Assessment Guidance

Assessment Guidance when marking work of students identified as having a Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD) - Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, ADD and ADHD.

Primary page content

Specific learning difficulties can affect:

  • Ability to plan and organise work, structuring difficulties
  • Word recognition, spelling accuracy and fluency
  • Numeracy
  • Short term memory
  • Difficulties in terms of spatial recognition
  • Can affect the ability to follow instructions

General Advice

Markers might find it easier to skim the assignment quickly first before a closer reading. This may allow the ideas the student is presenting to come through.

Mark for ideas and knowledge, rather than presentation. As far as possible, discount errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation and instead mark for content and ideas and critical acumen.

Allowances should also be made for unorthodox narratives and for problems with structure/organisation but only where these do not hinder understanding of the content. You are not expected to give marks for what is not there or what is so unclear that no sense can be made of it.

Some students’ difficulties with written expression can mean that understanding the work is extremely difficult. In such cases, lecturers should give some detailed feedback and guidance.

It may be helpful to both marker and student to use two pens when marking assessments (with this form attached). Use one colour to comment on the content/material and the use of ideas and the other for comments on the use of Standard English.

  • Marking for content over form may require re-reading the assessment.
  • Marking the work of a dyslexic student is likely to take longer than marking the work of other students.

Feedback to students

Comments will be most effective if they are clear explanations of what is wrong and what could be done to rectify the error. Students appreciate explicit guidance on what is good in the essay as well as what is wrong.

Such students are unlikely to find general statements such as ‘a point needs developing’ as helpful (due to their disability).

Academic Standard

It is recognised that accurate spelling, grammar, punctuation and structure (i.e. Standard English) may form explicit parts of the assessment. It is likely that most programmes will require students to demonstrate the use of Standard English as an implicit ‘programme’ learning outcome.

This should, however, be stated explicitly in programme specifications.  If you are unsure whether the use of ‘standard English’ is a requirement in the assessment you are marking, you should seek advice from your department.

Whilst departments may utilise explicit marking criteria for the use of ‘Standard English’ for coursework, it may not be a requirement for take-home papers, exams etc).

If the use of ‘standard English’ has not been cited within the marking criteria for the assessment you are marking you should follow the guidance above.