Mark Egan explains how he has embedded inclusive practice in his teaching, using his own observations and experiences to guide his adaptations to benefit learners.
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What are the ways in which you make your teaching more inclusive?
I use ‘spidergrams’ – mindmaps drawn on whiteboards in seminars, to help capture the essence of discussions that take place. Pictures are taken of the whiteboards so that learners have a visual reminder of what was discussed. The discussions are always linked back to the assignment.
Learners benefit from multiple modalities when learning. Dyslexics, especially, value the use of word clouds and mind maps so they can see concepts and connections represented as a big picture. Students who might otherwise be quiet or non-participative have more confidence in talking about their questions relative to the visual representation on the whiteboard, created during the seminar. Any use of multi-modal representations of information benefits all learners, so adaptations you might make actually add value to all learners.
I sometimes use the visualiser in a lecture theatre to draw out connections between ideas during lectures. Learners reviewing lecture capture can move between the lecture slides or the visualiser as they play back the capture. I also use the visualiser to annotate essay paragraphs to illustrate to students the good or bad points to help develop their writing skills.
Another adaptation in practice has come from observing the number of students waiting for a one-to-one appointment. I started getting them all involved in group discussions instead and this evolved into an ‘open surgery for students’ at the island of interaction. I felt students benefited from listening to what others were asking. Unlike the seminars which are more structured, the open surgery is led by students’ own questions, becoming a more socratic approach.
Democratising learning with a student steering group
Another example is how I get the students involved in the development of material for the seminars. Students are invited to join a ‘steering group’ at the beginning of a module and they meet every 2-3 weeks. I developed this way of working after an experience in previous years where I introduced a case study for a seminar, but it did not work as expected. Now, the steering group provides feedback on the case study activities prior to the seminar so it can be fine-tuned to work better.
After working this way for most of a term, the students were invited to design the last seminar, choosing the case study material for me to review. This provides a nice challenge for the students involved to stretch their abilities and it democratises learning. The learners are empowered to develop material for everyone’s benefit. With immediate feedback after lectures or seminars, I can be more responsive and adaptive in my teaching practice to accommodate various cohort’s learning needs.
Feedback using voice-to-text tools
I use Dragon Dictate to convert what I say into typed text as feedback for learners’ assignments. It gives my feedback a more detailed, personalised commentary that the learners appreciate and really engage with. I’d like to experiment with audio feedback, maybe using a visualiser to annotate an essay while recording my feedback.
This can be achieved with Panopto At-Desk recorder and a desktop visualiser.
Note that you can try out Google Voice Typing for similar functionality.
It is recommended practice that tutors design ways for students to engage with the feedback (Orsmond et al, 2013).
Bootcamp for writing
I run a writing bootcamp for students to help them develop the writing habit and overcome procrastination. I introduce students to the pomodoro technique where you divide your time into twenty-five minute blocks to focus on task and give yourself breaks in between. Internet access is disabled in the writing lab for the bootcamp to reduce the distraction factor and to separate them from the plethora of literature that can lead to lots of reading and no writing.
Students are expected to have completed their reading and are challenged to write two hundred words in blocks of twenty-five minutes and to get in the habit of getting things down without judging themselves and using a process of editing to fine-tune their writing. They learn that writing is a recursive and iterative process that develops over time. Over time, students learn to discipline themselves and apply the techniques learned in second year on their dissertations, using spidergrams and the bootcamp technique on themselves as they write longer pieces of work.
Qualitative Research – Using photo-elicitation
One method I teach my students doing qualitative research is to use photo stimuli to generate reflections and discussions from the people they interview.
Bringing reading lists to life
I provide students with the abstracts to the papers on the reading list so they are able to get a sense of what is covered. I actually run a session where I talk through the connections and perspectives of the different authors so students see where arguments support each other or how authors are almost ‘replying’ to each other through their research. This dramatisation of the references provides context and models for students what is expected of them in providing references.
Reference: Orsmond, P., Maw, S. J., Park, J. R., Gomez, S., & Crook, A. C. (2013). Moving feedback forward: theory to practice. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 38(2), 240–252. https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2011.625472
Last updated: Nov 2018