Teaching & Learning
At Deakin, students apply for extensions and special considerations to help them complete their assignments. Deakin student Shelby, supported by the Office of the Dean of Students, collated real-life stories from students who have used these support services before to better understand the experience. These were her findings.
‘My experience with the tool has been relatively pleasant since the format is user-friendly and straightforward. It doesn’t require a lot of ‘preparation’ to apply for extension.
‘Mailing the unit chair [for extension] was helpful because she was able to direct me to certain websites/phone numbers to contact if my anxiety got worse. While the extension website/cloud Deakin site also has this information, it was a very comforting and accepting situation to have the unit chair reassuring me.’
Although the process was smooth, some students felt that the deadline updates on the CloudDeakin sites could be improved. One student noted:
‘Having an approved extension on the email but not on the cloud Deakin site gets very confusing and anxiety-inducing. I have, in these cases, had to email the unit chair in urgency to confirm if I have indeed received an extension (since the email mentions an extension but the cloud site drop box isn’t always updated).’
Another student, unfortunately, did not have a good experience when applying for their extension:
‘I was applying for the extension with my access plan because I had a serious flare-up of my condition that started just before the trimester began. I emailed the [lecturer] with my access plan asking for a one-week extension. [They] asked to call me in the reply, so I agreed thinking [they] wanted to help me check I was going to be fine like my lecturers normally do. However, when I answered the phone, I was met with a concerned voice asking how I was going to be able to do medicine* if I can’t be organised and do the basic assignments.’
The student’s request was successful, but they remembered feeling questioned and humiliated during the process.
How can Deakin staff better support students to improve their study experience during a pandemic?
After speaking with students, here are my recommendations:
- Ensure all Deakin students are aware of the extension tools and special consideration process. Posting details on CloudDeakin’s news at the start of every trimester could help those who need to apply.
- Understand that students with pre-existing medical conditions or disabilities might experience more difficulties due to the pandemic.
- Reflect the new deadline on student’s CloudDeakin unit site once an extension has been approved. This helps to reassure and provide students with more certainty – something that is very much needed as we make our way out of this uncertain pandemic climate.
*All student stories have been anonymised and details have been modified to protect their identity. This project was funded by the Office of the Dean of Students, Student-Initiated Project fund.