Inclusive Assessment

According to University of Oxford Centre for Teaching and Learning, “Inclusive assessment design provides all students with equal opportunities to demonstrate their learning and achievements …” The underlying principle is that “no single assessment task can capture effectively what a student knows, understands and can do to their full potential; over-reliance on one, or a limited number, of assessment tasks narrows the range of opportunities for students to demonstrate the full extent of their learning.” There is research evidence that making assessments more inclusive can increase student motivation, engagement, and overall success in the classroom; therefore, inclusive assessment is a good educational practice that benefits all students. Inclusive assessment

Tufts University Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching offered the following general principles for inclusive assessment:

  • “Student learning is prompted by early, low-stakes, frequent assessment and feedback for learning.
  • Students will rise to high expectations if they have appropriate support.
  • Assessments should utilize multiple and varied methods of student performance.
  • Student learning is enhanced by exercises or assignments that promote self-assessment and self-awareness. An example of this may be the use of exam wrappers.
  • “Grading on a curve does not allow all students to see how close they are coming to high standards of performance. If all students reach the standard, it is okay for all to reach the highest grade” (Ginsberg & Wlodkowski, Diversity & Motivation, 2009).
  • Assessment occurs before, during, and after learning.
  • Assessments need to be transparent in their design. This includes clearly articulating step-by-step instructions as well as the criteria for success.”

Examples of inclusive assessment techniques include

  • Design multimodal (visual, auditory, reading/writing, kinesthetic) assessments students to demonstrate learning.
  • Make instructions for all assignments clear and easily understood
  • Make assessments of free of jargon or culture specific references.
  • Relate all assessments to student learning outcomes for the course.
  • Explicitly communicate the evaluation criteria for each graded assignment (e.g., rubric).
  • Provide grading policies for the course.
  • Provide timely constructive feedback so students can gauge their progress.
  • Provide practice with typical test questions, so students can become familiar with the types of questions they will likely encounter in assessments.
  • Provide examples of excellent student work.
  • Provide step-by-step guidelines for each assignment and require students to hand in abstracts, outlines, drafts, bibliographies, etc. as they progress.
  • Reduce the stakes of major papers and tests, for example,
    • Allow students to drop their worst score
    • Let students replace an earlier score with a cumulative final grade
    • Replace high stakes assessment with more frequent low stakes assessments.
  • Provide students with opportunities to practice the skills they need for high-stakes assessments in quizzes or short papers.
  • Use authentic assessment opportunities involving real world tasks.
  • Ensure that exams are accessible to all students.
  • Ensure that examples used represent a range of social identities.
  • If possible, grade assessments anonymously.
  • Consider allowing students to have input into rubrics and grading criteria.
  • If grading class participation or engagement, allow different options.


University of Oxford Centre for Teaching and Learning Inclusive assessment
Tufts University Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching What are equitable assessment practices?
University of North Texas Division of Digital Strategy and Innovation Inclusive Assessment
Duke University Learning Innovation Best Practices in Inclusive Assessment
Carnegie Mellon University Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation Design inclusive assessments
Brown University Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning Inclusive Assessment of Student Learning
University of Chicago Inclusive Pedagogy Assess Inclusively
New York University Inclusive Curriculum Design and Assessment Practices
Case, K. Syllabus Challenge