accessibility Advisors and students work collaboratively to understand the unique student barrier(s) and implement appropriate accommodations that remove the disability-related barrier while also upholding the essential requirements of the course.
  • Accommodations are provided to the student through Ventus.

3. Academic Accommodation and Universal Design for Learning

With the goal of improving student outcomes, Universal Design for Learning (“UDL”) is a structured framework that calls for instructors to provide multiple ways of presenting classroom material, multiple ways of engaging the student in the learning, and multiple ways for the student to demonstrate learning. Universal Instructional Design (“UID”) is a framework intended to support the implementation of UDL by developing flexibility within the curriculum of a course.

While UDL and UID frameworks encourage educators to design learning experiences to help reduce barriers to student learning from the design or planning stage of a course, it is important to keep in mind the following from the perspective of student accommodation:

  • UDL and UID approaches will not offer a substitute for all learner needs, as while these approaches can offer more inclusive classrooms, not all UDL/UID strategies can meet accommodation needs of all students.

4. Additional Resources on Accommodation

Queen's Student Accessibility Services (QSAS)

Queen’s Accessibility Hub: Students

Queen’s Accessibility Hub: Instructors

 

Human Rights and Equity Office

 

Ontario Human Rights Commission:  Policy on Accessible education for Students with Disabilities

Last updated: September 19, 2023

 

[1] As detailed by the Ontario Human Rights Commission, “…inconvenience, employee morale, third-party preferences, etc. are not valid considerations in assessing whether an accommodation causes undue hardship” rather the Code prescribes “…three considerations when assessing whether an accommodation would cause undue hardship: 1) cost; 2) outside sources of funding, if any; and 3) health and safety requirements, if any.”

[2] The report provides the following guidance, for example, on “essential” student requirements (emphasis added): “For example, it may likely be an essential requirement that a student master core aspects of a course curriculum. It is much less likely that it will be an essential requirement to demonstrate that mastery in a particular format, unless mastery of that format (e.g., oral communication) is also a vital requirement of the program.”

[3] Disability is defined in the Ontario Human Rights Code as: (a) any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness and includes diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, a brain injury, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical co-ordination, blindness or visual impediment, deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment, or physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device; (b) a condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability; (c) a learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language; (d) a mental disorder, or (e) an injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997; (“handicap”)

In anticipation of the 2023-24 academic year, please find an overview of the guidance and updates communicated by the Vice-Provost, Teaching and Learning since February 2023, specifically as related to addressing the impact of generative artificial intelligence (tools such as ChatGPT) within the classroom environment.

Queen’s has not banned the use of generative AI tools. This technology has already entered the educational system, is very difficult to detect, and is so widespread that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to prevent its use. In addition, many persuasive arguments have been made about the potential positive uses of generative AI.

(from the General Statement from the Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning) on ChatGPT and Generative AI, February 2023)

However, inappropriate use of generative AI constitutes a departure from academic integrity. Among the core values of academic integrity are honesty and fairness that establish a framework for teaching and learning for both undergraduate and graduate students at Queen’s. 

(from the General Statement from the Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning) on ChatGPT and Generative AI, February 2023)

To update academic integrity policy in light of generative AI, the Academic Integrity Subcommittee of the Senate Committee for Academic Development and Procedures has drafted updates to the types of departures from academic integrity in the context of generative artificial intelligence. These are expected to go forward for approval at the first Senate meeting of the academic year (October 2023).

Instructors should indicate if this technology can be used in a course and if so, what the parameters of its use will be. Generative AI has distinct impacts on course assessment practices. Instructors have the most immediate sense of the potential impacts on their courses, and they are best placed to make key decisions about whether generative AI fits with their learning outcomes. It is essential, then, that instructors speak to their classes about their perspectives on generative AI and detail the conditions for its use in their courses. 

(from the General Statement from the Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning) on ChatGPT and Generative AI, February 2023)

Instructors should include a syllabus statement to advise students on the use of generative AI tools. The first three statements were developed by the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and shared with permission. 

  • Permitted with citation:
    • Students must submit their own work and cite the work that is not theirs. Generative AI writing tools such as ChatGPT are welcome in this class, provided you cite the material that they generate. Any other use constitutes a departure from academic integrity.
  • Permitted in specific assignments, with citation:
    • Students must submit their own work and cite the work that is not theirs. Generative AI writing tools such as ChatGPT are only permissible when explicitly noted in the assignment instructions. In these cases, be sure to cite the material that they generate. Any other use constitutes a departure from academic integrity.
  • Not permitted:
    • Using generative AI writing tools such as ChatGPT in your submitted work is not permitted in this class. This type of use constitutes a departure from academic integrity. 
    • Original work, completed wholly by you, is expected to be submitted in this course. The use of an artificial intelligence tool like ChatGPT is not permitted.

(from Update to Faculty Deans and Associate Deans (Teaching and Learning) from Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning) on Turnitin's new AI Detection Tool, April 2023)

Third-party tools designed to detect AI-generative text should not be used to check student work. No current evidence exists that demonstrates that any third-party AI-detection tool reliably works to detect text generated by artificial intelligence. Submitting students’ work to AI detection software without student permission is a breach of the student’s privacy and intellectual property, and as such third-party AI-detection tools should not be used.

(from Update to Faculty Deans and Associate Deans (Teaching and Learning) from Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning) on Turnitin's new AI Detection Tool, April 2023)

As we enter a new academic year, the influence of artificial intelligence tools on teaching and learning will continue to be an area of focus for the Vice Provost, Teaching and Learning portfolio. We will continue to engage in consultation and research with the aim to advise and support the institution, academic units and instructors on the implications and opportunities presented when using this technology in our classrooms.

For further review, the Centre for Teaching and Learning has developed further resources introducing large language AI models and their impact on teaching.

August 2023.

General Statement from the Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning) on ChatGPT and Generative AI - February 22, 2023

Discussions of the impact of ChatGPT and generative AI technologies range from those heralding the opening of an entirely new era of educational innovation to those condemning the emerging technology as something which will bring about the end of the essay, undermine the development of creative thinking and originality, and lead to an epidemic of plagiarism. What is clear from reading even a small sample of these essays, blogs, tweets, and other commentaries is that we must confront, understand and attempt to manage the use of this technology in higher education.


While I am beginning formal discussions across the Faculties and Schools, it is apparent that many members of the Queen's community are looking for some general guidance on our approach to the management of these generative AI technologies. In discussions with Deans, Associate Deans, instructors and staff, I would like to suggest the following principles to guide our initial approach to generative AI:

  • Queen’s will not ban the use of generative AI technologies.
    • This technology has already entered the educational system, is very difficult to detect, and is so widespread that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to prevent its use. In addition, many persuasive arguments have been made about the potential positive uses of generative AI
  • Instructors should indicate if this technology can be used in a course and if so, what the parameters of its use will be.
    • It is clear that generative AI has distinct impacts on course assessment practices. Instructors have the most immediate sense of the potential impacts on their courses, and they are best placed to make key decisions about whether or not generative AI fits with their learning outcomes. It is essential, then, that instructors speak to their classes about their perspectives on generative AI and the conditions for its use in their courses.
  • Inappropriate use of Generative AI would constitute a departure from academic integrity since it involves a misrepresentation of the student’s work and abilities.
    • Among the core values of academic integrity are honesty and fairness that establish a framework for teaching and learning for both undergraduate and graduate students at Queen’s. Honesty is manifest in "presenting one's own academic work" and "acknowledging dependence on the ideas or words" of any other source. Fairness involves a "full acknowledgement" of sources. The use of generative AI instruments without the consent of the instructor or proper acknowledgement of these sources compromises the foundation for a community of open exchange of ideas. In the terms of the departures from academic integrity, it also can potentially be considered a "use of unauthorized materials," depending on how the instructor frames the course requirements. (See the Academic Integrity Policy Statement and the Academic Integrity Procedures -- Requirements of Faculties and Schools).

More discussion will follow, and there will be further consultation across the university community. It is essential, however, that we all learn as much as possible about generative AI and consider the immediate implications for our courses. I know that the Deans and Associate Deans in each Faculty and School are developing approaches to the use of generative AI as it impacts their particular disciplines.


John Pierce, Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning)

Resources

Predictive language models such as ChatGPT are technologies that use large statistical models to generate natural-sounding text. The technology ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI, is powerful enough to generate text-based responses like letters, recipes, essays, songs, etc. Essentially, it does a very good job of predicting what a human would write next; however, it does not understand the content it generates or determine whether or not the information is misleading (Weidinger, et al., 2022).

Generative AI in Teaching and Learning

 

The Emergency and Assistance Contacts poster is displayed in classrooms throughout Queen's University. The link to download the template for this poster is below. Please complete the location information at the bottom of the poster before displaying. 

Emergency and Assistance Contacts Poster

Guidelines

content to be added in the near future