Inclusive Curricula, Teaching and Learning at QMUL: a report

1 Theme 1 Topic View

Dr Emma Kennedy introduces an important report on inclusivity in QMUL's curricula and teaching: how can we improve?

Background:

The report was commissioned in April 2016 in order to investigate how inclusive QMUL’s teaching and learning provision, including its curricula, really are – and how we can become more inclusive as an educational institution. It was written by Dr Helen Kara and Roxanne Persaud, on behalf of We Research It Ltd.

17 staff and 22 students were interviewed; alongside this, Kara and Persaud analysed pre-existing resources such as QMUL’s existing provision.

The researchers found that there was a ‘great deal of demographic difference between schools at QMUL’ and that among QMUL staff and students there were ‘a wide range of understandings of inclusivity’. However, staff and students were united in seeing good communication as vital for inclusivity, along with support for new staff and new students, diverse assessment methods, and more involvement of students in co-creation of curricula. One thing students also highlighted was the importance of technological support for learning, such as Q-Review, not just being used but being used consistently throughout the institution (Kara and Persaud: 1).

Key Actions from the Report

The report suggests several actions that should be taken, whether by the institutions as a whole or by individual departments. (Kara and Persaud: 2).

  1. QMUL could develop and communicate a clear vision of success in inclusive HE.
  2. QMUL could identify where responsibility sits for inclusivity within the organisation.
  3. QMUL could work with QMSU to develop a theory of change for inclusivity.
  4. QMUL could define its own protected characteristics, combine them with those protected by legislation, and collect and use data to map QMUL’s unique ecology of intersectionality.
  5. QMUL could consider the usefulness or otherwise of defining the terminology around inclusivity, given that inclusivity is a developing topic and the academic convention of prioritising definitions may itself, to some extent, be exclusive.
  6. QMUL could involve students in developing a set of broad inclusivity principles for curriculum design, including feedback and assessment, to be used within all faculties  and schools.
  7. QMUL could widen its use of supportive technology such as Q Review.
  8. QMUL could communicate good and innovative practice in inclusivity from individual schools, which would serve to inform and inspire other schools within the university (and beyond) and so build on existing success.
  9. QMUL could enhance its induction programme by adding specialised sections for specific groups of students to help meet their additional needs (as it already does with some groups e.g. international students).
  10. QMUL could work with QMSU to gather evidence of the anecdotally reported problems of students who need support but don’t, or can’t, ask for help – perhaps (depending on the nature of the evidence) to support a case for more resource.
  11. QMUL could review and revise the personal adviser system with a view to improving student support.
  12. QMUL could investigate the sizeable discrepancies in the proportions of students receiving DSA and bursaries in different schools with a view to ensuring there are no structural barriers in any school to the acknowledgement of, and support for, students with disabilities.
  13. Any further research on inclusivity to be conducted within QMUL could be more inclusive in itself, e.g. with students trained to lead or co-lead the project, and with adequate resources of time as well as money.

In the coming months, ADEPT will be publishing a series of posts looking at these individual recommendations on inclusive teaching, going deeper into the data published in the report, and offering tips on how departments and teachers can help work towards the goals. In the meantime, if you have any thoughts on the report, please email the team with your suggestions. We might feature you in a future post!

You can download the full report here.

Interested in inclusivity? Check out the video on Supporting disabled students: working with support services or the Research seminar: Understanding the spatiality of student support and belonging: An exploration of commuter-students’ experiences at an English University – this was a particularly good study of students who commute, a key demographic for QMUL.