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Learning and Teaching: Essential Guides

Learning and Teaching Essential Guides

No 8: Strategies for Assessing Students with Psychiatric or Psychological Difficulties In considering alternative forms of assessment, equal opportunity, not a guaranteed outcome, is the objective. You are not expected to lower standards to accommodate students with a disability, but rather are required to give them a reasonable opportunity to demonstrate what they • have learned. Students with mobility difficulties may need particular adjustments to assessment tasks. Once you have a clear picture of how the difficulty impacts on performance you can consider alternative assessment strategies.

examinations. If so it may be necessary to provide extra space for equipment, or a separate examination venue if the noise from equipment (for example a voice synthesiser) is likely to be distracting for other students. Provide extra time in examinations for students who have reduced writing speed. Some students with a mobility disability may need rest breaks. Take-home examinations and split papers may be options, given that some students may need double time to complete examinations.

The Disability and Dyslexia Service will advise on • Allow extensions to assignment deadlines if Reasonable Adjustments for individual students extensive research involving physical activity with disabilities. These are logged on the SARA (for example, frequent trips to the library or form for the individual student. Below are some collection of data from dispersed locations) is general ideas when considering assessment tools required. for modules. There are some good assessment practices which • A reader or an oral examination (either will help students with a mobility disability (and all presenting answers on tape or participating other students in the class): in a viva), are alternatives to the conventional • Know what you are testing, whether it is written paper. An oral examination is not decision-making, strategic planning, creative an easy option for students. Give the same application of information, data collection and time for an oral examination as for a written processing, logical sequencing, or argument. exam, but allow extra time for the student to listen to and refine or edit responses. In your • Create assessment activities in which assessment, allowance should be made for students have the opportunity to link their the fact that spoken answers are likely to be learning to what they already know, and to less coherent than written answers. past experience. • For some students the combination of written and oral examination will be most appropriate. Allow students to write answer plans or make outline notes, but then to answer the question orally. Your assessment should be based on both the notes and the spoken presentation. • Students may need to use a personal computer or a personal assistant in the

• Make your expectations clear so that students know what they are required to demonstrate. • Keep written examination instructions and sentences within examination questions short. Questions using bullet points, lists or separate parts are more likely to be followed and correctly interpreted.


Learning and Teaching: Essential Guides

• Avoid using assessment methods which encourage students to rote learn material. Open book examinations are one way of doing this. Students with impaired hand or arm function will need assistance to turn pages, and therefore extra time. • Make explicit the way in which marks will be allocated, both in discussion with the class beforehand, and on the examination paper. • Provide optional pathways towards meeting stated objectives, options that allow for flexibility in the approach to teaching, organisation and assessment. You might provide project-based exercises in which students choose their own topic for exploration. Given the diversity of students, the greater the diversity in methods of assessment, the fairer will be the process. Make accommodations based on individual circumstance and need. Remember that students may need the opportunity to experiment to find the adaptation or accommodation which best meets their learning style/needs. • Include self-assessment as a component of the course. Self-assessment involves discussion with students about the criteria according to which they assess their own performance, and the level of performance required for different grades. • Discuss and collaborate on assessment alternatives with staff who have had previous experience teaching students with disabilities. Ensure that you (and your subject area/ School) regularly review any alternative arrangements to ensure that these meet both the student’s needs (which may change over time) and stated course outcomes. Teaching staff should ensure that they are familiar with the requirements of the following legislation relating to disability: Equality and Diversity Act 2010. Details may be found on the Equality Tab on Portia.

Queries regarding the needs of individual students should be referred to the Disability and Dyslexia Services Tel: (external) 01243 812076 (Internal) 2076. Centre for Learning and Teaching/Disability and Dyslexia Service Enhancement Guides The University promotes an inclusive approach to learning and teaching, based on equity and equal entitlement. The university’s aim is to increase the proportion of students who are currently under-represented in higher education in order to widen participation and its objective is to provide suitable facilities, and implement policies that enable all students to undertake and complete their studies successfully.

No 8- Strategies for Assessing Students with Psychiatric or Psychological Difficulties  
No 8- Strategies for Assessing Students with Psychiatric or Psychological Difficulties  
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