Developing an Inclusive Culture inHigher Education: Policy, Practice, Participation and Change Victoria L. O’Donnell1, Jane Tobbell2, Chris Bradshaw1 & Elizabeth Richmond1 1Universityof the West of Scotland, UK 2University of Huddersfield, UK
Inclusion in Higher Education• Legislative drivers and protected characteristics within UK law: equality and diversity• The UK Higher Education Academy defines an inclusive culture as – one which enables all students to develop academically, professionally and personally to fulfill their potential• University of the West of Scotland Vision – For UWS to have a transformational influence on the economic, social and cultural development of the West of Scotland and beyond, by producing relevant, high quality, inclusive higher education and innovative and useful research.
Approaches to inclusive practice (1) Contingent Alternative Inclusive approach approach approach Students Arrangements Flexible assimilate into are made within anticipatory the existing the curriculum arrangements system for particular are made within individuals the curriculum for everyoneJ. Waterfield & B. West (2006). Inclusive assessment in Higher Education: A resource for change. Plymouth: University of Plymouth
Approaches to inclusive practice (2) In-reach Out-reach Flexibility in programs programs program Focus on Partnerships provision attracting with external Systemic and students to the organisations structural re- institution organisation to allow full participation by all Osborne, M. (2003). Policy and practice in widening participation: A six countrycomparative study of access as flexibility. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 22(1), 43-58
Research background• UK HEA Change Programme: 16 UK HEIs• University of the West of Scotland project aims: to explore – the nature of inclusive L&T practices – the ways in which policy/strategy changes in inclusivity construct inclusive practices within the community – factors which prevent or enable participation in such practices
Socio-cultural theory and higher education practice• Communities of • Ecological theory Practice (Wenger, 1998) (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; – Valued practices 2005) – Participation – Change – Identity
The data• Qualitative approach• Methods – Document analysis – Self-evaluation by senior managers – Semi structured interviews with staff and students• Analysis – Inductive, grounded theory – Emergent themes – Focused problem approach
Acceptance and resistance• Its about maybe just making sure you’ve got a bit of variety in your teaching and what you’re doing, so that there is, you know, hopefully, something that everyone can take from it.• I’ve not actually changed anything completely, we often are governed by what’s in the module descriptor. But I think that for some students they could probably do with differing assessments. But then you might end up designing a whole load of assessments that are probably not comparable. I’m not sure if any institution would do that, or if it’s practical.
• I always sort of think of [inclusion] meaning assisting people to get the most out of their education so that they can get, so things like learning support, and things like using scribes, doing what we can as academics to make sure that people have the material to go on. It’s not so much about creating an even playing field, but creating more equality.• …I think I’ve had in total about 15 to 20 additional needs things, and I have to be absolutely honest and say that I tend not even to open them any more…
• I think sometimes my accent is so broad that there was foreign students and particularly students who don’t have English as their first language. I occasionally find myself worrying a little bit about that. That they won’t understand the accent. And certainly lectures probably for students who are, English isn’t their first language, lectures probably aren’t the best of all the potential learning tools.• I always sneak around it by saying, “We’re doing global society in trimester 2”, but in actuality, global society means European, North American, and the concept of global things…
Academic identity• We’re academics… we know how to recognise someone who’s struggling, but we don’t have the teaching skills to assist someone who is struggling.• …learning to write an essay is as much a part of a, to me, I know I’m very old-fashioned, but it is an academic rite of passage.• So there is this over-reliance on the kind of academic who is at the coal-face in a sense…and they’ll direct you to x, y and z, education guidance or whatever…
Perceived barriers to inclusive practice• I think people are working really hard, and you just wonder, how much more can we ask of them?• It’s like, you know, this is changing, that’s the policy now, how do you know about the policy? Well, you know, we’ve got 156 of them and they’ve been wheeled round through the internet and we’ve to go and look at it.• …nine hours a week of contact and the rest of the time you’re expected to engage with the material independently, at home…I’m not sure that we do them any favours, we don’t encourage participation outside of those nine hours…
Conclusions• Consistent with other areas of higher education, practice does not always reflect rhetoric (O’Donnell et al., 2009)• Resistance to shifts in practice seems firmly rooted in academic identity• The role of macro-level institutional factors lies in real or imagined constraints on academic practices, and individuals’ negotiations with these factors
Next steps• Ongoing analysis of staff and student data• Exploration of other themes