Students may need adjustments to an assessable component of their course which could include assignments, presentations, practical work, and placements. Assessment adjustments are put in place to offset the impact that a disability may have on the student's ability to undertake the assessment and to perform at their expected level.
Determining assessment adjustments
The assessment adjustments that a specific student may be eligible to request are determined after consultation with a Disability Services Officer and review of detailed supporting documentation.
Assessment adjustments are considered reasonable when they address the impact of a disability on the student's ability to undertake the assessment, and do not provide the student with an 'unfair advantage'. Rather, it would be unfair for the student with the disability to try to undertake and complete an assessment while experiencing impacts of their disability that may cost them time, or which they physically don't have the ability to undertake, or to undertake an assessment that causes an undue level of stress causing an exacerbation of their disability and possibly ill-health.
Sometimes the required adjustment is not obvious and Disability Services may need to negotiate with the Faculty to determine what options are available to assist the student to meet the assessable requirements of the course.
Types of assessment adjustments
The most common form of assessment adjustment is the 'extension of time'. This is because the most common disability impact that student's present to Disability Services with is a loss of time many of the students we see are chronically time-poor due to the impacts and disruptions from their disability, and many experience last minute exacerbations of their disability due to raised levels of stress at critical times, such as assessment deadlines.
However, there are many other options that can be provided, depending on the type of assessment and, specifically, on the type of disability.
- Extensions: to provide the student with the time required to complete the assessment.
- Alternative assessment: an alternative topic or format of assessment may be required if the student cannot complete the current assessment in a timely manner and the deadline cannot be extended any further, or when they cannot complete the required type of assessment due to a direct impact of their condition, for instance, a student with a learning disorder may have difficulty with certain types of writing styles.
- Re-Weighting: may be required when a small task, or a series of small tasks, cannot be completed in the short time-frame provided; or when the student has difficulty undertaking large assessment tasks which comprise the majority of the grade for the course, and additional small assessments can be provided to reduce the weighting of the large assessment.
- Additional Assessments: providing more options for the student to demonstrate their proficiency with the course material, with weighting spread out over more assessments.
Some students may have difficulty working in groups due to social anxiety, speech disorders, or hearing impairments. Options are:
- Smaller group numbers
- Partnering with only one other person
- Individual assessment
- Present to lecturer only: may be required when the student has a severe speech disorder or social anxiety disorder and cannot present to the class.
- Provide hardcopy only: as above, but may be required if the student experiences an exacerbation and cannot present to the lecturer either.
- Alternative assessment: may be offered if presentation skills are not an essential component of the learning outcomes of the course.
- Alternative style of presentation: a student who may not be able to present directly to the class, may like to try developing a presentation to be shown to the class, eg. PowerPoint with recorded audio.
- Directing others: if a physical impairment exists that prevents the student from physically undertaking practical work, the student may be able to demonstrate their understanding and proficiency by directing another through the task.
- Partnering: some students undertaking individual practical work may benefit from working with a partner, and may need a partner to undertake specific duties on their behalf in order to complete the task.
In the same way that a student may need adjustments to their study environment, direct assistance in the classroom, or timetable modifications, the student may require adjustment to aspects of their Placement, such as hours per day, location of placement, more one-to-one support from a supervisor, ergonomic furniture, etc.