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Universal Assessment: Reflections on Equitable Evaluations in a Sri Lankan Higher Education Classroom

Author:

Shalini A. Abayasekara

University of Colombo, LK
About Shalini
Probationary Lecturer, Department of English
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Abstract

This article considers issues of equity in tertiary level assessment in the context of students with disabilities (SWDs). Using the concept of universal design for learning (UDL), it highlights two approaches educators can take – a) formulating a uniform assessment for all students including those with disabilities, or b) designing alternative assessments for SWDs. The article also examines existing models and definitions of disability, their interplay with assessment within the framework of UDL, and conditions for SWDs in the Sri Lankan higher education environment. It takes a specific instance where assessment was adjusted to suit the needs of an undergraduate student with a hearing impairment (HI) and analyzes it as a case study, combining aspects of autoethnography to obtain an in-depth view of the student’s perspectives on the changed assessment, my own evaluation practice, and assessment practices in general. Building on my own reflections through a semi-structured interview, key ways in which the student approaches learning, and particularly assessment, are outlined. They include a consideration of how given tasks relate to the entire class, the time needed for completion, sensitivity to individual strengths and group dynamics, general awareness regarding deafness, and assessment type. Student consultation in assessment design and educator cognizance and training also surface as important factors, all of which together could contribute towards the navigation of disability in respectful and productive ways.
How to Cite: Abayasekara, S. A. (2021). Universal Assessment: Reflections on Equitable Evaluations in a Sri Lankan Higher Education Classroom. University of Colombo Review, 2(1), 102–118. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/ucr.v2i1.41
Published on 01 May 2021.
Peer Reviewed

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