Butcher, J., Lazard, L., Sedgwick, P. and Hey, J. (2010) Assess4success: institutional learning from inclusive approaches to assessment. Paper presented to: University of Northampton Learning and Teaching Conference: Learning Dialogues, University of Northampton, UK, 13 May 2010.
This paper reports on inclusive approaches to assessment across one HEI in a case study of evidence-informed change management. The data collected and reported on was gathered as part of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) Inclusive learning and Teaching Summit 2009-10. This institutional research was informed by four strands of academic literature. Work on study skills (for example McDowell, 2008) suggests some HE students are ill-prepared for traditional academic assessment. Research on assessment feedback suggests 'many of the problems experienced by the student in the first year can be addressed through assessment practices' (Nicol, 2009). Literature on alternative assessment methods (Gravestock, 2006) advocates those additional and/or adjustment approaches to inclusivity in HE 'be available to all students, if it meets the intended learning outcomes and maintains academic standards'. Studies on inclusion (for example Riddell and Weedon, 2006) challenge HEIs to 'find new forms of assessment which will no longer penalise students with learning differences'. In order to identify the key barriers to inclusivity in assessment, we collected data on 'scrapers' (defined as 3 or more x D grade completing L4). Analysis identified the scale of the issue, and factors worthy of further investigation. The sample (n = 114) were invited to volunteer to be interviewed to explore inclusive assessment issues from the student perspective. Significant assessment preparedness issues emerged around: age (students under 21); gender (male); disability (dyslexia); ethnicity (British Asian, British African). No significant discipline differences were found. To triangulate the student data, perceptions were sought through a structured discussion with (new) lecturers in the PGCTHE cohort. Relevant findings were used to inform strategic recommendations