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Subject:

Re: Exam arrangements

From:

Penny Georgiou <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Penny Georgiou <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 20 Apr 2012 09:54:19 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (53 lines)

:-)

PG
-----Original Message-----
From: Paul Smyth [mailto:[log in to unmask]] 
Sent: 20 April 2012 09:52
To: Penny Georgiou; [log in to unmask]
Subject: RE: Exam arrangements

Hi

This is all very interesting and has certainly got me thinking....though I had to read Penny's last email about four times before I fully understood it! 

Regards, Paul 

-----Original Message-----
From: Discussion list for disabled students and their support staff. [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Penny Georgiou
Sent: 19 April 2012 20:12
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Exam arrangements

That's a very interesting point, Natalya. 

Often, those who present with what appear to be difficulties are just tripping over the dysfunctions of what is ordinarily accepted as normal. Sometimes, simply affirming that what they notice is correct but just that particularity of others, rather than their 'difficulty', they are better able to navigate; ie trust their perceptions and then to calibrate them in relation to normal a-perceptions, since normality consist in not noticing a great deal. 

Kind regards, 

PG 


-----Original Message-----
From: Discussion list for disabled students and their support staff. [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Natalya Dell
Sent: 19 April 2012 20:07
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Exam arrangements

On 19/04/12 19:48, Penny Georgiou wrote:
> The issue here is likely to be linked to a lack of metaphor - taking
things literally and not knowing how to articulate ideas (make connections between them). eg, a difficulty with recognising synonyms and to realise that text can be referring to the same thing but presenting it in a different way - as with examination questions.

Another issue is the fundamental design of many exam papers themselves.
 I used to work for one of the large exam boards in the question paper design unit. The examiner wrote the paper but our team was responsible for ensuring that paper was written to the appropriate standards which during my employment were governed by an Ofqual document called "Fair access by design" archived at http://www.ofqual.gov.uk/files/pdf-05-1941-fair-access-design-final-v2.pdf.

An example of an exam paper standard was how words were used.  So volume would never be used to describe a book because it could also mean quantity.  Settlement was never used for "village" because a settlement could also be an agreement.  Instead of modifying papers on a case by case basis for deaf/dyslexic/other disabled student at the point of exam delivery many core papers were being auto-modified by specialists (e.g teachers of the deaf) at an early stage and the examiners/question paper units trained to write more clearly.

Other standards include recommended structures, breaking out the wording with typesetting, use of bullets and ensuring the questions are as absolutely clear as possible and not relying on inference or  seemingly small things like how many lines per answer based on the number of points and range of expected/acceptable answers. A 1 mark question would be unlikely to have 6 lines to answer in.  The idea behind this was research evidence which suggested pupils are affected by the type of answer space a question has.


The reason I'm pointing this stuff out is that I was appalled upon starting work at university with how poor exam paper design is in comparison.  There seems to be no consistent concept of exam setters thinking how the questions are understood, no consistent rigorous
language checking, no basic layout and design sensibility and so on.   I
don't know if it is appropriate for DSA reports to say "ensure exam papers are designed to high quality standards" or if there's any good HEI guidance but there are definitely systemic issues which if fixed might reduce the sorts of difficulties students with ASDs have in managing that style of assessment.

Natalya

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