Inclusive Assessment: Fostering Social Justice in Education
By Dr Eleni Meletiadou
Course Leader/Senior Lecturer at London Metropolitan University Guildhall School of Business and Law
The internationalisation of Education worldwide has broadened student diversity in educational institutions in recent years. Inclusive assessment or Assessment for Social Justice promotes developmental timely feedback which supports students’ understanding of the assessment requirements and allows them to reflect on how they can improve their academic performance. Assessment is a powerful driver of learning which may engage our diverse student cohorts in processes that support their development, academic success, and employability, while connecting with their own linguistic identities, learning experiences and cultural capital.
Students’ voices should be heard, and their expectations need to be considered ensuring that the assessment methods we are using match our students’ backgrounds reflecting what our students are able to do. Students need to become involved as co-creator of the assessment framework used in various educational institutions to ensure that assessment anxiety is reduced and that teachers can develop their students’ confidence. Educators should facilitate safe spaces for students to ask questions and possibly co-define the assessment criteria to increase their engagement in the learning tasks. Allowing learners to take more responsibility towards their own learning allows them to develop their employability skills which will ultimately help them secure a career-enhancing position in the future.
Assessment methods used in Education need to ensure fairness and inclusivity accommodating different learning styles and enabling students to shine. These methods should not disadvantage any students, i.e., multilingual students whose first language is not English. They need to reflect their cultural and linguistic backgrounds and avoid raising concerns of bias or exclusion thus privileging certain cultural taste or knowledge. Over-assessment should also be avoided allowing space for students to catch up and thrive. Adjustments should be made to allow for flexibility in assessment taking into consideration students’ mental health issues and well-being. Additional learning support should also be available to support all students including the low-performing ones or those who face any specific learning difficulties. Finally, opportunities for learners to develop specific assessment-related skills, i.e., presentation or IT skills, need to be offered to ensure all students have equal opportunities to succeed.
Educational institutions should therefore try to decolonise assessment considering their students’ profile, mindset, aspirations, and challenges. Educators also need to show empathy fostering students’ self-awareness and celebrating their differences. Therefore, our pedagogy needs to be informed by awareness of the ethnicity awarding gap ensuring transparency about learning expectations in terms of assessment including the voices and experiences of those typically silenced in education. Diversity should be promoted, and educators need to encourage dialogue and collaboration but how can we accomplish that? This should also be reflected in our assessment choices by promoting i.e., peer assessment. Our overarching aim should be to support the development of self-esteem, confidence, and engagement of all students by encouraging variety and optionality coordinating the pace and spacing of assessment so as to reduce stress and anxiety.
The AEA-Europe Inclusive Assessment SIG aims to explore how Education can achieve Social Justice through Assessment inspired from the work on assessment for learning. Our goal is to promote a vision of social justice for Education, through curriculum, pedagogies, and assessment, as assessment drives learning and determines success in Education. We therefore would like to ask for your thought as educators. How can we widen participation promoting inclusive assessment design and practices? An inclusive assessment strategy can have an impact on student outcomes reducing the awarding gaps. As classrooms become increasingly diverse in all educational levels, educators should be focusing on inclusive practices in teaching and learning to accommodate the diverse student needs and expectations. The AEA-Europe Inclusive Assessment SIG aims to respond to an increasing demand and need for an inclusive approach in assessment for accessibility, opportunity, relevance, and engagement. I would kindly invite you to join us to discuss issues concerning fairness and inclusion in educational assessment so that our work includes the voices of all students irrespective of background.
If you want to contribute to our discussions about Inclusive Assessment, we invite you to join our SIG: https://aea-europe.net/inclusive-assessment-sig-membership-request-form/ and/or join AEA-Europe: https://aea-europe.net/about-us/join-us/
For more information, please send me an email: Dr Eleni Meletiadou, Chair of the AEA-Europe Inclusive Assessment SIG firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources of information:
- Meletiadou, E. (2022). Policies and Practices for Assessing Inclusive Teaching and Learning. IGI Global Publishers.
- Meletiadou, E. (2022). Nurturing Student Writing Knowledge, Self-Regulation, and Attitudes in Higher Education: The Use of Self-Assessment as an Inclusive Practice. IGI Global Publishers.
- Meletiadou, E. (2022). The Use of Peer Assessment as an Inclusive Learning Strategy in Higher Education Institutions: Enhancing Student Writing Skills and Motivation. In Meletiadou, E. (Ed). Policies and Practices for Assessing Inclusive Teaching and Learning. IGI Global Publishers.
- Meletiadou, E. (in press). Profiling the Writing Competency of BAME Undergraduate Students: Fostering Inclusion and Academic Success to Improve Retention in Tertiary Education. In E. Meletiadou (Ed.). Promising Practices for Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education. IGI Global Publishers.
- Said Pace, D. (2022). Inclusive Teaching and Learning: Starting in the Mind. In Meletiadou, E. (Ed). Policies and Practices for Assessing Inclusive Teaching and Learning. IGI Global Publishers.
Dr Eleni Meletiadou is a Course Leader/Senior Lecturer at London Metropolitan University Guildhall School of Business and Law. She is an enthusiastic educational assessment, peer learning/mentoring, and writing scholar. She is also an award-winning instructional strategist, researcher, and adviser with 20+ years of experience in designing and successfully implementing high-quality, learner-focused educational programs in further and higher education. She acts as a reviewer and editor at various international academic journals. Her global research experience extends to 35 countries including Cyprus, Greece, and the United Kingdom as she is the Dissemination Grant Coordinator of the EU-funded Eurofam Network. She is the Chair of the European Association of Educational Assessment (AEA-Europe) Inclusive Assessment SIG and the Conference Track Chair of the British Academy of Management Knowledge & Learning SIG. Her areas of expertise include: Education for Social Justice, peer learning/mentoring/coaching, inclusive assessment, writing, e-learning, multilingualism, intercultural communication, blended learning.