Facilitators and barriers in academic assessment of learners with hearing impairment: a case of examinations council of Zambia

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Chifinda, Ruth
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The University of Zambia
The purpose of the study was to examine facilitators and barriers in the academic assessment of learners with hearing impairment (LHI) at Grade 9 level of education. The study used a case study design and utilized qualitative approach. The study had a sample size of fifty participants who included ten teachers, ten item writers, ten examiners, five ECZ Subject Specialist Officers, five Education Standards Officers, three Curriculum Specialist Officers and seven college lecturers. All the participants had a teaching background in the field of Special Education except for some examiners and ECZ Subject Specialist Officers. All participants were selected using purposive sampling technique due to the nature of their work and positions. A questionnaire was administered to gather data on assessment strategies, weaknesses, gaps and best practices and interview guides were used on teachers, lecturers and examiners to gather more detailed information. Data collected was analyzed qualitatively using inductive analysis method. This involved coding and categorizing the merging themes in relation to the study. The study revealed that there were limited examination strategies or facilitators and showed several weaknesses and significant gaps in the process of assessing LHI at Grade 9 level of education by Examinations Council of Zambia. The weaknesses/barriers and gaps have to a large extent negatively affected the academic performance of LHI in public examinations. As part of the strategies to support LHI during assessment, the learners were given 25 percent extra time and reading of examination instructions in sign language. However there were several gaps in the assessment of the LHI which included; limitations in methods of test administration, inappropriate assessment tools, insistence on use of written standard British English as a communication mode, time limitation, and lack of qualified specialist Hearing Impaired teachers to set test items and mark examinations as well as handling invigilation related challenges of examinations. Arising from these findings the study recommended as strategies to improve the assessment of LHI, use of adapted/modified English alongside Sign Language Interpreters; increased use of objective tests and continuous assessment (CA). Further, the study recommended that qualified Hearing Impaired specialist teachers are trained in marking and setting of examinations for LHI. Key words: Facilitators, barriers, hearing impairment, assessment, Strategies.
Academic performance--hearing impaired--Zambia