What is it about?

When college students suffer brain trauma and are diagnosed with a concussion, they must continue to remain engaged with their studies. Students often require academic supports during this time, such as postponed examinations and additional time to complete assignments. These supports are obtained either by an informal request from the student to the faculty member, or by a formal request (504 plan, medical note) sent to the faculty member to follow. We have previously identified that the informal pathway to receiving academic assistance is marginally supported by faculty members; however, this data was novel, and required feedback from other faculty at different locations and universities. Therefore, this paper sought to determine whether faculty from different geographical and university settings display similar decision-making profiles.

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Why is it important?

This investigation showed through larger-scale survey and small-scale interviews that college faculty display similar decision-making as those studied previously. When juxtaposed to other relevant works on the topic, these findings promote the position that the majority of college faculty from multiple United States regions (Southeast, Northeast, Midwest) and universities (public, private, small, large, etc.) display amenable decision-making when a formal method is used to request academic assistance. Accurately understanding faculty decision-making will allow clinicians and university administrators to properly guide college students towards an accommodated recovery.


Pursuing formal 504 accommodations following concussion may appear over-responsive; yet, growing evidence indicates that 10-37% of college students will need several weeks (>2) to academically recover following concussion. Replicated faculty-derived data indicates that a formal process is needed to ensure reproducible outcomes for these students, thus medical and academic stakeholders should strongly consider a Return-to-Learn protocol that capitalizes on these details. College students recovering from concussion should know that their investment in higher education is holistically supported.

Zachary Bevilacqua
SUNY Brockport

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Understanding how faculty make return-to-learn decisions for college students, Neurorehabilitation, December 2023, IOS Press,
DOI: 10.3233/nre-230177.
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