Shinn, E., & Ofiesh, N. (2012). Cognitive diversity and the design of classroom tests for all learners . Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability , 25 (3), 227–245.

Journal Article
Shinn, E., & Ofiesh, N. (2012). Cognitive diversity and the design of classroom tests for all learners. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 25(3), 227–245.


[no doi reported]; also located on ERIC online database at


Attention problem; Braille; Dictated response; Dictated response (speech recognition system); Electronic administration; Electronic administration; Electronic administration; Emotional/Behavioral disability; Extended time; Layout/organization of test items; Learning disabilities; Oral delivery; Postsecondary; Speech/Language disability; Text-to-speech device/software; U.S. context; Word processing (for writing)




Many accommodations and assessment design considerations were discussed in this review of literature, framed in terms of three central cognitive concerns for students in postsecondary education: access demands, such as visual-spatial thinking and language comprehension; test output demands, such as processing speed and visual-motor integration; and access and output in combination, such as working memory and attention.


Not applicable for this literature review; however, the authors included cognitive diversity that was disability related:  postsecondary students participating in the studies included those with attentional problems, learning disabilities, speech-language impairments, emotional-behavioral disabilities, and sensory impairments. Other areas associated with cognitive diversity such as poverty and non-English native languages were minimized in this summary. The researchers further indicated that the focus was on the U.S. educational system.

Dependent Variable

Not applicable for this literature review; in general, researchers addressed course-related examinations.


Fitting with the cognitive issues being reviewed, the researchers described both universal design and accommodations solutions, including for access demands, font size, text-to-speech software, and other presentation and appearance-based aspects; and for output demands, extended-time, word-processing and keyboard composition via computer access, and dictation software. The researchers presented a model for training university instructors to implement universal design and accommodations. Future research directions were suggested.