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Principles of Inclusive Online Assessment

Making online assessment inclusive

In order to ensure that our online assessments are accessible for our diverse student population, the University has agreed the following principles:

Principle 1: Students must be informed of the format of the assessment in advance, including the software platform, and have the opportunity for a trial run.

Offering your students a trial run with the technology they will be required to use for their online assessment will:

  • provide them with an opportunity to familiarise with the new technology and assessment workflow
  • lessen any potential anxiety related to using a new technology
  • help you understand in advance, any potential access issues your students may have.

If any of your students experience access issues, these should be reported to your school.

Principle 2: Module leaders must set expectations around word limit, which must be clearly articulated in the rubric.

This is especially important for assessment offered over a lengthy time window, such as 48 hours. This will ensure there is a clear instruction around how much your students are expected to write. You may find the following wording helpful:

"Students are expected to write between XXX and XXX words when answering the set question. We anticipate that this task should take students approximately 2 hours to complete. As the time taken to complete the task does not form part of the assessment criteria, and to take into consideration of students with additional needs, all students will be given at least 48hrs to complete the assessment task."

Principle 3: Module leaders must continue to follow the inclusive assessment guidance.

Your assessment instructions will be more inclusive and accessible if you follow the inclusive assessment guidance (Exam papers, SES website) and associated templates. This should result in less need for language to be modified. This is particularly important when your students are working in isolation with limited ability to check instructions. This guidance should be followed for any open book and closed exam papers you set.

Principle 4: Schools are responsible for clarifying instructions for assessments within expected working hours.

Your school will need to develop a process so that a nominated contact is available to clarify instructions for assessments during usual working hours. The details of this process should be communicated to your students by your school.

For any queries outside normal working hours, your students should proceed with the assessment as best they can and report any difficulties to their school at the earliest opportunity. This will ensure these difficulties can be picked up at the marking stage.

Principle 5: Assessments should be offered within a 48-hour assessment window.

Using a minimum 48hr assessment window will automatically include most extra time allowance and rest breaks for your students, and will also support your students who maybe studying in different time zones. This should be considered the optimum approach and should be adopted wherever possible. However, there may be genuine pedagogic reasons and/or requirements relating to accreditation by a Professional Statutory or Regulatory Body (PSRB) for a shorter time period.

Principle 6: Previously agreed adjustments around submission of work must be honoured.

For example, if some of your students usually have a recommendation for flexibility around the submission of their coursework, they must have the same flexibility for coursework submitted in lieu of a formal, seated exam.  Your school will need to clarify the process for agreeing this with your students.

Principle 7: Previously agreed adjustments around scheduling must be honoured.

If your students have recommendations for scheduling adjustments (for example, no exams on consecutive days), your school will need to take this into account when timetabling their assessments. Your school will be provided with additional information to support this.

Principle 8: The mitigating circumstances process must be available to students who cannot access the assessment.

Some of your students may not be able to access certain types of online assessment.  Where this is the case, they must be directed towards the mitigating circumstances process.

Principle 9: All students must be given guidance on how to set up a safe and comfortable working environment.

Your students may be studying for long hours in the same workspace so it is important for them to be offered guidance on how to manage their space and time effectively, to support their wellbeing.

Principle 10: Module Leaders are responsible for anticipating the need for extra time and other adjustments in assessments under 48 hours.

The expectation is that all online time limited assessments will be offered in a 48 hour time period. However, where there are genuine pedagogic reasons and/or requirements relating to accreditation by PSRBs for the assessment to be less than 48 hours (See principle 5), the relevant reasonable adjustments such as extra time and rest breaks (as identified by Disability Services) must be anticipated and applied.

Schools should communicate with students in advance to state clearly the time available for the assessment, and provide disabled students with information about how any extra time allowance will be managed for assessments of under 48 hours.

Learn more

Further guidance to support you with inclusive assessment practices is available on the following pages:


Last updated: 16/09/22