Course 3, Week 1: Shaping Your Curriculum

This week’s learning was focussed around inclusivity, which was interetsing and insightful. The focus on inclusivity was important for my group project, as my team and I are developing our course design around inclusive practice.

When introducing the course, language is the first topic tackled. This is one of the more prominent barriers to learning at Coventry University London, with 70%+ international students with English as an Additional Language (EAL). Here, we are advised to use language to faculties feelings on inclusion, avoiding local or cultural expressions, such as ‘break a leg’. Not only should such language be avoided due to confusions with the contextual understanding between different cultures, but also to be inclusive of people with disabilities, who cannot understand idioms.

Inclusivity and learning for all

It is clear that there are continued attainment gaps between different societal groups, which occur due to a number of reasons. As stated by the Office for Students (OfS), Higher Education Institutions should ensure that students, no matter what background are able to participate in a fulfilling experience, which enriches their lives and careers. The OfS, who is an independent regulator of higher education in England has published the below (Strategic objectives can also be found here):

What I found very useful for our group project was the specifc group identified as more likley to … from the attainment gap. These groups are what my team and I specifically noted should be included as part of the content for our first PGDip module. By opening up the discussion on inclusiivty and the attainment gap in M09, our module will work as a fantatsic transition from PGCert to PGDip and higher levels of learning and specialisms. The groups are:

  • Mature students
  • Low socio-economic background
  • Care-leavers
  • Disabled
  • Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME)

Gaps not included on FutureLearn, but to be considered for the group project modules include gender, sexuality, religion, etc.

Interesting comments and reflections were provided here:

An area I often consider when designing lessons is the use of student-led teaching practice and allowing flexibility in teaching. However, the practice of ‘cocreation’ really hit me as something that would be hard to actively allow participation from a course/module perspective. How can a full module or course experience by co-created to fit each group or cohort? Of course, authentic assessment, student-led teaching methods and other practices can be used, but does this fit the bill for cocreation?

Using the Course Quality Enhancement and Monitoring (CQEM) process was recommended as a good starting point in reviewing and updating curricula to more inclusive design. By using data on student groups, completion rates, graduate outcomes, etc. course teams can begin to identify the attainment gaps.

A second method to review modules and course inclusiveness has been developed by Kingston University. The video provided here is a good breakdown, with all supporting files here. I really liked this method, as it provides more structure for reviewing actions completed and adding ideas to move forward under important T&L aspects: concept, content, learning & teaching, assessment, feedback, review. In reference to my course design, I added this comment:

The wider community and a sense of belonging

In every university, the Course Team will play an instrumental role in creating an inclusive education. However, as noted on FutureLearn, many student services will play a significant role in accessing education and reducing the attainment gap, including departments such as: Registry, Students’ Union, Library, Learning enhancement team. In addition, departments that continue the professional development of staff are important for continued course developments for student and staff benefit.

In addition to considering these services from the perspective of teaching and learning inclusivity, all departments play a role in creating a sense of community and identity. See the below screenshot taken the below from FutureLearn:

As part of my current role, I lead on engagement events to promote a sense of shared community and identity. This has involved long-thin inductions, as well as social events and connecting with the local community. I have enjoyed these opportunities, using student feedback to improve student engagement events to promote a sense of belonging and improve retention rates. It would be great to see what I run for students at the start of each enrolment is taken on and embedded further into the curriculum, rather than a bolt-on.

From a students perspective (as seen on the FutureLearn video), students feel more included when all of our learning from the PGCAPHE is accounted for, for example using student-led teaching, working as part of a greater HE community, authentic assessments, etc. The more we, as educators, give to our course design and supporting our students learning experience as well as professional and personal development, the more our students will engage and achieve.

Review of the week

I feel this week could have been split into two, taking a deeper look at each societal group and specific causes for the attainment gap. However, I will continue to develop my knowledge independently, using what I have learnt from my Sociology BSc and MA.

The most challenging points for me were around active co-creation of content. I will use the sources provided to me by the Module Leader to develop ideas on co-creation, which I can apply in my teaching roles.

Moving forward, my team and I will need to review our course design so far and make adjustments to ensure our Inclusivity theme is truly covered, with plenty of opportunities to role model and showcase how inclusive learning can be embedded into the curriculum.

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