Inclusive Assessment & Feedback: Universal Design Case Studies from IADT and UCD

Why Inclusive Assessment and Feedback?

Each student is unique.

They are unique not only from their own personal knowledge, skills and competencies but they also come from a diversity of social and cultural environments. However, when it comes to assessment we know that in Ireland, as in many other countries, although there is a range of assessment used, we are still very reliant on the end-of-semester written examination. In fact, research shows that, ‘Examination is the most common assessment method, although its popularity and weighting differs between fields, programmes and stages of programme’ (National Forum, 2016a, p10). Some students do well in examinations, but many more do not. In the same vein, the various feedback approaches, for example individual written feedback, may not suit all students and we need to explore how the different feedback approaches can be more inclusive for various student cohorts.

Higher education is increasingly supporting more diverse cohorts of students as outlined above. It is timely therefore to ask ourselves: Are my current practices fair? Do they assess the diverse cohort of students in my module/programme? One approach used to address this in recent years has been to give particular students
some special arrangements or a different assessment than the rest of the class (often called ‘contingency/alternative approach’ or ‘special/Reasonable Accommodation’. However, an Inclusive Assessment approach aims to support all students in the module/programme, not just those who may be in a position to request an alternative or special arrangement. Inclusive Assessment and Feedback removes the need for students to have a diagnosis or label in order to experience equity of treatment or opportunity.

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