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Academic Center for Excellence Academic Skill Development Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies First-Generation Initiative Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs

Assistive technology helps all students – Part 2

Assistive technology can enhance the academic life of neurodivergent and neurotypical students alike. In part 1, we touched on text-to-speech software and browser extensions that make Canvas easier to use. If you missed it, check it out! Here in part 2, we’ll take a look at mindfulness software and AI.

Recent, long-term scientific studies suggest that mindfulness leads to academic success not just for students with ADHD, but all students. Just 20 minutes of daily meditation or meditative prayer can decrease rumination, emotional volatility, and anxiety, and increase memory, focus, and cognitive flexibility. For more information, check out apps like Headspace, Smiling Mind, and the Apple Mindfulness App.

Researchers are also identifying how ChatGPT and other AI tools can assist students with disabilities, such as exploring research topics, brainstorming self-advocacy conversation starters, and providing activity ideas for self-care. Some uses of AI are not useful for learning, however: having AI write even part an assignment is plagiarism; overreliance on AI leads to decreased comprehension due to a lack of engagement with course material; and information provided by AI may not be factually based or able to be sourced. Regardless, students should always consult with their instructors before using AI in a class.

Assistive technology helps to create an inclusive environment where students of all kinds, not just those with disabilities, can participate and engage. For more information, contact Disability Accommodations and Success Strategies (DASS) at dass@smu.edu or 214-768-1470.

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Academic Center for Excellence Academic Skill Development Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies First-Generation Initiative Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs

2024 Extra Mile Award winners

Every spring for the Hilltop Excellence Awards, Disability Accommodations and Success Strategies‘ student organization, Students for New Learning (SNL), presents two or three instructors with the Extra Mile Award. This award recognizes teaching excellence and sensitivity when working with neurodivergent students.

This year, SNL has recognized: Pamela Corley, Department of Political Science; C.J. Enloe, World Languages and Literature – Spanish; and Shon Phillips, English. Watch the official presentation video here.

Congratulations to our winners! Thank you for helping to make SMU a welcoming place for neurodivergent students and “going the extra mile” to help them succeed.

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Academic Center for Excellence Academic Skill Development Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies First-Generation Initiative Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs

Assistive technology helps all students – part 1

We at Disability Accommodations and Success Strategies (DASS) see how invaluable assistive technology is in the life of a student with a disability, but we want to share how this tech can help anyone. In the first of a two-part post, we’ll look at the text-to-speech software Kurzweil, and browser extensions that make Canvas more user-friendly. 

Kurzweil reads electronic text aloud, and so students who are blind, have low vision, and many who are dyslexic rely heavily on it or similar apps. Students with ADHD, ESL students, students with a preference for auditory learning, and even those just struggling to focus find it easier to follow along as the text is read to them. Kurzweil is available for download to all SMU students through DASS, Academic Development of Student-Athletes (ADSA), and Fondren Library.

Academic counselors here at DASS and in Academic Skill Development (ASD), see students struggle to find posted assignments, rubrics, and important dates on Canvas. Two Chrome browser extensions available for download at the Chrome Web Store might help: Tasks for Canvas and Better Canvas.

Tasks for Canvas presents many ways to organize and bring important things front and center, including class announcements. It “gamifies” assignments with a progress wheel and helps the student break a task into smaller parts, then tracks their progress.

The second extension, Better Canvas, is more for cosmetic changes to the layout making it easier to see and get to the most important parts of each Canvas page. It is like Tasks but allows more creativity in its use of colors, dark/light modes, and themes.

Stay tuned for part two next week when we’ll consider mindfulness apps and AI!

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Academic Devleopment of Student-Athletes (ADSA) Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies Honors and Scholars Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs University Testing Center

New room numbers at the University Testing Center

As part of the renovation of the Scholars’ Den in Clements Hall, room numbers for the University Testing Center (UTC) have changed.

Visitors will still access the UTC at the west end of the Clements Hall basement in suite G15, most directly using the side entrance facing Dallas Hall. Students and professors are to check in at the testing office (now renumbered to room G28) for test administrations and completed test pickup. Students will continue to be assigned to testing labs identified as “Peruna,” “Hilltop,” and “Varsity.”

Room number identification will be updated on the UTC website, the UTC portal for test registration, and in information handouts for both students and professors.

Please contact the UTC at 214-768-6064 or universitytestingcenter@smu.edu with any questions you may have.

 

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Academic Devleopment of Student-Athletes (ADSA) Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies Student Academic Engagement & Success University Testing Center

University Testing Center now accommodates Respondus LockDown Browser for Canvas assessments

The University Testing Center (UTC) is excited to announce a new proctoring software that allows Canvas tests to be administered with the Respondus LockDown Browser (LDB).

The new software, NetSupport School, replaces a previous program, iTalc, that could not facilitate real-time surveillance of students taking Canvas tests with the Respondus LockDown Browser on UTC computers.

With NetSupport Schoolprofessors will no longer have to create non-LDB versions of Canvas tests administered at the UTC — classroom test versions with LDB can now be used without issue.  And, on test day, students will not have to search for a “UTC version” of a Canvas test different from what is given in the classroom.

With its expanded features, NetSupport School streamlines the student and faculty testing experience while enhancing the UTC’s commitment to test integrity and security.

Various academic departments and professors utilizing the testing center suggested this feature and service enhancement, and we are excited to offer this new ability.

For more information, please contact the UTC at 214-768-6064 or universitytestingcenter@smu.edu.

 

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Academic Devleopment of Student-Athletes (ADSA) Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies Office of Engaged Learning Office of General Education Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs University Advising Center University Testing Center

Spring updates from the University Testing Center

Welcome back to campus! It’s hard to believe that the University Testing Center (UTC) has completed its first operation phase since opening in August 2022.  We look forward to continuing our specialized testing services for Disability Accommodations and Success Strategies (DASS) students needing accommodated testing and our student-athletes needing early or make-up testing due to travel during the competitive season.  Beginning this summer, we’ll expand our services to include standard academic make-up testing, fee-based testing for non-SMU students in the local community, and credit-by-exam testing (CLEP) for some SMU courses.

Testing at the UTC is done by appointment weekdays between 8:30 and 3:30 p.m. with extended hours during final exams.  Appointments must be made at least 48 business hours before classroom testing dates using the UTC Portal at www.smu.edu/utcportal.

The UTC Portal’s updated exam submission process allows professors to determine when eligible students can test at the UTC, automatically upload tests by course name and section number, and retrieve completed tests with proctoring documentation. Stop by the UTC in the basement of Clements Hall to tour the facility, meet the staff, and have a one-on-one consultation to make the testing experience easier for you and your students!

Scantron Exam processing at the University Testing Center ends May 10th

The University Testing Center (UTC) scanning and reporting service for exam Scantrons will end after AY 2023-24.  A few faculty members use the service as the migration to Canvas continues, as directed by the Office of the Provost.  This, along with increasing maintenance costs and staffing needs for new testing services at the UTC, was a deciding factor in ending the service.  Official announcements will be sent periodically to faculty users through various channels so they may prepare for alternatives.

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Academic Center for Excellence Academic Devleopment of Student-Athletes (ADSA) Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs

ADSA & SASP Hosting a Staff & Faculty Breakfast on January 11th

Student Academic Engagement and Success (SAES) is hosting two upcoming tours of the Academic Development of Student-Athletes (ADSA) and Student Academic Success Programs (SASP).  Tours will take place at 9 AM and 9:30 AM at the ADSA & SASP offices located in Loyd All-Sports Center. ADSA is located on the 3rd floor, in suite 316. SASP is located on the second floor, in suite 201.  This opportunity is an invitation to all SMU faculty and staff to tour our academic centers and learn more about the support services offered to students! Breakfast and drinks will be available.

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Academic Devleopment of Student-Athletes (ADSA) Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies Honors and Scholars Student Academic Engagement & Success University Testing Center

University Testing Center closed for Fall Break

The University Testing Center will be closed on Monday, October 9th, and Tuesday, October 10th for Fall Break.

Testing will resume on Thursday, October 12th.   

Good luck on midterms, and enjoy the break!

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Academic Devleopment of Student-Athletes (ADSA) Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies Office of General Education Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Success & Retention University Testing Center

University Testing Center welcomes Amie DeRegge as Testing Coordinator

As the University Testing Center (UTC) launches its second year of operation this fall, we are excited to welcome Amie DeRegge as our new Testing Coordinator!

Amie brings over 20 years of experience in student academic records management, having served as a Texas charter high school registrar.  Her passion for serving students and her strengths in data management, multi-tasking, and customer service make her a tremendous addition to the UTC team.

“I’m so happy to work in the University Testing Center.  I love the culture and spirit of SMU and look forward to helping our students reach their academic goals for success in life,” Amie said.

Amie’s arrival at the UTC coincides with more new changes coming to the UTC this fall.  In addition to providing testing services to students receiving accommodations from DASS (Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies), the center will expand testing services to student-athletes during their sport’s competition season.  A migration to test scheduling software in the new UTC Portal will provide additional academic testing and credit-by-exam services to SMU students and the local community.

“It’s an exciting time to be at the UTC and be a part of its growth,” Amie said.  “It provides yet another opportunity to become immersed in the life of SMU.”

Amie enjoys spending time outdoors in her spare time, vacationing with family on the beach, being “Minyama” to her grandkids, and having fun with her pets Sparky and Doc.  She and her husband, Andrew, are proud Mustang parents to their daughter, Molly, an incoming freshman and member of SMU Cheer.

The UTC is certified by the National College Testing Association (NCTA) and adheres to professional standards ensuring exam integrity and accessibility for both examiners and examinees.

 

 

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Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies First-Generation Initiative Student Academic Success Programs

Changes in SASP Staff

 

Dr. Robin Corbett, DASS Coordinator, will be leaving SMU to be closer to her home and family to pursue new endeavors effective 7/7/2023. All student files will be temporarily reassigned until our new staff member arrives. For any questions, please call the office while we’re in this transition – 214-768-1470

We are welcoming the new Coordinator in July and will be introducing her before the fall semester begins.

Please join us in wishing Robin well and thank her for her work with SMU.

Our second change involves the First Gen Initiative.  These programs and student academic support will be overseen by Associate Director, Chris Meyers.  Chris has done an outstanding job working with our students on academic probation and will supervise a new academic counselor to take over those duties.  Chris is excited to work with our first generation students and pick up the program that has grown tremendously over the past three years.  He’ll work hand in hand with the advisor to the First Generation Association, the recognized student organization, to expand the programming and celebrations for these students.  Please contact Chris if you are interested in working with our First Gen students – cmeyers@smu.edu.  Any graduate student interested in joining this program as a graduate assistant should look at the job description on Handshake.