Patch 4: Inclusive Teaching to Support Student Learning.

The following guidance notes are designed to help create, promoteand maintain inclusivity for international students in higher education. An”international student” is defined as student who is studying abroad, which isnow almost one in five in the UK, there is a perceived negative connotation ofthe term which implicitly labels international students as different to UKstudents (Scudamore, 2013). However, being based outside of the UK, and withless than 10% of our students from the UK, we use the term inclusively.

Eventhough this international cultural diversity creates an extremely rich learningenvironment for undergraduate designers, it is not without its issues for bothstudents and teachers alike. Inclusivity and legislation.Under the UK Equality Act, 2010 it is unlawful for any educationprovider to discriminate between students. Inclusive learning and teachingseeks address this problem by creating a learning space which engages allstudents equally and fully, regardless of background (Equality Act, 2010;Thomas & May, 2010). By ascertaining the difficulties that internationalstudents face, problems can be addressed and solutions found by making”reasonable adjustments” (Thomas & May, 2010). Having a firm commitment toinclusive teaching and learning through curriculum content design and delivery,assessment and feedback will make all learning relevant to students entering aglobal society (Montgomery, 2008).  Challenges faced by international learners.International students will often face problems adjusting to a newsurroundings which can differ greatly from their home country.

Students with afirst language other than English may encounter difficulties in lectures andwith academic writing, they may also have problems adapting to different pedagogicalmethods such as a greater focus on independent learning. Assessment criteriaand grading systems can also differ from what international students are usedto, causing confusion over grades. Of course, there may also be wider issues,such as an international student feeling homesick or alienated socially whichwill also have an impact on their learning and overall student experience.

 Inclusive Learning Strategies.Get to know your students. This is an important way to increaseyour cultural awareness and understand any assumptions or preconceptions thatinternational students may have (Carroll, 2008). An obvious first step whichcan be easily overlooked is to introduce yourself and say a few words about thesubject you teach. Showing your enthusiasm for the subject will help motivateyour students and also make it easier for the students to do the same when youget them to introduce themselves.

Encourage social interaction early on toincrease participation and student retention (Scudamore, 2013), and point outthat all questions are welcome and valid from the outset (Smailes, Given &Gannon-Leary 2006). Address expectations and set ground rules from the start. Althoughsome of these points will have been addressed on Induction Day, they should bere-enforced in the context of your specific subject area. Internationalstudents will have come from a diverse range of backgrounds with different expectations.Therefore, it is important to be explicit and conduct an open discussion toclarify what you expect from them and what they can reasonably expect from you(Scudamore, 2013 and Carroll, 2008).

Take time to explain the module learningoutcomes and grading scales, assessment strategies and the difference between aformative assessment and a summative assessment. Breakdown the assignmentbriefs to clarify what is expected of them in terms of work submission, andexplain the marking criteria (Carroll, 2002). Discuss the rules of classroomconduct to avoid lecture interruptions and interventions (see the StudentHandbook for further clarification).  During lessons speak slowly and clearly, facing the students.

International students require more time to assimilate the nuanced, informalversion of English as well as any regional accents. Avoid colloquialisms andanalogies were possible. Providing a printed glossary of discipline-specificterms is a good way to avoid confusion.

Make sure to plan ahead and givestudents plenty of time to prepare for lessons (Scudamore, 2013). Equally,international students may take much longer to complete the same tasks and meetthe same learning outcomes as native UK students (Carroll, 2002). Regular feedback,formative assessments and micro deadlines can help them manage their time moreeffectively. Ensuring a varied mixture of lesson formats, presentation stylesand audio-visual learning resources will greatly increase inclusive learning(Scudamore, 2013). Group work can be problematic for international students.

Findingways to involve non-native English speakers in group based activitiesnecessitates a reasonable adjustment. As mixed-groups will often perform lessfavourably than monocultural groups, needing more time to adjust to culturaldifferences, grading should focus more on the process involved than the finaloutcomes. Designing group activities with cross-cultural elements and beingsympathetic to group dynamics by carefully selecting the group members will enhanceparticipation and cross-cultural inclusion (Gannon-Leary & Smailes, 2008; Carroll,2002). Always keep an open dialogue with your international students. Askthem for feedback and reflect on ways to further improve teaching effectivenessand inclusion.

Share your findings with other tutors, many of whom haveculturally diverse backgrounds themselves. By implementing an inclusiveapproach higher education can be made more accessible for all students. Byincreasing the relevancy of the curriculum student engagement will increasewith the benefit of higher attendance, higher student retention, as well asprogression and achievement (Thomas & May, 2010).


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