The Importance of Note Takers for Post-Secondary Students with Disabilities
What is Note Taking?
Note taking may sound simple, but in the context of post-secondary learning, it can be complicated. In this context, note taking is the process of summarizing information from post-secondary lectures. With how fast-paced and content-heavy some courses can be, something thought of as simple becomes more complex in practice. In fact, not everyone can note take effectively, or even note take at all. Taking adequate notes provides students sources to learn and review from.
Why are Note Takers Needed?
Note taking can be difficult for students with physical or mental disabilities. For some, they might not be able to write adequately, or at the speed in which post-secondary classes demand students to take notes. According to a 2021 study, the amount of first-year university students with disabilities enrolled in Canadian institutions rose from 9% to 22% between 2010 and 2019 (Parsons et al. 42). As shown, this number has risen and will continue to rise: accommodations will become increasingly more requested as the years pass.
Student note takers are important to those who need the accommodations. The service that student note takers provide can be beneficial towards individuals’ success in their course. However, despite the acknowledgement that everyone deserves equal access to course materials and learning, a student note taker is not always provided. Student note taking is considered, by many post-secondary institutions, as voluntary. Therefore, it is not mandatory for a student to be assigned as a note taker. Having a student note taker in a class may be necessary for some students, but the position is not treated as such by institutions.
What are the Incentives Offered for Note Takers?
Volunteer hours, co-curricular recognition, and reference letters are the most common incentives for post-secondary institutions to offer their note takers, but here are some other examples:
Alongside receiving 10 hours of volunteer service per course (as shown on their co-curricular record), note takers at McGill will be entered in a draw to win 1 of 10 $50 gift cards.
Ontario Tech University
Note takers at Ontario Tech University will be entered into a draw to win $350, as well as their choice of school apparel.
Simon Fraser University
Note takers at Simon Fraser University will be given a $100 school bookstore gift card at the end of a successful semester.
St. Lawrence University
Note takers at St. Lawrence University will be paid $85 (per course) at the end of a successful semester.
University of British Columbia
At the University of British Columbia, note taking is considered a paid position. Student note takers are paid based on the class that the note taker is providing the service for. The more credits that the course earns, the more money that the student will make. Student assistant wages at the University of British Columbia range from $14.60 to $25.00 an hour.
University of Calgary
Like the University of British Columbia, the University of Calgary also recognizes note taking as a paid position. Student note takers will be paid $16 an hour. However, if the student note taker is providing their service for more than one student, the pay is calculated differently: the student note taker will still receive $16 per hour for the first student that they help, and they will be paid extra for their additional efforts. For each other student that they help, they will receive pay for one hour a week, which is also $16.
“About – Centre for Accessible Learning (CAL) – Simon Fraser University.” Simon Fraser University, https://www.sfu.ca/students/accessible-learning/programs-and-services/notetaking/student-note-takers/volunteers.html. Accessed 6 Dec. 2021.
“Accessibility Services.” St. Lawrence College, https://www.stlawrencecollege.ca/services/student-wellness-and-accessibility/accessibility-services. Accessed 6 Dec. 2021.
“How Do I Become A Note-Sharing Peer?” McGill University, https://www.mcgill.ca/osd/student-resources/note-sharing/how-do-i-become-note-sharing-peer. Accessed 6 Dec. 2021.
Ng, Bao Li. “Opinion: To Better Accommodate Students with Disabilities, U of T Should Compensate Note-Takers.” The Varsity, 12 Jan. 2020, https://thevarsity.ca/2020/01/12/opinion-to-better-accommodate-students-with-disabilities-u-of-t-should-compensate-note-takers/.
“Notetakers | Student Services – Faculty & Staff Resources.” The University of British Columbia, https://facultystaff.students.ubc.ca/student-engagement/centre-accessibility/student-assistants/notetakers. Accessed 6 Dec. 2021.
“Notetakers and Educational Attendants: Frequently Asked Questions.” University of Calgary, https://www.ucalgary.ca/student-services/access/home/notetakerFAQ. Accessed 6 Dec. 2021.
“Notetaking: Everything You Needed to Know.” Paperlike, 6 Oct. 2021, https://paperlike.com/blogs/paperlikers-insights/note-taking-guide. Accessed 14 Dec. 2021.
Parsons, Jeanette, et al. “Accommodations and Academic Performance: First-Year University Students with Disabilities.” Canadian Journal of Higher Education, vol. 51, no. 1, Mar. 2021, pp. 41–56. journals.sfu.ca, https://doi.org/10.47678/cjhe.vi0.188985.
“Student Assistants | Student Services – Faculty & Staff Resources.” The University of British Columbia, https://facultystaff.students.ubc.ca/student-engagement/centre-accessibility/student-assistants. Accessed 6 Dec. 2021.
“Volunteer as a Note-Taker | Accessibility Services.” University of Toronto Mississauga, https://www.utm.utoronto.ca/accessibility/volunteer-resources/volunteer-note-taker. Accessed 6 Dec. 2021.
“Volunteer Note Takers.” Ontario Tech University, https://studentlife.ontariotechu.ca/services/accessibility/get-involved/index.php. Accessed 11 Dec. 2021.