Universities Scotland

Race Equality Toolkit

Learning and Teaching

Racial Equality Considerations in Assessment

#6Questions to consider for promoting race equality and good assessment practice

The table below draws from the previous sections to provide a “quick glance” checklist of questions which programme designers and reviewers may find useful

Taking into account students from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds

Explain assessment criteria in plain English.

Check at different points of the course that these requirements are understood.

Signal at different points of the course why certain components or concepts are key and where they fit into the assessment framework.

Provide explicit briefs that assist students to consider issues of structure, the meaning of critical engagement with concepts, and ways to posit arguments intellectually.

Make explicit the grading scheme for the course.

Meeting different learner styles

Vary assessment components. Avoid relying on a single type of assessment.

Consider using formative assessment as well as summative assessments where possible.

Promoting race equality

Assessment criteria could reward the consideration of multicultural/international perspectives where possible and appropriate.

In planning peer marking, prepare all students to take a positive approach to ethnic difference and cultural and linguistic diversity. Have clear assessment criteria that students are familiarised with in order to reduce the risk of discrimination in marking.

Promoting inclusion

Implement anonymous marking and double marking, particularly for presentations and project work.

Reward different abilities e.g. the ability to engage with critical reflection as well as the ability to summarise information from a variety of sources cogently and rigorously.

Where possible take into account religious/belief observances when scheduling deadlines, presentations and exams.

Make use of on-line lectures or podcasts to enable students to catch up if sessions are missed due to religious observances.

Continuous improvement

Monitor student performance and attrition rates across different ethnic groups. Identify any areas for action.

Encourage all students to utilise staff/student consultative committees and module evaluation forms to feed back any particular needs in relation to assessment. Find ways of encouraging minority ethnic students, students for whom English is an additional language, and international students to use these mechanisms for feedback.


Provide clear and sufficient advice (a statement in the course handbook is not sufficient).

Exemplify what plagiarism means e.g. good referencing/poor referencing — using on-line tutorials such as the ones developed by the University of Northampton.

The on-line tutorial produced by Dundee College is also helpful as it demonstrates that plagiarism is more than just poor referencing.

Some of the ideas above were adapted from material from the Centre for Development in Learning and Teaching, Cumbria University.