The influence of a response format test accommodation for college students with and without disabilities

Kyle Potter, Lawrence Lewandowski, Laura Spenceley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Standardised and other multiple-choice examinations often require the use of an answer sheet with fill-in bubbles (i.e. ‘bubble’ or Scantron sheet). Students with disabilities causing impairments in attention, learning and/or visual-motor skill may have difficulties with multiple-choice examinations that employ such a response style. Such students may request and receive testing accommodations that intend to mitigate these impairments, such as circling responses in a test booklet, which contains both the questions and corresponding multiple-choice answers. The current study evaluated this test accommodation as compared to using a bubble sheet or Scantron on a multiple-choice vocabulary test. College students with (n = 25) and without (n = 76) disabilities completed a vocabulary test under both booklet (accommodated) and bubble sheet (standard) conditions. Results demonstrated that answering in a test booklet, a much preferred response mode, allowed students to attempt significantly more items than using a bubble sheet, improving their overall test scores. Booklet responding tends to improve overall performance, even for students without disabilities, calling into question the specificity and validity of this accommodation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)996-1007
Number of pages12
JournalAssessment and Evaluation in Higher Education
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2 2016


  • assessment
  • disability
  • multiple choice
  • response format
  • test accommodation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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