Approximately 10-15% of all students require some form of adjustment to teaching due to a disability. Making one-off changes to routines around teaching each time a reasonable adjustment is needed can be time-consuming, but changing habits and routines to anticipate these adjustments can lead to a better learning environment for all. By anticipating the reasonable adjustments that students are likely to need, such as providing teaching materials in advance, providing handouts and presentations in accessible formats, or giving access to lecture capture, all students can benefit and the number of one-off adjustments needed are reduced.
In the context of disability provision, inclusive teaching reduces the need for individual adjustments, because many of the barriers that disabled students may face have been anticipated and removed. It recognises that many of the adjustments made for disabled students could benefit many other students if made available to all.
Providing anticipatory adjustments for disabled students is just one aspect of an inclusive approach to teaching. Every student has their own preferences for learning, at different paces and using different methods. Inclusive teaching practice values the diversity and difference in individual learners, and harnesses this to improve the learning experience for every student. Inclusive teaching practices tend to give students greater choice and control over their learning, and make fewer assumptions about prior experiences or knowledge. The Centre for Teaching and Learning will launch a new inclusive teaching online course in Michaelmas term 2020.
The term 'inclusive teaching' is broad-ranging and encompasses various ideas and strategies. Many of the techniques that are widely recognised as good teaching practice are also inclusive.
A teacher using an inclusive approach might:
- make materials available to students in advance of teaching sessions, so they have time to read and prepare;
- encourage group work so students can learn from each other and encounter different perspectives and approaches;
- create a range of opportunities for students to contribute and demonstrate their learning;
- design reading lists that reflect a diversity of authors and contributors to the field so that students can learn from a variety of critical approaches;
- provide prioritised reading lists to help students manage their time and focus their reading;
- set aside time to clarify aims and expectations, so students know what they should expect to learn and work towards;
- take into account possible differences in students' prior knowledge when designing teaching and consider different ways to approach material based on this diversity.
- design teaching content and activities to align with the other lectures, classes or tutorials students are attending so they can build on knowledge and skills progressively;
- use tutorials to support students to develop their individual interests and strengths whilst also providing specific interventions to address individual weaknesses.
An inclusive approach encourages a sense of belonging in students: the learning environment takes account of their needs and recognises the diversity they bring as a strength.