Equity Through Accessibility: Understanding Faculty and Staff Perceptions of Community College Students with a Disability in Stem Disciplines Through a Diversity and Inclusion Lens

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ed.D. in Leadership for Organizations


Department of Educational Administration


Advisor: Elizabeth Essex


The foundation of a prosperous society calls for educated citizens to promote social equity in the community and positively contribute to the economy, yet persons with disabilities are often excluded from having the opportunity to engage in society, including the pursuit of education (Lindsay et al., 2018; Procknow et al., 2017). Most community college students come from academic, economic, and socially disadvantaged backgrounds (Rosenbaum, 2018). Thus, community colleges are a fundamental resource for marginalized communities, including students with disabilities (SWD), to access education and training. Community colleges must consider that supporting SWD is more than maintaining compliance. Students with a disability have a sense of identity capable of influencing diversity in the college experience for all college community members (Meeks & Jain, 2016). Understanding faculty and staff perceptions of SWD will create opportunities to identify social stigma and implicit biases that can shape the introduction of more inclusive institutional practices. This practical action research study employed qualitative methods to examine faculty and staff perceptions of SWD at Metropolitan Community College (MCC) related to student persistence in the STEM disciplines through an equity-oriented lens of inclusion. The study applied a qualitative approach to analyze how accessibility services staff award accommodations and collect feedback from community college STEM faculty on their perception of students with disabilities to recommend more inclusive practices at MCC. As a result of the findings from this study, I propose developing and enhancing professional development (PD) opportunities at MCC for STEM faculty and staff who support college programming. The PD would focus on increasing awareness of disability policy and knowledge of best practices for teaching students with disabilities in a postsecondary environment. Three significant outcomes are to be expected from the implementation of the project. First, MCC faculty will be able to confidently state that they have an increased awareness of disability policy and best practices in the classroom. Second, a more inclusive learning environment will create a stronger sense of belonging among all MCC students. Third, MCC will also experience an increase in students with disabilities completing STEM-related credentials and courses.


accessibility, disability, community college, STEM, action research, faculty perceptions

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