UB receives $ 293,000 to support neurodiverse computer science students

The grant will fund neurodiversity training for computer science teachers; the program will be made available to other colleges

BUFFALO, NY – To create more inclusive classrooms that recognize students’ neurodiversity, the University of Buffalo received a $ 293,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to create micro-credit training courses for students. computer teachers.

The two-year grant will help improve the educational experiences of neurodivergent students who may have difficulty succeeding in courses designed for neurotypical students.

Neurodivergent people are people with neurological differences that affect the way they process information, communicate, and view the world. They include people with various neurological conditions, some of which are attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorders, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and Gilles de la Tourette syndrome.

Micro Certificates – a miniature course that provides training in specific skills – will be designed and tested by the UB Open Education Research Lab, an initiative to improve and expand the use of free educational technologies and materials.

By displaying micro-accreditations on their faculty profile, IT professors can show their preparation and willingness to learn more about student needs. Micro-accreditations also serve as an indicator of safe space by allowing neurodivergent students to identify faculty trained to meet their needs, as well as helping students choose mentors or choose courses, says Sam Abramovich , PhD, Principal Investigator of the Grant and Director of the UB Open Education Research Lab.

Neurodivergent students are often drawn to STEM career paths and possess characteristics that would make them valuable members of the US IT workforce, but drop out before graduation when they encounter practical misaligned teaching or instructors who discourage accommodations and supports for students with invisible disabilities, “says Abramovich, also associate professor of learning, teaching and information science at the Graduate School of Education of the UB.

“These micro-degrees will give instructors the training they need to transform their practice and create a belonging ecosystem for neurodiverse undergraduate computer science students,” he says.

Additional investigators include Co-Principal Investigator Adrienne Decker, PhD, Assistant Professor of Engineering Education at the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; Rachel Bonnette, PhD, JD, postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Learning and Teaching, UB Graduate School of Education; and Gregory Fabiano, PhD, professor of psychology at Florida International University.

The training will be co-designed by UB faculty and students, and build on a previous pilot course that improved the teaching methods of instructors educating students with ADHD.

Upon completion, the UB Open Education Research Lab will publish the micro-degrees and program on its website allow other colleges and universities to freely access and update the tools.

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