Study Archive

Access 101: Universal Design in Universities

Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.”1
–Ron Mace, Founder, Center for Universal Design

Universal Design in Universities

Universal Design in Universities

Universal Design in Universities

What your college or disability services office will make available to students with disabilities often consists of accommodations specifically tailored to a particular individual or type of disability. Examples include a wheelchair-accessible computer desk or tactile information on lab instruments. But through your own efforts, you may be able to offer additional accommodations that, it is hoped, will have an impact on the entire class.

What follows is a brief introduction to the principles of Universal Design (UD) as they apply to common classroom technologies. Typically, at the university level, lecture-course equipment purchases for students with disabilities are made at the institute level. However, in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics courses, instructors often specify equipment. Either way, knowing a little bit about universal design will help you work with your students with disabilities, and as we will see later, it may help you improve your teaching for all students.

Universal Design in Universities large keyboard

Mechanical Large Keyboard

Image 1. Large print keyboard for low-vision users that is also useful for students with normal vision who are not adept at using a keyboard. (Image courtesy of VisiKey)

Universal Design in the classroom allows you to provide adaptations that allow students with disabilities to complete coursework and receive an education equivalent to all other students – with some small, easy alterations to your normal lecture delivery.

Professors are often surprised to find all students interested in the accommodations, and benefiting from them in their coursework. Successful and well-designed adaptations may make coursework and labs more approachable and effective for all students, not only those with disabilities.

Potential for Truly Universal Benefits

To appreciate the potential for universally designed technologies of all kinds, one need look no further than the sidewalk.

In the U.S., the first curb cuts were constructed in California around 1970. By 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 mandated their use. The curb cut is a perfect example of universal design principles applied to public spaces. Curb cuts were originally designed to accommodate users of wheeled mobility devices such as wheelchairs. But curbs are as much a barrier to walkers with strollers or shopping carts as to users of wheeled mobility devices.

A curb cut resolves this problem for a wide range of people in a way that integrates the accommodation into the everyday architecture of the space. Assistive teaching methods can be similarly integrated into educational experiences, and we recommend following the principle of “design for all” in classroom accommodations to the extent possible.

Guidelines for Choosing Classroom Supplies

Understanding that it is nearly impossible for one product to solve all accessibility and usability problems, the following criteria should be used to determine whether a product follows the principals of universal design.

  • Equitable Use: The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
  • Flexibility: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
  • Simple and Intuitive: Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
  • Perceptible Information: The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.
  • Tolerance of Error: The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
  • Low Physical Effort: The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.
  • Size and Space for Approach and Use: Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user’s body size, posture, or mobility.2

Classroom Product Example

Image 3. Sanford® Expo® Dry-Eraser with Precision Point. Cost: ~$6

Image courtesy of Sanford, a Newell Rubbermaid Company

Image 4. Outline of Sanford® Eraser from Image 3 showing the narrow and wide ends of the products and how the eraser is inserted into the cradle.

A Sample Evaluation

How well does the eraser above meet these criteria?

  • Equitable Use: Product features extend usability to people with low vision, dexterity and mobility issues. (see Image 3)
  • Flexibility: Wide and narrow ends for erasing large or small areas. Accommodates both left and right-handed users. (See Image 4)
  • Simple and Intuitive: Finger grips make it easier to understand how the eraser is gripped in the hand. The shape of the cradle also indicates which direction the eraser goes in the cradle. (See Image 4)
  • Perceptible Information: Necessary information, such as which side goes on the board is obvious by the flatness of the eraser-side and the texture of the pad. Finger grips are indicated using a change in color and texture.
  • Tolerance of Error: The eraser is made of plastic which prevents injury from dropping the product. Pads are replaceable in case the pad gets completely used or somehow destroyed.
  • Low Physical Effort: The ergonomic design reduces the effort needed to grasp the eraser.
  • Size and Space for Approach and Use: The handle is sized to fit most hands and the pad is large enough to erase board in a small amount of time.

Access 101: Low Vision and Blindness

Low Vision and Blindness

Blindness and low vision are more common in the student population than one might think. The lack of recognition of the problem is due in part to the fact that many
students with vision problems do not identify themselves as such or do not wish to bring attention to their disability for one

Low Vision and Blindness

Low Vision and Blindness

Reason or another. One student described her experience with partial sightedness:

“Hi, my name is [Amanda] and I’m 15. I am a ‘partial’ who is totally blind in one eye and partial in the other eye. I have much difficulty seeing the board in class and reading what is on the projectors. I really hate talking to teachers about my eyesight issues because they always give me pity after I do so and I don’t want their charity. What do you think I should do?? I get good grades (my GPA this last quarter was a 3.67 and I’m taking an honors [English] class) and am not worried about falling behind.

It’s just that there is so much strain put between the teacher and me because of my eyesight (or lack thereof). Even if I did talk to them, what would I say? ‘Hi, my name is Amanda…I’m a partial …I may need some help with stuff…but I really don’t want help with EVERYTHING because I know that’s what you’ll do now because I told you… ’ That’d go great!”1 ~ Amanda

Rate of Occurrence

Students with partial blindness or low vision like Amanda aren’t all that rare. A 1998 survey of college freshmen indicated that about 1.1% percent of them say they are either partially sighted or blind. Among the population of college freshmen with disabilities, about 13% of the disabilities are visual impairments. Often, the cause of blindness is diabetes.2

Classroom Success Rates

Unfortunately, only about 45% of people with severe visual impairment or blindness are able to complete high school, compared to a graduate rate of about 80% for the normally sighted. Visually impaired students, at least at the high school level, perform poorly in standardized tests for reading, although they perform almost as well as their sighted peers on math and problem-solving tests.

The data from high school students suggests that it will be difficult for these students to gain admission to universities, but those who do may find that their disabilities are an even greater barrier in an intensified academic atmosphere.2

Level of Need

There are many types of visual impairments and therefore many levels of need. In fact, students with minor impairments and those who prefer to work independently may require little or no help.

Tasks that students with visual impairments may find difficult

  • Reading and writing on chalkboards, dry-erase boards, bulletin boards, and posters.
  • Reading and completing written assignments
  • Giving presentations
  • Watching videos
  • Finding items in the classroom or lab
  • Moving around the classroom or lab

Many of these problems can be corrected by providing the material in a different format such as large print, Braille, or electronic files. The solution may also include moving the student to a better position in the classroom or providing assistive technology. We will discuss these options and more in the accommodations section.

1″Visual Impairments.” Jan 2004. National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities 31 Oct 2007.

2C. Henderson, Update on College Freshmen with Disabilities. Washington, DC: American Council on Education; HEATH Resource Center, 1999,

STEM Reading Skills & Summary of Reading Strategies

Reading Strategies for Math & Science Based Courses

  • Your textbook is a resource and not a burden
  • Science and math textbooks have different reading approaches
  • Math and science or both may be required for your major or profession.
  • Reading and studying math, science, engineering and technology require different skills from other disciplines .
  • Practicing the reading skills that follow improves comprehension, mastery, and amount of study time.
  • Taking notes about, in, and on the reading material is time well spent

Mathematics and science are required for an ever growing number of majors and occupations. In fact, most college majors require not only college algebra but also higher level math such as calculus..

Math and science are “doing” subjects, not “reading” subjects like some of the humanities and social sciences. The chart below is a simple example of the complexities you will find in your math and science readings.

Mathematically-based subjects require a progressive step-by-step learning of fundamentals called scaffolding that allows you to build each new skill upon a prior skill or concept already mastered. This progression of learning demands subject mastery and comprehension not memorization.

It is a certainty that math or science – or both – will be a part of your undergraduate program. Therefore, you need to start practicing the strategies in this section if you want to find success in your math and science courses and get more out of your reading and studying time.

Summary of Reading Strategies

  1. eading strategies take practice. In the beginning employing these strategies may seem to extend your reading time, but you will make it up when it comes to test preparation and concept mastery.
  2. Math and Science textbooks use different strategies.
  3. Taking shortcuts with your reading will negatively impact your education.
  4. STEM professions do even more reading than STEM students to keep up with the research in their fields. Learn how to read STEM materials now.
  5. Studying more or longer doesn’t mean studying well. Take advantage of the strategies in this and other modules to improve your learning and give you more time to enjoy college.
  6. Use all the resources available to you when something is confusing including re-reading the text, any graphs, charts, or tables, the publisher’s web site for the textbook, study partners, your study group, a tutor, the TA for your class, and obviously, the instructor (that’s part of why they offer office hours).
  7. Always complete your assigned readings before each class.
  8. Learn to manage your time effectively (see module on Time Management). If you can’t complete your readings on time before class, you might need some Time Management skills.
 

Working with Mentees: Effective Strategies for Providing Quality Youth Mentoring in Schools and Communities

Read the following excerpt from Effective Strategies for Providing Quality Youth Mentoring in Schools and Communities. The material in this article does not necessarily reflect any guidelines for BreakThru but serve to stimulate discussion regarding mentoring.

Working with Mentees

Working with Mentees

Working with Mentees

1. Commitment to Learning [Mentees] needs to develop a lifelong commitment to education and learning. The developmental assets in this category include:

  • The motivation for achievement— [Mentee] is motivated to do well in school
  • School engagement—[Mentee] is actively engaged in learning
  • Homework—[Mentee] reports doing at least one hour of homework every school day
  • Bonding to school—[Mentee] cares about her or his school
  • Reading for pleasure—[Mentee] reads for pleasure three or more hours per week

2. Positive Values [Mentees] need to develop strong values that guide their choices. The developmental assets in this category include:

  • Caring—[Mentee] places a high value on helping other people
  • Equality and social justice—[Mentee] places a high value on promoting equality and reducing hunger and poverty
  • Integrity—[Mentee] acts on convictions and stands up for her or his beliefs
  • Honesty—[Mentee] “tells the truth even when it is not easy”
  • Responsibility—[Mentee] accepts and takes personal responsibility
  • Restraint—[Mentee] believes it is important not to be sexually active or to use alcohol or other drugs

3. Social Competencies [Mentees] need skills and competencies that equip them to make positive choices, to build relationships, and to succeed in life. The developmental assets in this category include:

  • Planning and decision making—[Mentee] knows how to plan ahead and make choices
  • Interpersonal competence—[Mentee] has empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills
  • Cultural competence—[Mentee] has knowledge of and comfort with people of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds
  • Resistance skills—[Mentee] can resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations
  • Peaceful conflict resolution—[Mentee] seeks to resolve conflict nonviolently

4. Positive Identity [Mentees] need a strong sense of their own power, purpose, worth, and promise. The developmental assets in this category include:

  • Personal power—[Mentee] feels he or she has control over “things that happen to me”
  • Self-esteem—[Mentee] reports having a high self-esteem
  • Sense of purpose—[Mentee] reports that “my life has a purpose”
  • A positive view of personal future—[Mentee] is optimistic about her or his personal future

Frequently Asked Questions About Transitions to College (Disabilities)

Transition FAQ

Today, more high school students with disabilities are planning to continue their education in postsecondary schools. Getting to college involves considerable preparation and planning. As a student with a disability, you need to understand your rights and responsibilities as well as the responsibilities postsecondary schools have toward you. The following questions and answers will improve your opportunity to succeed as you enter postsecondary education.

Transitions to College

Transitions to College

1. Are there differences in my rights as a student with a disability between high school and college?

Yes. The legal mandates prohibiting discrimination against individuals with disabilities affect the secondary and postsecondary educational systems differently. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) directs secondary schools to identify, evaluate, and serve students at no cost to the family.

In contrast, postsecondary schools are under no obligation to seek out students with disabilities and offer support. Students must self identify, provide appropriate documentation of a disability, and request specific accommodations each semester. The following table outlines the legal differences between high school and college.

2. Can I receive accommodations on college entrance examinations?

Yes. Pre-college examination (PSAT, SAT, ACT, etc.) scores are important for acceptance into college. Talk with your school counselor about disability-related test accommodations. Appropriate accommodations can assist you in demonstrating your full knowledge and abilities.

3. May a postsecondary school deny my admission because I have a disability?

No. Postsecondary institutions may not ask about disability on the admissions application. Call or visit the web site of the institutions you hope to attend and learn about the entrance requirements. Should you be denied admission and believe your disability impacted your GPA, test scores, or other entrance requirements, ask the institution about admission appeal procedures. You may be able to provide the admissions office with specifics on how your disability impacted your performance.

4. Do I have to inform a postsecondary school that I have a disability?

No. Disclosure of a disability is always voluntary. However, if you want to use academic accommodations, you must provide documentation of your disability to the appropriate school office.

5. What academic adjustments must a postsecondary school provide?

To be successful in college, many students with disabilities find it necessary to utilize assistance from the campus disability services office. Reasonable academic accommodations are determined based on your disability documentation and individual needs. Accommodations may include a reduced course load, note takers, sign language interpreters, extended time for testing, and alternative text. Assistive technology such as screen readers, voice recognition or other adaptive software or hardware may also be available to assist students in completing school work.

It is important to note that postsecondary schools are not required to provide accommodations that fundamentally alter the essential nature of a program or would result in undue financial burdens. Additionally, postsecondary schools do not have to provide services of a personal nature like personal attendants, readers for personal use or study, or services such as tutoring and typing.

6. How do I request academic accommodations?

You first must inform the school’s disability services office that you have a disability and need an academic adjustment. Your postsecondary school will require you to provide documentation of your disability and follow procedures to request an academic adjustment. Postsecondary schools generally include information on the procedures and contacts for requesting an academic adjustment in brochures, handbooks, or on the web site.

7. What documentation should I provide?

Each postsecondary school sets its own standards for documentation. Most require current documentation (within 3 years) prepared by an appropriate professional, such as a medical doctor, psychologist or another qualified diagnostician. The documentation should include a diagnosis of your current disability; the date of the diagnosis; how the diagnosis was reached; the credentials of the professional; and how the disability affects your academic performance. The documentation should provide enough information for you and your school to determine appropriate academic adjustments. The Board of Regents for the University System of Georgia has established specific documentation standards for USG institutions.

The Individualized Education Program (IEP), Section 504 plan, or Summary of Performance (SOP) developed by your high school is not sufficient documentation for postsecondary schools. If your documentation does not meet the postsecondary school’s requirements, ask a school official to tell you what additional documentation you need. Note, you may need a new evaluation in order to qualify for academic adjustments.

8. Who has to pay for a new evaluation?

Postsecondary schools are not required to conduct or pay for a new disability evaluation. This may mean that you have to pay an appropriate professional for an evaluation. Regents’ Centers for Learning Disorders offer a comprehensive evaluation that meets the Board of Regents standards for $500. Students must be either a high school senior transitioning to college or a college student. You may also qualify for an evaluation at no cost to you through your state vocational rehabilitation agency. You may locate your state vocational rehabilitation agency through the Department of Education Web page

9. What if the academic accommodation is not working?

Let the disability office know that the accommodation is not working as you expected. Do not wait for the course to finish. It may be too late to correct the problem. You and your contact in the disability services office should work together to resolve any problems.

10. May a postsecondary school charge me for providing an academic adjustment?

No. Furthermore, it may not charge students with disabilities more for participating in its programs or activities than it charges students who do not have disabilities.

11. What can I do to be better prepared for the college experience?

  • Understand your learning style and how you best process information and apply this to your studying. Develop effective strategies for note taking, reading texts, and test-taking. If your study skills are weak, ask your counselor for the resources available to you.
  • Computer and network resources are essential in college. Colleges expect students to be able to use word processing, email, Internet, and other programs on a regular basis. By using computer technology for such tasks as reading and writing, communication, and searching the Internet, students with disabilities are capable of handling a wider range of activities independently. Take advantage of opportunities in high school to learn and use not only computer technologies but assistive technology. Students with disabilities often face barriers to using computing resources. Special programs and hardware such as speech to text, word prediction, keyboards, pointers, and screen magnifiers can assist students in using computing technology.
  • In college, you are responsible for requesting accommodations, speaking to faculty, and seeking out resources. You must be able to understand your needs and be able to advocate for yourself in order to be successful in your academic pursuits. Students with disabilities who understand their rights and responsibilities are much better equipped to succeed in postsecondary school. Rely on the support of family, friends and fellow students, including those with disabilities. Know your abilities and make the most of them, and believe in yourself.

Science, Math and Test Anxiety, Breakthrough Learning Objectives

Dealing with Anxiety

Question: It’s 120 miles to Atlanta and you drive there at 60 miles per hour. How long will it take you to get to Atlanta?

Are you thinking about solving the problem or are you thinking, “Oh no? It’s one of those word problems?” If you are thinking “Oh no,” then you may be experiencing science and math anxiety.

Test Anxiety

Test Anxiety

BreakThru Learning Objectives

  • Explain why anxiety is described as a learned behavior.
  • Describe the relationship between anxiety and memory; give personal examples.
  • List the methods you have or wish to implement to reduce anxiety and improve your STEM performance.

Recognizing Anxiety

Factors Influencing Anxiety

  • I am scared about using chemicals. What if I hurt myself?
  • I can’t stand to look at the internal organs of frogs. The smell is horrible.
  • When I look at a math problem, my mind goes blank. I feel stupid, and I can’t remember how to do the simplest problems.
  • I’ve never been successful in any math class. Some people can do the math, some can’t. I can’t.

These students are expressing science/math anxiety, a feeling of intense frustration or helplessness about the ability to perform science or math. Science/math anxiety is a common problem for many high school and college students. Anxiety affects more than taking tests. It can also impact the way you do your homework, study, or even choose your career. When you are worried and anxious about studying or performing in academic situations, you may not be able to demonstrate your actual level of knowledge and skills. Understanding and reducing your anxiety can have a positive impact on your science/math performance.

Causes of Test Anxiety

Bad experiences with science and math beginning in elementary school are the leading cause of academic anxiety. Check out these flashbacks:

  • Difficulty memorizing multiplication tables
  • Problem understanding chemistry symbols
  • Failure to complete a math problem at the blackboard
  • Classmates finishing problems faster than you
  • Teacher saying, “You’re just not good in science or math”
  • Being called stupid or punished for not understanding

These experiences can become deeply rooted and form the basis of anxiety. Every time you open a science or math book to do homework or sit for a test, you replay those memories and believe you are not good in the subject. If you believe that you are not good in science or math, you probably will not do well.

Positive Self-Talk

All of us have an internal dialogue or self-talk. What we say to ourselves in response to an event determines our feeling about the event. As an example, a student starts saying to himself that he is going to fail the math test and might as well turn in his paper and drop the class. The negative self-talk (fail the math test) leads to feelings of anxiety and hopelessness.

How do think this student will perform on the test? Students with science or math anxiety usually use negative self-talk which can increase the anxiety, reduce the ability of the working memory to process information, and result in poor grades.

BreakThru Learning Objectives

  • Explain why anxiety is described as a learned behavior.
  • Describe the relationship between anxiety and memory; give personal examples.
  • List the methods you have or wish to implement to reduce anxiety and improve your STEM performance.

Introduction: Adventures in STEM & Virtual Environments

Adventures in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) & Virtual Worlds

Why is the sky blue? Why can’t you see the wind? What’s the biggest number in the world?

Can you answer these questions? These are some of our earliest questions about STEM studies. We all are born curious, and the more we learn about the world and how it works, the more confident we feel. We become less afraid of the universe. The big question is, why do so many of us stop asking such questions?

Adventures in STEM & Virtual Environments

Adventures in STEM & Virtual Environments

Who needs STEM? Everyone, so don’t be STEM-phobic.

Try to go one day without using…

Science. Keep in mind that modern science was born the day we first used fire about 4 million years ago. It is our oldest discipline.
Technology. Maybe if you’re on a survivalist adventure, but you’d have to do without a knife, rope, compass as well.
Engineering. Our world is built by engineers. Maybe shipwrecked on a desert island, but you would quickly turn to engineer to save your life.
Math. Better yet, try to go one day without using any numbers.

STEM and People with Disabilities

Individuals with disabilities often face challenges in pursuing careers and degrees in STEM. They are underrepresented in STEM fields. This video by the DO-IT program out of the University of Washington is an overview of STEM and people with disabilities. DO-IT and BreakThru are National Science Foundation Alliance projects.

Schoolkids’ Bee Study Lands in Prestigious Journal

“A group of elementary schoolchildren in Devon, England recently made a study on how bees identify colors that is, well, groundbreaking. They may be kids, but for the editors of ‘Biology Letters’, their research was anything but child’s play — in fact, it’s being hailed as “a genuine advance in the field” — so much so, the prestigious journal has decided to publish it.” – Treehugger, a Discovery Company by Stephen Messenger, Porto Alegre, Brazil

Scientific Research for Everyone

Today, right now, anyone can do important research if you know how to design an experiment. Or you can accept one of the many opportunities to join existing research endeavors like those offered by NASA, the Discovery Channel, CEISMIC (Georgia Institute of Technology), and others all over the world. Bring enthusiasm.

Who takes STEM classes?

Spock was a STEM graduate, Captain Kirk was a STEM graduate; in fact, everyone on the starship Enterprise (2009) was a STEM graduate.

While that may sound like an exaggeration, on 21st Century Earth the study of STEM is more exciting than even a science-fiction movie.

Actually, many of the people who made the 2009 Star Trek movie have STEM backgrounds. Special effects, computer modeling, graphics, robotics, and storyline all come from STEM knowledge.

Can you write a story about time travel without some basis in science, physics, and math? Can you make a starship or its model without engineering, technology, and computers? But even if you don’t want to go where no one has gone before, if you want to do anything with your life, you will probably need STEM smarts to succeed.

  • Want to work in the music recording industry?
  • Think we can make solar power replace fossil fuels?
  • Want to take care of animals? Want to help heal people?
  • Got an idea for a new video game or social web site?
  • Do you want to invent a new kind of electric instrument?
  1. Want to help the victims of natural disasters rebuild?
  2. Want to predict the weather?
  3. Want to make a car that gets 100 miles per gallon?

Social Networking, the Internet, and Computer Games

  • Want to Tweet, Poke, Prod, share, follow, or friend? All brought to you by STEM scholars and graduates.
  • Youtube, Pandora, Google, and everything on or over the Internet were brought to you by STEM folk. Some of them even created their applications in their spare time (but they had STEM knowledge

NASA Quest Challenges

NASA Quest Challenges are Web-based, interactive explorations designed to engage students in authentic scientific and engineering processes. The solutions relate to issues encountered daily by NASA personnel. Why not take the challenge? Read more.

If the classroom is boring

Unfortunately, many schools have been forced to teach more and more students more and more quickly, and what is lost is the excitement that should be part of every subject, but especially the STEM classes.

We exist in a STEM relevant world and universe. We are controlled by the laws of nature, physics, and math. We use what we learn and invent to make the world better, safer, more fun. While much of what we accomplish may begin in the classroom, those who want more out of life never let it end there. Learning never stops, but our excitement about learning is up to us.

It’s up to you to be Learner-centric

If we’re really lucky we’ll have several teachers who inspire us and get us excited about learning. However, you can make learning fun and excite for yourself.

Take charge of your education; create your own classroom; do your own research; ask the big questions. With the Internet, you never have to be alone in your endeavors. With Mentoring and BreakThru, you will find more worlds and opportunities opening up for you.

BREAKTHRU is a Mentoring and Empowering Program

Too many students have been told that STEM is too hard or that they aren’t smart enough to do good work. STEM can be difficult, but it is made too difficult by poor or lazy or misguided teachers. STEM study is for everyone even if you don’t intend to pursue a career in one of the disciplines.

Too many students are not aware that they can do real science at any age, that they can do research on important issues, that they can help map the universe, that they can make a difference. And make a difference today, not four years from now, but today.

Mentoring can certainly help you with your classes, but more importantly, mentoring can help you apply what you have learned in STEM classes to the things, projects, and ideas that excite you.

BreakThru can help you gain the confidence that others have denied you. Numbers aren’t scary; science isn’t scary; computers and technology are scary, and a car or building isn’t scary. What’s scary are those who teach us to aim too low, to be afraid of the world around us, to be on the outside looking in. STEM is your doorway to new worlds both real and virtual, and BreakThru is your guide to those worlds.

BREAKTHRU: A Virtual and Real World Experience in STEM

Each student participating in BreakThru will have a mentor assigned. Students and mentors will have virtual face-to-face interaction for at least 1 hour/week. Mentors and students may also combine their time for larger group discussions or tutorials.

The mission of BreakThru is to empower students with disabilities to enroll and succeed in STEM classes or programs.

BreakThru is also working on a range of conversation topics meant to empower students in life as well as learning. Some of these conversations include “Mastering Testing Anxiety” “Acquiring Financial Aid” “Time and Project Management” “Study Skills” “Note Taking Strategies” and “Seeking Help from the Learning Institutions.” Mentors will also be completing BreakThru conversations, and teams can use the content to form the foundation of mentoring sessions each week.

Second Life – students, mentors, guest presenters, administrators, and others will meet on BreakThru Island. Second Life is a virtual world where users create their own avatars (representations of themselves) that move and interact with others and the environment. Besides serving as a mentoring platform, it will also enable communication among the BreakThru community. Everyone will be given training in using Second Life as an interactive learning environment.

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