Assessing student mastery of course material during the semester benefits both the student and the instructor. For some disabled students, the traditional method of testing presents a barrier, and for those students we consider such accommodations as extended time and/or testing in a reduced-distraction environment.
There are ways that instructors can design this aspect of their courses that reduces these barriers. Students benefit in such environments and disabled students donâ€™t have to approach the task differently than the rest of the class, which is very welcoming and inclusive.
Providing students with a variety of options to demonstrate their mastery of the course material benefits many, including students who have test anxiety, students for whom English is a second language, and students with disabilities. Some of the alternatives often employed for assessing knowledge are:
- Research papers or essays
- Take-home exams
- Individual or group projects
- Discussion participation
For traditional in-class exams, often the short amount of time is the barrier. If the ability to answer questions very quickly isnâ€™t what is being assessed, then providing all students extended time* for tests is a very inclusive approach. Providing students flexibility in demonstrating their knowledge often makes the need for individual accommodations unnecessary. Because nothing different has to be set up when a disabled student enrolls, this means less work for the instructor.
Instructors may choose to test in the more traditional way, giving students a set amount of time to complete an exam in class. In those situations, testing accommodations will be requested by some students with disabilities. The most common testing accommodation is extended time in a reduced-distraction room. Here are the responsibilities of the involved parties:
- If needed, clarify testing accommodation request with the student and/or DRC staff.
- Coordinate with the student regarding the date and location of exams.
- Arrange a location that meets the studentâ€™s needs for testing; typically in the departmentâ€™s office suite.
- If the student uses a DRC laptop to test, coordinate with the DRC so your test can be uploaded to the laptop in an accessible format, and so the DRC can deliver it for the student to use.
- If “reduced distraction room” is listed and you are uncertain if your location meets that description, ask the student to assess the appropriateness of the room in advance of test day. Please be aware of any changes in the environment that would impact the studentâ€™s use of the room (for example, construction just outside the testing room), and respond appropriately.
- Be available during the exam, or appoint a replacement to be available for the student, during the exam. If you normally answer student questions during exams, you or your proxy need to be available to answer questions for the student receiving the accommodations.
- For online exams, set up a separate exam in BlackBoard with extended time.
- For instructors at Bowen School of Law, coordinate with the student and the Dean so that exams can be graded anonymously, as is the case with the rest of the class.
- Establish eligibility for testing accommodations.
- Print and make faculty notification letters available for students to pick up and deliver to the instructor.
- For online classes, print and send faculty notification letter to instructor.
- Answer any questions from the instructor or student regarding testing accommodations.
- Request testing accommodations when meeting with DRC staff.
- Request Faculty Notification Letters from the DRC website and deliver letters to professors.
- Discuss testing accommodations with professors and answer any questions.
- A day or two prior to the first exam, remind professor of testing accommodations and confirm the time and location for the exam.
- If there are problems with the testing accommodations, notify the professor as soon as possible.
- If testing accommodations need to be revised, contact the DRC staff.
- For students at Bowen School of Law, discuss the procedure for turning in exams so they can be graded anonymously, as is the case with the rest of the class.