Skip to main content

When embedded into learning design, inclusivity improves the educational experience for all students. Research has shown that inclusive practice should include:

  • Student-centred approaches to collaborative learning
  • Opportunities to use and share prior learning and experience
  • Engaging with students’ prior knowledge and interests on an individual level
  • Cultivating a classroom culture that embraces diversity (of many kinds) while mitigating for power imbalances

Key amongst the work in this area is Harvard’s Universal Design of Learning, which encourages teachers to provide multiple means of:

  • Engagement
  • Representation
  • Expression

In their teaching and learning activities.

Best Practice Tips

Student-centred approaches to collaborative learning:

  • Design collaborative work that allows students to share different types of skill sets, subject knowledge and experiences. For example, a video presentation on Paradise Lost would require Biblical knowledge, skills in critical analysis and video production skills; a group of students would be more likely to be able to share their different strengths and learn from each other.
  • Offer choice in how to engage with collaborative work. This could include assessment topics that allow for choice of topic (e.g. choosing which company’s annual statement to analyse; choosing a text to critically address; etc.); presenting assessments in different formats (e.g. website, video, poster).

Opportunities to use and share prior learning and experience:

  • Encourage students to make connections between their own prior learning without presuming what this might be (e.g. some students may have advanced understanding of theoretical concepts while others may have seen these concepts in action without much knowledge of the theory).
  • Give students the space to test connections between prior learning and experience and the new things that they are learning (e.g. written reflections at the end of a lecture; classroom discussion; online discussion boards or reflective journals).

Cultivating a classroom culture that embraces diversity while mitigating for power imbalances

Further Reading

Harvard’s Universal Design for Learning

HEA Report on Inclusive Learning & Teaching