Inclusive teaching is not about lowering standards. Instead, it is about ensuring our students can work in a way that enables them to fulfil their academic potential by enabling them to work effectively in a way that is transparent, efficient, and flexible.
Rethinking the narrative of inclusivity
The term inclusion can be difficult to define and measure (Neely-Barnes and Elswick, 2016: 145), which can result in a lack of clarity regarding how to implement meaningful practical changes.
Whilst the motivation behind inclusive teaching is positive, in reality this can be problematic and daunting when teaching a large cohort of students with potentially very different needs. This is largely due to the fact that the dominant narrative on inclusion focuses on notions of 'individual difference'. Therefore, the challenge for higher education, is to move beyond labels, which seek to categorise individual difference.
Patterns beyond labels
Many students from traditionally marginalised groups will face similar challenges in the context of learning in Higher Education. It is also important to note that these students do not experience distinctly different challenges than those of the wider student cohort. Rather, they often experience a more exaggerated version of the difficulties that all students face. Therefore, if we tailor our teaching and learning to meet the needs of this particular cohort, then all students will benefit. This becomes possible when we identify patterns in difficulty across three key areas of inclusion: Physical, Cultural, and Cognitive.
Refers to the learning environment and access to learning.
For example, ramp access to buildings; recording of lectures.
Refers to the content we teach and the examples we use.
For example, having examples that are relevant to your students; decolonising curricula.
Refers to how students assimilate, process, recall and synthesise the knowledge we impart.
For example, breaking up lectures with interactive activities; mapping out steps in a process.
Supporting the needs of all learners
General approaches to teaching and learning
Inclusive practice can be developed as part of your general teaching and learning provision (the bottom tier of the pyramid model). Embedded inclusive approaches will support all students to succeed and promote opportunities for learning which are effective, efficient, and flexible. Developing inclusive practice will also help to anticipate student needs which will, in turn, reduce the need to make adjustments for individual students.
Tailored provision for individual students based on specific needs
In addition to general approaches to inclusive teaching and learning, student DAPs outline individual adjustments associated with specific support labels which will enable them to fully access and engage with the curriculum (middle tier).
Signposting for specialised support
As well as supporting your students within the curriculum, there are various professional services which can provide additional support to students. A student’s support needs may fluctuate over time and it may be necessary to signpost students to further support. For example, students with a DAP may also be able to access specialised provision to support them such as mentoring or study skills. Students may also require access to specialised provision such as counselling. For further guidance on how to signpost students to specialised services click here.
What do we mean?
Design inclusive curricula so that all students can develop a sense of belonging, purpose, and identity.
Recognise the differing needs of students at all levels, particularly those who represent communities that may have been marginalised or historically under-represented in the discipline.
Promote student integration into the learning community through supportive approaches to content and assessment.
Email the Curriculum Development Team to discuss which are most suitable for your discipline and to give you guidance on putting them into practice within your session, unit, year, and course.