Inclusive learning and teaching
Teaching inclusively is about enabling all students, regardless of their circumstances, to access and participate fully in the learning experience. Imperial College’s Learning and Teaching Strategy states:
“We will foster an inclusive and diverse community where different backgrounds and cultures of staff and students are cherished and celebrated, and their different cultural experiences and identities are embraced in order to better prepare all students for an increasingly diverse and complex future work environment. We will foster a culture that understands and embodies the values of diversity and inclusivity, ensuring this is reflected in campus life, in the curriculum, and in the application of knowledge to real-life problems in a global context.”
Inclusive teaching means that we:
- respect the diversity of students
- enable all students to participate in learning
- ensure different students’ learning needs and preferences are taken into account
- strive to remove barriers that prevent students from learning
Inclusive teaching also means that we do not discriminate against any student, either directly or indirectly. This also means that we need to be aware of unconscious bias. Unconscious bias affects all of us. It describes the associations and judgements that we make unconsciously.
This short video from the Royal Society explains unconscious bias:
It is important that we avoid making judgements or decisions during our teaching based on our unconscious bias. We can mitigate against this by:
- being aware that we are all affected by unconscious bias;
- deliberately slow down decision making;
- reconsider reasons for decisions;
- consider and question cultural stereotypes in interactions with students and in learning materials;
- monitor unconscious bias in others.
- Dr Pete Jones, who delivered Imperial's 2016 Diversity Lecture, has a series of short videos about unconscious bias on his website.
- The Google re:Work team has produced a comprehensive online guide about unconscious bias.
Why is inclusive learning and teaching important to us?
- It’s a social and an ethical responsibility that will have a positive impact on the way the Imperial community works together
- It’s central to Imperial’s Learning and Teaching Strategy, launched in June 2017.
- Students come from over 131 different countries to study at Imperial so it’s a fantastic opportunity to learn from different global perspectives.
- Students need to feel that they can bring their ‘whole selves’ to College, and that their differences enrich our community. They should feel that they are valued, equal, and able to participate and contribute fully to the social, cultural, and academic life of both the College and their disciplines. These values, when fully embodied, bring out the best in everyone.
Some tips to make your teaching more inclusive
Teaching inclusively isn’t necessarily about adapting your practices to support particular groups of students. As you will see from the examples below, inclusive teaching practices usually help all students, regardless of whether there is a perceived barrier, such as disability, culture, language, etc.
- Try to make course materials available in advance
- Ensure course materials are visually clear
- Avoid cultural references, idiomatic language and jokes which may not be understood by all students
- Use a variety of methods to give instructions during class – verbally, visually
- Repeat key messages several times during the session
- Engage students in a dialogue about their needs; get feedback from students
- Avoid assumptions and generalisations; for example, just because you have met one student with Asperger’s, you should not assume that all other students with this condition will have the same needs
- Teaching inclusively is an ongoing process of reflection and reviewing your practice
The EDU also has a list of suggested strategies to use to help students learn during your sessions.
For further information: