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Supporting the Learner Without Compromising Fairness

Completion requirements

Some learners will need support on various levels and at various stages of the learning program in order to maximize their potential. Support should be seen as an integral part of all learning.

There are many practical ways in which educators can adapt the way in which activities and assessment are planned, structured and conducted, e.g.:

  • Learners should be given sufficient time to demonstrate competency in the assessment tasks. Learners can be given more time, not only to write tests but also to demonstrate outcomes through all other methods of assessment. Multiple opportunities also need to be provided to improve work and to achieve optimally.
  • Learners can have the papers/task instructions read to them and they can dictate their answer to an educator/learner/other person who writes it down to be marked. Learners can also dictate their answers on a cassette. This can assist learners with reading and writing barriers, severe visual barriers and those with physical barriers that affect their hand movements.
  • Assessment can include a practical component so that learners can demonstrate their competence without having to use language. This is a more suitable assessment of learner’s competence if they have language problems. Remember that OBE acknowledges outcomes in skills, values, and attitudes in addition to knowledge.
  • Develop an activity or task to substitute the task being done by the rest of the class, e.g. a learner with physical disability in an Arts and Culture or Life Orientation activity to demonstrate a specific outcome.
  • Design activities which can allow learners to demonstrate a level of competence and to achieve an outcome.

The purpose of alternative or adaptive methods of assessment is therefore to minimise the impact of a range of intrinsic and extrinsic barriers upon the assessment performance of the learner. The provision of alternative assessment is simply to accommodate the functional differences of some learners. The aim is:

  • To achieve the balance between meeting individual needs while maintaining assessment validity – i.e. to address the barrier, not to compensate for it. This is an essential part of providing learning support.
  • To avoid implying/establishing/confirming/reinforcing difference, i.e. in an exclusive frame to allow the results of the assessment to reliably reveal the needs of some learners to be supported in the teaching and learning process. This will assist educators to plan intervention strategies in such a way that all barriers are effectively addressed.

Click here to view an explanation on how to support the learner during the assessment.

Impromptu Assessment Instrument Modification

Assessment procedures should address the barriers to learning to make competence accessible to the learner. As not all learners experience the same barriers or need the same level of support, assessment modification becomes a very individual process. Its aim is to assist the learner to demonstrate the same outcome as other learners by changing the task to accommodate the learner's barrier to learning, without changing the core of the outcome. Modification is therefore geared towards the particular learner and not towards the type of disability.

Different types of barriers will have to be addressed through different alternative and/or adaptive methods of assessment. A specific barrier might require more than one adaptation. Strategies to be applied will vary according to whether the barrier is long-standing, recently acquired, fluctuating, intermittent or temporary.

The learning site where the assessment is conducted is responsible for the:

  • Audio-tape - the material should be audio-taped well in advance;
  • Enlargement of print of assessment paper;
  • Transcribing of the assessment task into Braille (or appointment of someone to do so);
  • Supply of assistive devices, special equipment, etc.

The learner should know:

  • The kinds of activities that they can be expected to perform.
  • The standard and level of performance expected.
  • The type and amount of evidence to be collected.
  • Their responsibility regarding the collection of evidence.