Rock and a Hard Place: Assessing the strengths and challenges of creating student choice in assessment


Recently, the quality, nature and processes surrounding assessment and feedback in Higher Education have received much attention (Evans, 2013; Sambell 2016). This is especially significant given the aim of inclusive pedagogy is to eliminate exclusion (UNESCO, 2009), and the HEA advocates anticipatory and inclusive assessment processes that comply with the Equality Act 2010 (HEA, 2012). Hockings (2010, p.21) suggests that having choice in assessment mode enables students to deliver evidence of their learning in a medium that suits their needs, rather than in a predetermined and prescribed format which may disadvantage an individual or group of students in the cohort. A recent study completed by the presenters suggests that students with and without additional learning needs would welcome choice in assessment mode, but with some important caveats around employability skills development and the need for scaffolded support.

The aim of this session is to enable delegates to investigate the ideas, opportunities and challenges surrounding inclusive assessment and feedback practices. This draws upon a recent research project undertaken in Cardiff University which examined staff and student opinions of the approach and practicalities of introducing choice into assessment practices. Delegates will have the opportunity to discuss the strengths and challenges of inclusive assessment and feedback design, and to consider applying the principles of universal design and inclusive pedagogy to their own assessment practices.

This is will be an interactive workshop which will enable delegates to begin to consider, design and develop appropriate innovative assessment methods which can eliminate barriers to learning. By the end of the session, delegates will have deeper insights into inclusive practice and additional learning needs within a higher education setting, have an increased awareness of the findings on inclusion in assessment in the UK HE sector and have considered the design inclusive assessment and feedback tasks and processes.

The session will begin with an overview on research into inclusive assessment practices in HE. This will be followed by a group activity where delegates will have the opportunity to complete an analysis of teaching, learning and assessment tools used in their discipline. After discussion and feedback, delegates will complete a short online survey to explore perceptions and practices in assessment, and watch a video exploring inclusive education. The final activity will involve small groups identifying assessment types used in their discipline, and the associated barriers to learning and then developing solutions to these barriers, with workshop leaders’ support.


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