At Surrey, our student population is as diverse as ever. And so naturally, the way we each learn can be incredibly different.
Inclusive education ensures that learning, teaching and assessments allows all students to fulfil their potential.
What do we mean by inclusive education?
Every student, regardless of background, has the right to feel respected and included.
Our inclusive teaching ethos benefits all students because it values everyone's individual strengths and contributions. It makes students' learning experiences richer – differing views and experiences are a good thing in a learning environment as they lead to a more critical understanding of a subject.
Inclusive teaching also challenges our teaching staff to rethink what and how they teach and widen the materials used on any subject.
At Surrey, our approach to inclusive teaching focuses on:
- Ensuring a range of perspectives feature in our curriculum
- Inclusive teaching practices
- Inclusive teaching with technology
- Ensuring our assessment and feedback are inclusive
Historically, university curriculums in the UK have reflected a Western-dominated view of the world.
By ‘decolonising’ the curriculum, this ensures that one narrative does not dominate our curriculum. Instead, a diversity of perspectives and experiences are represented.
What are we doing?
We're engaging with a more diverse student body and introducing all our students to the conversation around inclusivity.
Student-staff partnerships around the University have been set up to look at our curriculum. This creates an environment for active listening and elevating the stories not being told in our teaching design.
This approach enables our teaching staff to view their resources and how they teach, learn and research through a critical lens. Rather than shaping learning for the majority, it accepts that education must remain adaptable to ensure that learning is inclusive.
By implementing inclusive teaching practices, we can create learning environments where all students feel they belong. For teaching to be inclusive, teaching practices must be carefully aligned with the needs of every student.
What we're doing
We consider how we communicate respectfully with each other – in the classroom and beyond.
The language we use and how we speak are valuable tools to help us include everyone as well as to feel included ourselves.
Being language-aware enables our teaching staff understand the possible challenges that language presents to learning. These challenges might arise because a student is learning a subject in a different language to the one they grew up with, or it may be the first time a student has encountered certain vocabulary or structures.
Evidence suggests that using technology use in education can help address stress, anxiety and isolation, and positively impact wellbeing (Jisc 2021).
What we're doing
The technologies we use support accessibility and inclusion. Assistive technology plays an important role in making classrooms more inclusive. Technology can help students overcome unique challenges and achieve better learning outcomes.
Examples of some of the technology we use at Surrey:
- SurreyLearn (text editor)
- Video calling
- Polling platforms
- Content creation tools
Educational technologies can:
- Enable different ways of teaching and assessing, supporting a variety of needs and modes of expression
- Support a flexible and responsive curriculum
- Offer customisation options, such as assistive technology and collaborative tools
- Contribute directly to digital confidence, independence, employability, and efficiency
- Build digital skills and knowledge and have a positive impact on wellbeing
- Allow us to connect and maintain contact during difficult times.
Assessments help measure our understanding of a chosen course.
Inclusive assessment provides everyone with an opportunity to demonstrate what they’ve learnt. Assessments that are inclusive by design acknowledge our students' diversity and eliminate any barriers to success.
What we're doing
To provide all of our students with an equal opportunity to demonstrate their learning, we're encouraging students and teachers to discuss assessment types. This approach allows staff and students to co-create ways to design assessment support and feedback.
All students benefit from a clear understanding of their work's strengths and weaknesses and need to be able to identify how to improve their performance in future assignments. We're ensuring our language is clear and precise so that feedback is understood by all.
Our inclusive assignment and feedback strategies:
- Offer a variety of opportunities to demonstrate student learning (includes in-class and out-of-class assignments, independent and group work, and draws from multiple sources)
- Provide performance-improving feedback
- Use a clear scoring guide to make assignments transparent and highlight what a successful assignment should look like.