Reflections from Academy Forum: How can I make my teaching more inclusive?

What does insivity mean to you wordcloud

Last week’s Academy Forum on inclusivity was one of the best-attended sessions this year. It was great to see so much interest and commitment in developing more inclusive teaching. This session was delivered in partnership with Student Support Services. Accessibility Advisor Nicky Cashman provided staff with information on demographics at AU as well as support available to students.  

The session started from a broad question of ‘what does inclusivity means to you’ (see the word cloud we created above). After Nicky’s introduction, we moved onto a scenario-based activity. Each group was given one scenario to work with. Every few minutes each group received and an additional piece of information providing them with a broader perspective of the situation.

The scenarios can be found at the bottom of the post.

The activity was followed by a whole-group discussion. Staff talked about a ‘duty of care’ towards their students and the extent to which they are expected and should be monitoring their students. We also talked about the balance between taking care of individual students and the needs of the entire cohort. The group looking at scenario one rightly pointed out that more inclusive practice would be to ensure that students are pre-assigned to groups, to avoid situations when someone is excluded. A discussion on when alternative assessments are appropriate and where additional support in completing existing assessments would be more suitable. Finally, the importance of establishing trust with students as well as checking in with students who may show early signs of difficulties was discussed.

We are very grateful to Nicky and all staff who attended and contributed to this session.

Book on future Academy Forums:

Fforwm Academi: Addysgu grwpiau bychain

Academy Forum 7: How can I embed wellbeing into the curriculum?

Academy Forum 8: Preparing Students for Assessments

Academy Forum 9: Reflections on this year’s Academy Forum



Scenario 1: John, a student in a first-year module you run has not attended any of the seminars. They got a decent mark for the first assignment and attended most of the lectures, but you always see them coming in a bit late and leaving straight after the lecture finishes.

NEW INFORMATION: The second assignment in this module is group work. You’ve asked students to provide you with a list of groups they will be working in, but John is not assigned to any of the groups and he did not contact you to explain why.

NEW INFORMATION: The group you’ve assigned John to contacted you saying they cannot get hold of him and that he did not attend any of the meetings they organised.

NEW INFORMATION: John has finally contacted you and revealed that he is struggling with social anxiety. He says he is not able to take part in the group work and is worried he will fail the module as a result.

Scenario 2: Catrin is a 3rd-year student who you haven’t taught before. It is the 4th week of teaching during Semester 2 and Catrin has only attended the first session of the module in week 1. She hasn’t been attending any of the live sessions but you can see from Panopto that she has watched about 50% of the pre-recorded lectures. Her average score for her degree from the first semester is 47%.

NEW INFORMATION: You’ve tried emailing Catrin a few times to check in on her and to arrange a meeting but you haven’t had a reply from her.

NEW INFORMATION: You can see from her student record that she averaged 69% in her first year and 74% in her second year.

NEW INFORMATION: After emailing Catrin a few more times, she finally got back in touch with you and agreed to meet with you. During your meeting, Catrin disclosed that she is the main carer for her mother who was diagnosed with terminal cancer 3 months ago.

Scenario 3: You have been teaching Lisa for the second time. You noticed that similarly to the last module which had some sessions starting at 9am, she is also skipping all lectures taking place in the morning. It has been three weeks and Lisa has not attended any of the morning sessions.

NEW INFORMATION: You’ve checked Panopto statistics and Lisa seemed to watch all session she has missed. She also has a lot of questions and sends you a lot of e-mails, all of which are sent to you in the middle of the night.

NEW INFORMATION: Despite missing early morning lectures, Lisa is always present and very active during seminars. She often dominates discussions, interrupting others and occasionally reacting with anger to someone disagreeing with her points. 

NEW INFORMATION: Lisa got a poor mark from her last assignment and she is really upset. She came to speak to you about it and in the conversation she told you that she has previously been diagnosed with ADHD, but she did not disclose it to Support Services.

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