Inclusive Teaching. Why seek to teach inclusively?. Teaching is one of the most rewarding activities you can undertake – as long as it is done well. And good inclusive teaching is good teaching per se . The quality of undergraduate teaching can bear a good deal of improvement.
Teaching is one of the most rewarding activities you can undertake – as long as it is done well. And good inclusive teaching is good teaching per se.
The quality of undergraduate teaching can bear a good deal of improvement.
Teaching ability is becoming increasingly important in promotions criteria for academic staff. Inclusive teaching is increasingly seen as a part of this.
What is the purpose of university teaching?
Please spend five minutes discussing this with the person next to you.
‘To enable student learning’ (Ramsden, 2003).
Adopting ‘inclusive’ teaching practices that cater to a diverse range of students.
Question: What do we mean by ‘inclusion’ and ‘Diversity’? Please spend five minutes discussing this with the person next to you.
“Terms used in broadest sense to mean issues relating to all student and to types of teaching and learning that fully and equitably include everyone in the classroom or in the programme cohort” (Grace and Gravestock, 2009).
“Harkening back to the time when coalminers took canaries into mines to monitor air quality, if the canaries died, they knew that the atmosphere threatened the miners’ well-being too. We are also at a ‘coalface’. The international student ‘canaries’ thankfully show us their difficulties in less dramatic ways but nevertheless point out aspects of our teaching that all students will probably experience as challenges. By paying attention, we can change conditions to make sure that everyone can thrive in the higher education environment. If we improve conditions for international students, we improve them for all learners”.
Ryan and Carroll (2005)
How should we understand ‘inclusive teaching’? Some considerations:
Good teaching for diverse groups is good teaching per se.
Inclusion and diversity are fluid concepts
A student-centred approach.
Good teaching cannot exist in a vacuum; support from above and appropriate university structures are important.
The scholarship of learning and teaching are important.
Flexibility of approach and avoidance of stereotyping are paramount.
Take 10 minutes to discuss with the person sitting next to you.
Structural aspect of learning (Act of organising and experiencing).
Holistic approach: Preserves the structure, focuses on the whole in relation to the parts. Relating the components of a given task in a connected structure.
Atomistic: Distorts the structure, focuses on the parts, segments the whole. Keeping the components of a given task isolated.
Meaning aspect of learning. Attaching significance to the task.
Deep approach: Focuses on what the task is about (e.g. authors intention in writing an academic paper).
Surface approach: Focuses on the ‘signs’ (e.g. the word-sentence level of the text, such as memorising passages rather than understanding the meaning of text).
A note on approaches to learning and teaching: the same student or teacher often takes different approaches in different subjects and/or different contexts.
Progression of thinking about diversity:
Multiculturalism (Three S model). Danger of stereotyping (Cousin 2006).
Cultural hybridity (our mongrel selves) recognises diversity in the individual (Hall 1992).
Critical Race Theory (Gillborn 2008).
Cosmopolitanism (linked with global citizenry). Sees diversity as a strength and recognises shared humanity of all (Fine 2007, Gilroy 2000, Kant 1965)
Constructivist theory of learning (NOT constructivism about knowledge).
Transformative education. Student experience goes beyond the transfer of skills/knowledge.
Reflective practice involving interrogation of our own learning processes.
Move from pedagogic practice to andragogic practice (Knowles, 1990).
Internationalised curriculum and sensitivity to different points of view.
Student-centred approach; student experience is focus of teaching strategy
Learning experience goes beyond classroom activities
Diversity in programme and curriculum design: Representation, expression, and engagement.
Good inclusive practice includes:
Offering a range of (innovative) assessment methods
Offering “practice” assessments throughout the year
Offering peer assessment
Encouraging students to write about their own contexts
Assessors finding out about assessment practices elsewhere
Giving clear, unambiguous feedback
Hallmarks of pedagogic practice:
Dominant form of teaching in HE is pedagogy: Didactic, traditional, and teacher-centred. (Knowles, 1990; Nelson, 2007).
In pedagogic practice the teacher decides what is learned, how it is learned, and when it is learned (Knowles, 1984).
Pedagogic practice places learner in submissive role to teacher.
Pedagogy actively encourages the learner to become dependent upon the teacher (Knowles, 1984).
Pedagogic approaches may well be appropriate for children.
Underpinnings of an andragogic approach to teaching:
Learners are encouraged to move from dependency to self-directedness in their learning.
Adult learners have a wealth of life experience that can be used a resource for developing learning.
Engagement with learning is driven by complex factors such as career aspirations and problems encountered in real life.
More focus on learner development and performance (rather than being subject centred).
There are a number of overlaps between andragogic teaching practice and ‘inclusive’ teaching practice.
Student-centred learning sits at the heart of both andragogy and inclusivity.
As well as accommodating ‘diverse’ student populations, inclusive practice also accommodates intra-group differences (E.g. differences in learning styles).
Inclusive practice/andragogy is not about ‘dumbing down’ or lowering standards.
Leicester (1996) identified four categories of equal opportunity practice:
Promoting equal opportunities as removing unfair/irrelevant barriers
Promoting equal opportunities as increasing ability and motivation
Promoting equal opportunities as the development of ‘respect for all’
Promoting equal opportunities as social engineering
We make a (tentative) claim:
The more effective inclusive practice is, the more invisible it is
Surface embedding: active encouragement across university for staff to engage with issues of inclusion and diversity.
Intermediate embedding: procedures for removing barriers to learning identified and specific policies and guidelines for practice have been developed.
Deep or ‘invisible’ embedding: Issues of inclusion and diversity rarely arise because teaching and learning practices are developed to such a degree that good (inclusive) practice is part and parcel of what the university does.
Ramsden, P. (2003) Learning to Teach in Higher Education (2ndedn) Routledge, Abingdon.
Biggs, J. and Tang, C. (2007) Teaching for Quality Learning at University (3rdedn) SRHE and Open University Press, Buckingham.
Race, P. (2006) The Lecturers Toolkit (3rdedn) Routledge, London.