Administration of postsecondary Offices for Students with Disabilities: Perceptions of essential job functions

Date of Completion

January 1996


Education, Administration|Education, Special




While support services and programs for students with disabilities have increased at a dramatic rate over the past 20 years, there has been little emphasis in the professional literature on identifying the training needs of the individuals who serve as administrators of Offices for Students with Disabilities (OSD). Identifying and addressing the training needs of these professionals will likely improve the quality of services provided to students with disabilities. However, before this can occur, it is necessary to delineate the essential roles and functions of OSD administrators.^ This study employed job analysis techniques to identify these essential roles and functions. A 54 item survey instrument developed by the researcher verified the importance of these roles and functions as rated by a sample of 800 practicing administrators who were affiliated with the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD), the professional organization for postsecondary OSD personnel. These administrators represented 71 Canadian institutions and 729 institutions in the United States. Responses were obtained from 567 (n = 567) administrators which constituted a response rate of 71%. Descriptive data related to the sample were presented.^ Resultant data were subjected to a common factor analysis, which resulted in six conceptually meaningful factors. The perceived importance of each of these six factors was examined. Results suggested that respondents perceived both direct service and administrative roles as being of primary importance.^ Significant differences between perceptions of importance with respect to selected practitioner, institutional, and programmatic variables were also examined. Results suggested the most meaningful difference was related to program size and size of program staff. Respondents from smaller programs with less staff rated direct service items as more important than respondents who administer larger programs with more professional staff.^ Findings related to this study and suggestions for future research were presented, including the use of these results to systematically identify the training and preparation needs of practicing administrators, and the use of these results as the starting point for the development of professional standards for the field of postsecondary disability services. ^