Evaluating Students

1. Provide For A Variety Of Ways Of Demonstrating Knowledge

This principle is described best in Creating Curb Cuts in the Classroom, Adapting Universal Design in Education:

One benefit of Universal Instructional Design is that the model addresses individual learner differences by providing alternative methods of…expression, and engagement (CAST)…By providing multiple means of expression, students are given a choice in how they will demonstrate their knowledge of course content. For example, one student may choose to demonstrate knowledge of cell biology via a research paper, whereas another student may choose to give an oral presentation. By providing multiple means of engagement, instructors seek the right balance in how students are engaged in the learning process.[i]

In short, in any learning environment, information should be presented in multiple ways; students should have multiple ways to interact with and respond to curricula and materials; and there should be multiple ways for students to find meaning in the material and thus motivate themselves. [ii]

With regard to evaluation of students, particularly those with hearing loss, educators should consider the modes of testing or evaluation that are preferred and the rationale for those particular modes. How do they affect different types of students, including students with hearing loss? Are they inherently biased toward students with particular skills in expression and representing knowledge? Educators and DS offices should discuss with students with hearing loss the different types of testing and evaluation strategies that have been effective for them. This should be part of an interactive process so that opportunities to engage different strategies can be explored (provided the willingness is present for all parties). In addition, educators and DS offices should explore the preferred modes of testing or evaluation in different disciplines and examine if there are other testing modes of testing or evaluation that may achieve equal, if not more effective, results in assessing student learning and performance.

2. Use Technology To Enhance Learning

It is important to acknowledge the potential of technology in providing access and learning opportunities for all students, while at the same time recognizing that it is not a panacea. Great strides have been made in the last decade to make information technology more accessible to people with disabilities. Experience with UID has shown that technology may be the key to increasing flexibility in courses. Putting materials on-line, arranging for course listservs, and selecting software that is compatible with screen readers may assist all students in accessing materials in their own time in a manner that is accessible to them. The key is to not exclude students by using technology that is not accessible.[iii]


[i]. See, CTAD, id. at endnote 10.

[ii]. From Bowe, Frank, 2000. Universal Design in Education: Teaching Nontraditional Students, Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey.

[iii]. See CTAD, id. at endnote 10.