Inclusive Faculty Boards: Student Reports, Part 2(May 23, 2008)
From Case Studies Wiki
The post is just replicated here to catch all the words for archive purposes, to read the post in its original form and see the links, photos, videos etc., go here:http://www.good.group.shef.ac.uk/blog/?p=245
Continuing the student reports on the Inclusive Learning and Teaching Project recent visits to Faculty Boards….
‘Meeting the Faculty of Arts Board’
With Claire Allam from the Inclusive Learning and Teaching Project and Professor John Barret as both Chair of the the Project’s Steering Committee and Chair of the Faculty of the Arts Board I went to talk to the Faculty of Arts about the Inclusive Learning and Teaching Project.
Starting with introducing the project I mentioned that it recently changed its name in order to highlight that it isn’t just about developing more inclusive curricula anymore, it’s about the whole process of lecturers teaching and students learning in a way that can benefit the most amount of people without leaving anyone behind.
On presenting the posters that we had made a few weeks ago I felt slightly concerned about how they might view the “Island of Inclusive Curricula” and the “Island of Hellish Isolation” and decided to explain the rationale behind it rather than what it represented. In twenty minutes we had produced a physical representation of both the effects of current practice and some brief ideas as to what could be done (with the keys unlocking the box of potential). If we could come up with that using pipe cleaners and glitter in twenty minutes then it’s obvious that there is still much left to uncover.
Whilst there are the obvious groups out there and accompanying schemes already set up (Personal Tutors and Departmental DLO’s for example) it’s important to note that it makes the flawed assumption that everyone outside these groups (and to some extent those within it) are all the same. We don’t suggest that everyone needs to be handheld through a degree but neither should it be expected that every student who has a problem should identify themselves. Many students just wouldn’t be comfortable going up to a lecturer and saying “Can you change your presentation style because it doesn’t really work for me?”. Every student should start on a level playing field with the ability to gain a recognised degree.
We don’t want to strong-arm people into doing anything or make every lecturer, module or course taught at the University the same but by working with them we can make sure that the way that they teach is the best for students. There are many different ways that you can teach something and there might be an area where a slightly different method or style might be more appropriate or help the handful of students that might be failing. By providing guidance, support, resources and examples of good practice we can provide access to a huge pool of ideas from across the whole range of taught subjects.
Using an example from my own department I recently had a module that focussed on patent law. The way we approached this in Physics was to have a lecture about the process and law from someone from the patent office and then try and write a patent for a simple piece of technology. Then someone from a patent law firm attempted to pull apart our patent finding all the loopholes that could be exploited. There’s no reason why this couldn’t be adopted in some manner as an exercise in the Law department but without such interaction of ideas it might continue to be taught in a dry and boring way.
Where I ended my presentation was restating that we didn’t want to muscle in and change everything but were looking for departments to work with who could present possible concerns and together we could work to fix them.
Following questions it was clear that many were positive about the project but unsure as to how a relationship would work. Some suggested that the project audit departments or simply present them with a book of good ideas but Claire capably stated that it wasn’t simply a concrete thing, it’s a fluid method of helping out each other in whatever capacity that is needed or indeed wanted and so we ended on a positive note with what seemed to be several people scribbling down contact details!
Chris Ince, 3rd year student in Physics and Astronomy