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Fit for purpose: traditional assessment is failing undergraduates with learning difficulties. Might eAssessment help?

Williams, Peter; Wray, Jane; Farrall, Helen; Aspland, Jo


Peter Williams

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Dr Jane Wray
Senior Lecturer in Nursing, Senior Clinical Nurse Advisor NHSEI

Jo Aspland


Recent years have seen unprecedented growth in the size, diversity and academic orientation of undergraduate student populations. There is evidence that the use of innovative pedagogies using information and communications technology has the potential to address such student diversity by offering opportunities for a more personalised student learning experience. However, ways of assessing student work in such personalised learning contexts have remained a challenge for most English universities, dominated by traditional high stakes, timed exercises. Being almost always text-intensive, these can prove particularly stressful and disadvantageous for the growing numbers of students with specific learning difficulties (SpLD). Such challenges are examined in relation to national requirements and exemplified in the SpLD strategies developed in two faculties of an English university. The paper defines key principles and practices to be realised in order for assessment to be considered fit for purpose. Using these as criteria, traditional assessment is compared to new ways of evaluating student progress that are personalised, integral to and embedded in the learning process. It is concluded that computer-based assessment (eAssessment) offers fairer and more inclusive ways of monitoring, diagnosing, supporting learning and reporting students' achievements.


Williams, P., Wray, J., Farrall, H., & Aspland, J. (2014). Fit for purpose: traditional assessment is failing undergraduates with learning difficulties. Might eAssessment help?. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 18(6), 614-625.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 23, 2013
Online Publication Date Jun 6, 2013
Publication Date Jun 3, 2014
Deposit Date Nov 13, 2014
Publicly Available Date Nov 13, 2014
Journal International journal of inclusive education
Print ISSN 1360-3116
Electronic ISSN 1464-5173
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 18
Issue 6
Pages 614-625
Keywords Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous); Education
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Peer Review Statement: The publishing and review policy for this title is described in its Aims & Scope.; Aim & Scope:


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