Special arrangements

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These guidelines are intended to help teachers when students need special arrangements to support their learning. More information about applying for special arrangements and the related practical measures is available under Instructions for Students.

 

Special arrangements in the exceptional situation

Remote studying and the exceptional situation in itself is demanding for students. Assuming new ways of studying can take a lot of time and resources. It is important to take this into consideration when planning your course. Estimating the work load of distance teaching can be challenging even for teachers. As a rule, studying remotely is more demanding for students than attending contact teaching. 

Special arrangements can also be different in this exceptional situation. The students that previously needed additional time in examinations will most likely need it in online exams as well. In some courses, examinations have been replaced with written assignments. In that case, additional time to complete the assignment may be necessary.

The schedule of a single course can seem relaxed, but students usually have several courses at the same time. If every course requires weekly assignments, the need for additional time rises from this combination of courses.

Examples

  • Dyslexia causes a need for additional time for assignments and exams, if they include a lot of writing and reading.
  • Attention deficit disorder makes independent studying difficult. Make sure you give clear instructions. Additional time can also be necessary. Some students can benefit from group assignments.
  • Social anxiety or autism spectrum disorders can cause challenges in group activities. If a lecture based course has been replaced with group assignments, special arrangements may be needed. Video conferences can also be difficult for some students, which can increase the risk of dropping the course. Different methods of group work can support studying in these situations.

Tips for teachers

  • Pay attention to the clarity of your instructions on online platforms (short sentences, concrete examples).
  • Be mindful of the students' stress levels; students can feel overwhelmed by e.g. the amount of assignments, unclear instructions, multiple group assignments, technical challenges and/or time management demands.
  • Make sure the course material is easy to access.
  • Be prepared to be flexible with deadlines, you can plan your policy about deadlines beforehand.
  • Think about alternative ways of completing the course in advance.
  • Contact students that seem to struggle with meeting deadlines.

What are special arrangements?

Special arrangements are individual support measures intended to support learning and to promote student equality and accessibility in studies. In accordance with the University’s degree requirements, students in the process of completing their studies or applying to become students are entitled to apply for special arrangements on the basis of a physical handicap, sensory disability, physical or mental illness or problem, a problem related to reading or writing or another cognitive impairment. The arrangements may not include compromising the difficulty of an entrance examination, the objectives of a degree or the learning outcomes of individual courses.

Special arrangements can include:

  • Additional time for completing an examination or returning an assignment
  • A smaller or separate examination room
  • The use of technical aids (computer, induction loop)
  • The use of a personal assistant or interpreter
  • Alternative course completion methods

Assessment of the needs for special arrangements

Special arrangements must be based on an established need. Students must primarily negotiate special teacher arrangements with the teachers of the individual courses or the other degree programme staff. If necessary, teachers can request students present evidence of the need for special arrangements. The evidence can include a medical statement or a statement by another professional or a recommendation issued by the University’s special arrangements expert panel. You are not allowed to take a copy of the evidence or recommendation presented by the student.

The student service points have accessibility liaisons. They maintain a record of students who have been granted the right to special arrangements. The information is confidential. However, the accessibility liaisons can, if necessary, provide information about the special arrangements recommended for a specific student.

For more information and to contact the accessibility liaisons, please send an email to specialneeds@helsinki.fi.

 

Special arrangements expert panel

Sometimes it is difficult to establish whether special arrangements are purposeful or justifiable. You can request the University of Helsinki’s special arrangements expert panel issues a written recommendation on the matter. For more detailed instructions on how to apply for a recommendation, see Instructions for Students. There you will also find a list of situations where it is advisable to apply for a recommendation from the expert panel. For more information on the matter, please contact the counselling psychologists of the special arrangements expert panel at erityisjarjestelyryhma@helsinki.fi.

The special arrangements expert panel has issued general recommendations for accommodating different challenges that can hinder learning in a teaching context.

The recommendations are available under Suosituksia oppimisen erityishaasteisiin (Recommendations for special learning challenges).

Pedagogical solutions can help reduce the need for special arrangements

Special arrangements do not include compromising course learning outcomes. This means that students must meet the established goals of the course even if they require special arrangements. However, teachers can offer alternative completion and assessment methods as long as they are in line with the course learning outcomes. For example, if the objective of the course is to absorb the key theories and concepts in a specific field, the student’s performance can be evaluated on the basis of an oral examination, essay, diary or group work as well as a written examination. As a rule, diverse teaching methods and alternative course completion methods reduce the need for special arrangements. They can be supplemented by supporting the learning processes of each student and finding practical solutions if, for example, separate examination facilities cannot be arranged for everyone.

Solutions that benefit all students include:

· Submitting a list of any difficult concepts outlined in the course content to the students in advance. You can submit the list to the students through, for example, the Moodle course area  or Matskut.

· Not talking at times when students are busy taking notes. Providing sufficient time for taking notes.

· Taking pauses during lectures. Exercise breaks are healthy!

· Avoiding long assignments. Discussing any written instructions.

For more useful tips on how to address special challenges in a teaching situation, see Recommendations for special learning challenges.

Examples of special arrangements in examination situations

If a student needs special arrangements, you can agree on any arrangements and completion methods suitable for helping the student to meet the goals of the course well in advance. If necessary, consult a Student Services accessibility liaison at specialneeds@helsinki.fi or a counselling psychologist of the special arrangements expert panel at erityisjarjestelyryhma@helsinki.fi.

 Examples of special arrangements in examination situations:

  • In an examination situation, special arrangements usually refer to additional time, the use of a computer or a separate examination room.
  • If a student needs a separate examination room, ask them to contact Examination Services by email at specialneeds@helsinki.fi no later than 10 days prior to the examination.
  • Students entitled to special arrangements must register for examinations as usual in accordance with the faculty or degree programme instructions. Special arrangements are primarily offered in the normal examination room. All campuses have special examination rooms. Being entitled to additional time does not constitute sufficient grounds for completing an examination in a special examination room. 
  • When a student needs additional time to complete an examination due to a handicap, illness or other reason (e.g. dyslexia), the recommended amount of additional time is 30 minutes per examination of less than three hours and one hour per examination of more than three hours. The recommendation only applies to completing studies, not to entrance examinations. Exceptions can be made if, for example, an examination is extensive and the examination material is only provided in the examination situation or a student has numerous grounds for special arrangements.
  • Students can be offered the chance to complete an electronic examination.

For more useful tips on how to address special challenges in a teaching situation, see Recommendations for special learning challenges.

 

See also the Instructions for Students

You will find related content for students on the Instructions for Students Service.