Accommodating Exam Anxiety

On the November 9 edition of The Current, there was a very interesting discussion about the accommodation of disabled students in universities.
The discussion centred on a recent case at the University of Manitoba.  Gábor Lukács, an assistant professor in the Mathematics Department, has gone to court to try to overturn the University’s decision to award a PhD to a student with extreme exam anxiety that he believes has not met the academic requirements for obtaining the degree. The professor was subsequently suspended for three months without pay on the grounds that his actions, according to the University, amounted to harassment of the student and violation of the student’s privacy.  Click here to read a Winnipeg Free Press article on this issue.
This case raises issues of concern for anyone interested in disability, accommodation, education, and academic integrity.  How is disability diagnosed? What is required of a university in order to accommodate the learning styles of all students? What role should test taking play in education? To what extent can the university’s administration intervene in the affairs of the various departments? Depending on how this plays out, this case could have some significant repercussions for the accommodation of disabled students and for higher education more generally.
Marc Workman

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