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 don’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 isn’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.
Let the DRC know if you’d like to discuss these options further, or if you’d like to make such changes to your course design.
If you are not yet able to utilize these inclusive principles, then please review the information about providing accommodated exams.