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You are reading: Re-imagining exams: How do assessment adjustments impact on inclusion?

Written by Joanna Tai1, Rola Ajjawi1, Margaret Bearman1, Joanne Dargusch2, Mary Dracup1, Lois Harris2, Paige Mahoney1


Exams and other high-stakes time-limited assessments can act as barriers to success for some students in higher education. Though required by Australian law, adjustments do not necessarily lead to equitable academic outcomes (Brett, 2016; Kilpatrick et al., 2017), nor do they always address students’ actual access requirements (Waterfield & West, 2006). A system which focuses only on making reactive accommodations is likely to become overwhelmed as diverse students increasingly participate in higher education. Rather than continuing to view disability as a problem to address at an individual level, a shift to focus on inclusive assessment design may also hold promise for a broader range of diverse students.

In addition to students with a disability (SWD), in recent years students across equity groups, including regional, rural, and remote (RRR) and/or low socioeconomic status (SES) (Koshy, 2019), are increasingly participating in higher education. Social inclusion therefore becomes a concern when considering what happens in assessment practices. There are also groups such as First in Family (FiF) students who have not been formally designated an equity group by the government, yet due to intersecting demographic, social and cultural characteristics, share similar experiences to other equity groups within higher education (O’Shea, 2016). There is a need to better understand how these types of equity markers intersect to compound disadvantage (Drury & Charles, 2016; Nelson et al., 2017). This is highly important within the context of assessment, since assessment has a substantial impact on success and retention for all students, but particularly those with intersecting equity group memberships (Ajjawi et al., 2020).

Read the full report here: Re-imagining exams: How do assessment adjustments impact on inclusion?

1Deakin University

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