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The article below outlines some of the key considerations to bear in mind when designing a module or programme of study to ensure that all students have the maximum opportunity to be included and make progress. 

There are three key components to inclusive expectations: 

  1. Being clear and accurate in terms of the course design to ensure:  
    1. That the long, medium and short-term learning outcomes are achievable.
    2. That these outcomes are aligned with what the students will need to know or do in order to achieve and make progress. 
  2. Sharing this information with students in a clear, easily accessible format. 
  3. Being open about students expectations and needs, particularly with regards to reasonable adjustments you need to make. Be as flexible and accommodating as possible, and suggest alternatives if needed.  

Best Practice Tips

  • At the start of your module/programme, provide information which outlines the key information about what students should expect – what they should already know, what the learning outcomes of the particular module are, core texts you expect the students to read, criteria for success, etc. 
  • Make sure all of this is available in a format which is accessible to all learners. Electronic format such as rich text is ideal because it can be used by various adaptive technologies according to individual students’ needs. 
  • Make sure terminology and criteria used for evaluation of assessments is ‘unpacked’ and illustrated where possible with accessible examples. 
  • Try not to have preconceived ideas about learners’ prior experiences and be as explicit as you can from the outset about what they will be expected to do in order to succeed. 
  • Design PowerPoints and other teaching materials with different learning styles and needs in mind. Consider using cream and pastel backgrounds as opposed to white. Also, try to avoid text heavy slides and use more visual ways of communicating instead.   
  • Make your PowerPoints available in advance for students to better prepare for your lectures.  
  • Assess and monitor learners’ interactions during your classes. If any misconceptions are present, try to scaffold students’ learning by using open questions.  
  • Provide opportunities for students to receive formal and/or informal feedback on how well they are progressing towards the learning outcomes. This can be verbal or written from you, from their peers or through self-assessment via guided questions or evaluating anonymous work samples (with the necessary permissions). 
  • If you have a student who requires reasonable adjustments to be made, a good source of additional further advice and information (in addition to the student themselves) is Durham University Disability Support. 

Resources and Further Reading

ADSHE (2011) Guidance for good practice: marking practice for dyslexic students. Association of Dyslexia Specialists in Higher Education. 

Durham University Disability Support.

ECU (2015) Understanding the interaction of competence standards and reasonable adjustments.

EHRC (2010) Equality Act 2010 technical guidance for further and higher education. Equality and Human Rights Commission, London.

Healey, M. Jenkins, A and Leach, J. (2006) Issues in developing an inclusive curriculum: examples from geography, earth and environmental sciences. University of Gloucester, Gloucester.