The most common forms of written assessment are essays and essay based exams. Other forms of written assessment include lab reports, dissertation, reflective diaries, portfolios, and case studies.
Written assessments can cause difficulties for many different students including:
- students with specific learning difficulties (e.g. dyslexia) who may have difficulty with spelling / grammar or structuring essays,
- students learning through a second language who may have difficulty with spelling / grammar and academic writing,
- students with significant external responsibilities, certain disabilities, or personal pressures, who may have difficulties with organisation and time management.
Guidelines for Inclusive Written Assessments
- Consider what you wish to assess.
- Consider whether there is a mismatch between what you intend to assess and what you do assess.
- Ensure students understand what you are assessing.
For further details see: Written Work: What am I Assessing?
- Ensure students are given the following information in plain, jargon free, language, at the beginning of the academic year:
- assessment deadlines,
- referencing style used,
- expected essay length,
- grading criteria,
- Where finalised, ensure students are given access to programme and module learning outcomes. Explain the relationship between outcomes and assessment to your students.
- Annotate reading lists to allow more focused, effective, reading.
Inform students of the following study and research skills:
- the purpose of essay writing on your course
- strategies for essay production, including the creation of essay plans and drafts, the importance of recording citations as they go along, and the importance of proof-reading essays before submission,
- How to use the Dewey Decimal System and find library books,
- How and why to reference,
- What style of writing to use on the assignment.For example, bullet points may be acceptable in lab report writing but not in essay writing.
- How to structure and present an essay.
Study skills tutorials may be useful. You can also inform your students of the Learning Support and Development Service, where they can go for additional individual support.
- Seek to offering a range of assessment methods. This will reduce the writing requirement and allow students to display their understanding and knowledge by alternative means. Consider using presentations, posters, practicals, debate, viva voces etc.
- Allow for electronic submission of assignments where possible. These are helpful to students who have trouble accessing working printer and those with mobility difficulties.
- If using Turnitin or another computer application, make sure students know how to use it, and know where to go for help if stuck. Some students, especially mature students, may have very limited computer literacy on entry.