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Access and Opportunity to Learn: Essentials for Academic Engagement

  • Clarence Ng
  • Brendan Bartlett
  • Stephen N. Elliott
Chapter

Abstract

Accessibility—defined as the extent to which a product, environment, or system eliminates barriers and permits equal use of components and services for a diverse population of individuals—is necessary for effective instruction and fair testing. To the extent that instruction, instructional materials, and tests are not accessible, engagement is undermined, learning is likely to be incomplete, and inferences made from observations and test results are likely to be underestimated of a student’s actual knowledge and skills. In this chapter, we focus on access to meaningful learning opportunities that optimize students’ engagement in instruction and classroom assessments and conceptualize accessibility to instructional materials and classroom tests as important enablers of meaningful and active participation. The engagement-enhancing strategies featured are considered by many to focus primarily on cognitive aspects of students’ learning; however, with more robust cognitive engagement often comes more successful learning experiences, which, in turn, can improve students’ learning behaviors, collaboration with others, and attitudes toward learning, hence reducing educational exclusion in important ways. Thus, the goals of this chapter are first to understand the evolving concepts of access, accessibility, and opportunity in relation to learning; then to examine strategies based on these concepts for increasing cognitive, emotional, and behavioral (social and agentic) engagement for all students; and finally, to translate theory and research-based findings on accessibility into actionable guidelines for teachers.

Keywords

Accessibility Opportunity to learn Universal design for learning Cognitive load theory Instructional adjustments Testing accommodations 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clarence Ng
    • 1
  • Brendan Bartlett
    • 2
  • Stephen N. Elliott
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute for Learning Sciences & Teacher EducationAustralian Catholic UniversityBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Faculty of Education & ArtsAustralian Catholic UniversityVirginiaAustralia
  3. 3.Sanford School of Social and Family DynamicsArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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