Research Output

Self-reflection as a tool for inclusive learning and teaching

  Over the past twenty years Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have become transformative spaces as the student population has expanded. National and institutional policies have brought issues of widening access and internationalisation to the forefront, leading to an increasingly diverse student population. As a result, teaching spaces have also required transformation. A key factor in successful transformation is the development of reflective practitioners, who can systematically evaluate their teaching experiences, and use that evaluation to change their future practice (Ashwin et al, 2015).
This paper explores the impact of a small scale project in collaboration with the Higher Education Academy (HEA) which focuses on embedding equality and diversity in the curriculum. The project under discussion chose to focus on curriculum design, and to develop reflective practitioners in key curriculum leadership roles, where they have the opportunity to influence and develop others. The project was influenced by the U.S based ‘Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity’ (SEED) programme, which aims to “promote change through self-reflection and interpersonal dialogue”, training facilitators who can drive forward personal, institutional and societal change in relation to equality and diversity competence (https://nationalseedproject.org, N.D).
Successful reflection requires dialogue: the articulation of our ideas to others is an essential element of critical thinking, therefore the process of reflection cannot occur in the absence of criticality (Brockbank and McGill, 2007). Based on the SEED model, a series of six reflective conversations was developed, adapted to address issues of specific relevance to the institution. Fook (2007) suggests that reflection begins with the discovery and unsettling of assumptions, and the conversations were designed to challenge existing assumptions around diversity and inclusion, encouraging recognition and evaluation of the participants’ own practice.
Participants were invited from both academic and professional services departments, as well as student representatives. The conversational sessions were designed to be intimate with between 8-12 people in attendance. The conversational topics were chosen through a a preliminary study conducted by the researchers to identify what the key issues around equality and diversity were in the context of the specific institution. This involved a desk-based review of programme materials and interviews with students and staff, the findings of which informed the topics discussed during the reflective conversation sessions.
The conversations were then evaluated through the use of pre- and post-event questionnaires, and also through participant observation. This data was analysed thematically, in order to evaluate the impact on the participants of their self-reflection, and its implications for inclusive practice. Overall, the sessions have been received positively and plans for the dissemination of the reflective conversations across the university are now taking place with the aim of embedding the sessions in staff personal development planning. It is anticipated that the development of academic and professional staff as reflective practitioners will:
• Identify and disseminate areas of good practice.
• Increase awareness of equality and diversity issues and foster further collaborative learning between the academic and student community.
• Act as a springboard for further inclusive practices within the student experience.
• Provide skills and tools that can be used in the development, approval and re-approval of curriculum.
• Create an inclusive teaching and learning space which enables students to achieve their full potential.

  • Type:

    Conference Paper (unpublished)

  • Date:

    04 July 2017

  • Publication Status:

    Unpublished

  • Library of Congress:

    LB2300 Higher Education

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    378 Higher education

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded

Citation

McLatchie, J. & Campbell, L. A. (2017, July). Self-reflection as a tool for inclusive learning and teaching. Paper presented at SCUTREA Adult Education for Inclusion and Diversity, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh

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