Brown DLD Faculty Guides

Inclusive Assessments

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Ideally, your assessments will facilitate students’ learning of the intended learning outcomes, be meaningful, provide a challenge, and do so in a way that is inclusive and equitable. Designing inclusive and equitable assignments means being transparent in the purposes and expectations of the assignment and designing them in such a way that all students can be successful. The principles of Universal Design for Learning are helpful to keep in mind while designing your assessments.

The principles are:

  1. Provide multiple means of engagement: tap into the affective dimensions of learning by highlighting the relevance of tasks, optimizing their value, making them authentic, and providing choice in the ways students engage.
  2. Provide multiple means of representation: present material in multiple ways, guide information processing, and supply important background information.
  3. Provide multiple means of action and expression: Allow students to demonstrate knowledge in various ways, using multiple tools for communication, provide support and feedback.

Examples of Universal Design for Learning in Assessments

For this individual assignment (shown below), students can choose whether they want to submit text or media, thus allowing them a choice in how they can best demonstrate their knowledge and thinking. The instructor provides them with a clear task, due date, and specific expectations about the length of the written or media submission.

Screenshot of Canvas assignment asking students to submit either a text or video analysis

For this discussion assignment (shown below), the instructor provides the content in three formats: video, audio, and text transcript. Students can choose how they'd like to engage with the content. 

Screenshot of a discussion assignment allowing students to either listen to an mp3, download an interview transcript or watch the video

Other Considerations for Inclusive Assessment Design

  • Provide opportunities for students to practice and build their skill in class sessions or through using no or low-stakes assignments before weightier assessments.
  • Draw on the benefits of peer collaboration to provide support for students while they practice and build skill before formal assessments.
  • Communicate the purpose of the assessment and how it will benefit them in other settings in order to enhance motivation and relevance.


CAST (2018).Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.2. Retrieved from

Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. (n.d.).  Equitable Assignment Design. Indiana University Bloomington. Retrieved from

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