It’s important to assess how students have grown and mastered our course materials during the semester, and to do so in ways that don’t inadvertently disadvantage some students compared to others. On October 26, a group of new and experienced faculty came together in an event sponsored by the Office of Faculty Advancement to discuss and learn from each other on the topic of inclusive assessment. Some of their ideas are summarized below.
Welcoming course design
- Learn about your own implicit biases and blind spots, to help you actively mitigate those in your teaching and course design.
- Learn about your students and help them get to know each other .
- Use a Doodle or poll to schedule office hours at times all students can attend.
- Make explicit statements about belief in all students’ capabilities, which is one way to avoid stereotype threat.
- Make sure your course materials (including your assessments) meet basic accessibility standards, including being appropriate for color-blind students. Plan accommodations for any documented student disability.
Overall assessment design
- Have a variety of types of assessment rather than only two or three high-stakes tests, and make each individual assessment worth a lower percent of the course grade.
- Scaffold larger assessments and assignments . To scaffold writing assignments (PDF) or projects, break them into smaller pieces assigned across the semester and provide clear support and training for each piece.
- If grading class participation or engagement, allow many different options to accommodate different student comfort levels and preferences.
- Use formative and summative assessments, and have assessments frequently throughout the term.
- Avoid references in your assessment questions which would be unclear or unknown to students of different cultures. (See examples of questions that might be biased against international students, first generation college students and students from less wealthy backgrounds.) Avoid complex vocabulary unless you are testing vocabulary.
- Provide explicit practice with the types of assessment questions you plan to use prior to the graded assessment.
- Ensure that the content of the assessments is a true reflection of the key topics and skills you have taught in the class and is directly targeted at the student learning outcomes for the course or module.
- If possible, blind grade student submissions. Gradescope is one way to help with this.
- On graded assessments, use criterion-referenced rather than norm-referenced approaches.
- Effective Culturally-Inclusive Assessment of Student Learning & Academic Performance
- Connecting Assessment and Learning – includes discussion of formative and summative assessment
- Inclusive Assessment: Equal or Equitable?
- Six impactful teaching practices to improve the academic achievement of underrepresented minority and first generation students
- How do I create meaningful and effective assignments?
- Diversity, Equity, and Assessment webinar (1:00:52, recorded 10/10/2018 from the Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education)
- The University of Michigan’s information on diversity and inclusion generally, and specifically their inclusive teaching resources and strategies
If you’d like a consultation about your assessment plan or course design, please contact Learning Innovation.