The Heart of Learning (February 2019 CRT)

[4-minute read] Our 2018-2019 calendar emphasizes developing an understanding & responding to the context of your classroom. We start with an inspirational quote, back it up with research, then provide you with classroom application ideas. Our February 2019 blog post, written by Instructional Designer Peg Raiford, takes a deeper dive into how to provide inclusive assessment.

“Assessment is at the heart of learning. Assessment is for learning. Assessment is learning.” -Sally Brown & Peter Knight, Assessing Learners in Higher Education 

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Rust (2002) concluded from his review of the research on the “impact of assessment on student learning” that “Students are also more likely to be interested and therefore motivated if they have choice in their assessment task” (p. 150).

The inclusive assessment literature recommends student voice in the inclusive assessment process to promote student success. Gay (2010) supports this conclusion: “Thus, variety of tasks and personal participation in the decision-making process about how to demonstrate mastery are hallmark features of the ‘partnership in learning’ principle that informs my teaching” (Gay, 2010 p. 222). Lawrie et al (2017) discussed the importance of student voice “This emphasis on flexibility and on students working with faculty to shape their distinctive assessment paths also underscores the important role of students as partners in inclusive learning communities (p. 7).

Guiding Principles for Inclusive Assessment (Qualters, 2016, pp. 22-23):

  • Be flexible by using a range of methods to respond to the diversity in the student body. Inclusive assessment provides opportunities for students to express their learning in different modes and modalities.
  • Be clear about your learning objectives, and ensure that students understand them and understand how the assessment will measure their progress toward those objectives.
  • Be creative and utilize a variety of assessment methods to measure student performance, and where possible use multiple measures.
  • Be concerned with the collective as well as with the individual. Inclusive assessments should measure both independent and group assignments.
  • Be holistic and remember that inclusive assessment occurs before, during, and after learning, the most important element being frequent targeted feedback.

Applying Inclusive Assessment

Use varied methods of student assessment.

“Use assessment methods that evaluate student performance for work done in class (e.g. quizzes or exams) and out of class (e.g., take-home tests, assignments, or projects). Assess students’ ability to demonstrate their knowledge through different communication modes or modalities (e.g., written reports, oral reports, multi-media presentations).

(a) product assessments: written essays, stories, research reports, projects, etc.

(b) performance assessments: tests, oral presentations, debates, science demonstrations, artistic expression (e.g., visual arts, drama, music) etc., and

(c) process-focused assessments (e.g., oral questioning, interviews, journaling, portfolio development, etc.) (Ginsberg & Wlodkowski, 2009).”

Montenegro and Jankowski (2017) state that “Course-level assessments such as culturally responsive rubrics, portfolios, and capstone projects can lead to more valid, appropriate, holistic, and formative assessment where results are more indicative of what all students can do or lead to more targeted improvements in teaching and learning” (p. 12).

Use two-way feedback.

Inclusive assessment feedback is a two-way street including faculty assessment feedback to students and student voice in the assessment process. Butcher et al (2010) recommend from their research the “Use of smaller chunks of formative assessment” with “prompt feedback” (p. 43) from faculty to scaffold summative evaluation.  Student voice in the assessment process is recommended by Wlodkowski and Ginsberg (1995). “Encourage students to make choices in content and assessment methods based on their experiences, values, needs, and strengths” (Wlodkowski and Ginsberg, 1995 para. 30).

Use a blend of quantitative and qualitative data.

Both quantitative/objective and qualitative/subjective assessment is recommended.  For examples, in the science field request that students both describe and work problems.  In the language arts, ask students to answer multiple-choice questions which provide information about the student’s comprehension of the writing process in addition to writing (Qualters, 2016, p. 23).


To support faculty who are exploring and implementing culturally responsive teaching in their courses, we’ve created a Private Facebook Group to facilitate collegial conversations.

CRTxACC members are encouraged to share resources, experiences, and questions to deepen their understanding of culturally responsive teaching.

Join the Online Community


Brown, S. & Knight, P.  (1994). Assessing Learners in Higher Education.  Kogan Page: London, UK Available from Google Play,

Butcher, J., Sedgwick, P., Lazard, L. & Hey, J. (2010), How might inclusive approaches to assessment enhance student learning in HE?  Enhancing the Learner Experience in Higher Education, 2(1), 25-40. Retrieved from

Gay, G.  (2010). Culturally Responsive Teaching:  Theory, Research, and Practice. 2000. New York, NY:  Teachers College Press.

Ginsberg, M. & Wlodkowski. R. (2009).  Diversity and Motivation: Culturally Responsive Teaching in College.  San Francisco, CA.: Jossey-Bass/Wiley.

Guido. M. (2017, Sept. 14).  15 Culturally-Responsive Teaching Strategies.  [Blog Post]. Retrieved from

Hockings, C.  (2010, April).   Inclusive learning and teaching in higher education:  a synthesis of research. Retrieved from

“Inclusive Assessment.”  Jisc, 9, Oct. 2015, Retrieved from

Lawrie, G., Marquis, E., Fuller, E., Newman, T., Qui, M., Nomikoudis, M., Roelofs, F., & van Dam, L. (2017).  Moving towards inclusive learning and teaching: A synthesis of recent literature. Teaching & Learning Inquiry, 5(1).

 Montenegro, E. & Jankowski, N.  (2017, Jan.) Equity and Assessment:  Moving Towards Culturally Responsive Assessment.   Occasional Paper #29, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment.  Retrieved from

Qualters, D.  (2016). Inclusive Assessment:  Equal or Equitable? Faculty Focus:  Higher Ed Teaching Strategies from Magna Publications, Special Report, Diversity and Inclusion in the College classroom.   Retrieved from

Rust, C. (2002).  The Impact of Assessment on Student Learning:  How Can the Research Literature Practically Help to Inform the Development of Departmental Assessment Strategies and Learner-Centered Assessment Practices?  Active Learning in Higher Education: SAGE Journals, vol 3, issue2, 20. Retrieved from

Soisson, A. & Qualters, D.  Inclusive Assessmentt. Retrieved from

Suskie, L. (2000). Fair Assessment Practices:  Giving Students Equitable Opportunities to Demonstrate Learning, American Association for Higher Education, AAHE Bulletin May 2000. Retrieved from

Wlodkowski, R. and Ginsberg, M. (1995).  A Framework for Culturally Responsive Teaching.  Educational Leadership, 1. Retrieved from

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