The Chinese University of Hong Kong (HONG KONG)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN22 Proceedings
Publication year: 2022
Page: 130 (abstract only)
ISBN: 978-84-09-42484-9
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2022.0044
Conference name: 14th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2022
Location: Palma, Spain
Following the second publication of the Government White Paper in Hong Kong in 1995, higher education is expected to make available for academically qualified students with special educational needs. The growing presence of students with SEN in higher education is a new phenomenon that had never been considered before. This project aims to investigate the difficulties the SEN students faced in online classroom. However, up till now only a limited number of research is available in the field relating to the adaptation of SEN students to the changes in the learning environment in higher education during this new pandemic as most of the research on SEN students in Hong Kong targeted on primary and secondary education. A further and more detailed understanding of such issues would enable us to gain knowledge of the challenges and difficulties the SEN students are facing in higher education and provide insights for educators on how to cater for the learning needs of these diverse groups of students in an online learning environment.

Both qualitative interviews and quantitative online surveys were used to evaluate the experiences of the SEN students in online learning. 400 staff, 1 disability services manager and 122 undergraduate SEN students were invited to complete an online survey. SEN students, teachers and staff were invited to participate in an in-depth interview. Finally, 4 micromodules were prepared to address the knowledge gap in addressing SEN education in higher education.

A representative group of 8 SEN students and 23 teachers answered the questionnaires while 10 SEN students, 8 teachers and 2 staff were interviewed in January 2021. Findings showed that physical disabled students had experienced more difficulties in technology-related issues. Non-physical disabled students found it difficult to concentrate on ZOOM lessons and therefore mentally overloaded. Most of the SEN students interviewed have mental illnesses that they stressed out easily. Teachers’ main difficulty was being unable to identify SEN students in online classes, and 60% of these teachers perceived that the support provided for teachers in teaching SEN students in university was not adequate. Pedagogical suggestions for teachers were recommended for improvement.

Recommendation/ Conclusion:
To cater for the learning needs of SEN students in the university environment, pedagogical suggestions were given, such as adopting the universal principles in instructional design; encouraging peer support; constructing a more structured learning environment; and providing individual consultations as well as individualized learning plan in curriculum design and assessment. Also, future SEN research in higher education can be classified into 3 types:
(1) SEN students with mental issues;
(2) SEN students with physical needs such as students with physical handicapped, visual and hearing impairment and
(3) SEN students with non-physical needs such as students with ASD, ADHD and Dyslexia and etc.

Further research in SEN education in the university level to fill in this part of the knowledge gap is urgently needed.
Disabilities, SEN, Special Educational Needs, Physical disabilities, ADHD, Autism, Mental illnesses, Online Learning, University Education, Universal Design.