Marking for assignments in relation to a specific learning difficulty

In line with university guidelines, DClinPsy trainees with a diagnosis of dyslexia have the opportunity to highlight their diagnosis to academic markers by the use of the university's standard coversheet, see link below:

SpLD coursework coversheet

This requests that markers are aware of the relevant guidelines and will be sent as applicable to those marking assignments.

In addition to the university coversheet, an explanatory programme-specific addendum (see below) will be sent to markers to clarify the requirements:

Lancaster DClinPsy Guidance to Markers in relation to trainees with a Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD)

In line with university guidelines, trainees with a diagnosis of dyslexia have the opportunity to highlight their diagnosis to academic markers by the use of the university's standard coversheet, hereby requesting that markers are aware of relevant guidelines. As effective written communication is a specific competence required by clinical psychologists, and in line with BPS guidelines on assessing work of trainees with dyslexia, the programme would like to highlight that markers are requested to provide constructive feedback where issues relevant to the disability are apparent in the work, but NOT to adjust marks for written communication due to this. Reasonable adjustments, such as study skills support and proof reading, are accessible to trainees prior to submission.

Further details of the relevant guidelines can be found below:

Guidelines for the examination and assessment of candidates who have dyslexia (BPS)

Identification of work

All work which is sent to examiners or assessors will be identified by means of a sticker on the front of the work advising the examiner/assessor that the candidate has been diagnosed with dyslexia and referring to these guidelines.

General guidelines for marking work by candidates with dyslexia

An individual with dyslexia has difficulty both with the expression of his/her ideas in written form and with the correct use of language. It is commonly recommended, therefore, that wherever possible assessors award marks that reflect the candidate's understanding of the subject rather than the level of his/her linguistic skills. However, it is not intended that academic rigour be sacrificed, and where the marking criteria award marks for presentation or language special consideration should not be given.

However, some errors might still mean a conditional pass is appropriate. For example, psychologists are often engaged in report writing which requires sources to be correctly referenced. As this is a skill necessary to fulfil the psychologists' role, an adjustment would not normally be made. Similarly, some errors which relate directly to the candidate's dyslexia might result in a fail.

For example, a candidate for the Qualification in Forensic Psychology might include in their evidence a report written for a parole board. This is a key requirement of the forensic psychologist's role and they must be able to do this in order to be a competent forensic psychologist. Adjustments might be made to assist the candidate in preparing such a report to the required standard. However, it is possible that a candidate may lack the necessary skills to communicate in writing to the parole board and, in such circumstances, it would be appropriate for the assessors to fail the work.

University Assessment marking guidelines for students with a SpLD

Academic Standards

You may have concerns about compromising academic standards when making allowances for dyslexia. You should be reassured that the need to maintain academic standards is a fundamental premise within the law. There must be no difference in the requirement for students with dyslexia to provide evidence of learning than for their peers and reasonable adjustments cannot involve failure to penalise lack of knowledge or understanding. Also, where aspects of performance such as accurate spelling and grammar are part of the competence standards for a module, reasonable adjustments do not have to be made.

Providing feedback to trainees

Be sensitive toward individuals and their work. Constructive criticism that is sympathetic to the students' difficulties can help individuals to progress.