Contemporary Approaches to University Teaching is a free massive open online course (MOOC) designed for new teachers, those who wish to enhance student learning or teaching practice and emerging leaders in higher education.

You can enrol now.

In this series of posts, I am sharing brief lessons from each of the modules in the MOOC. There are 24 modules in total and 4 possible pathways through the MOOC.

Teaching today’s diverse learners is Module 3. It is part of the ‘New to teaching’ pathway through the course.

Created by Sarah O’Shea (Curtin University) and Sally Patfield (University of Newcastle), the module challenges you to ensure that learning experiences are inclusive and equitable for all learners.

Concepts covered include: diversity, cultural safety, equity, inclusion, equality and universal design for learning.

The module asks participants to reflect on the following questions:

  • What are your own experiences with diversity?
  • What do you understand by ‘student diversity’?
  • How has diversity been part of who you are/how you define yourself?
  • How has diversity been part of who you are/how you define yourself as an educator?
  • How do you think experiences of diversity might influence the learning experiences of your students?
  • How do you think your own experiences of diversity might affect your interaction with your students and/or the way you teach them?
  • In thinking of ‘diversity’, to what extent do you also think of ‘inclusion’?

The module is underpinned by extensive research from the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE), an Australian policy, practice and research centre that provides resources and information designed to improve higher education participation and success for people from diverse backgrounds. The NCSEHE has funded a vast range of research which is freely available online: NSCEHE research database

How can you use NSCEHE research to find out more about the diversity of the students you are teaching? Try the interactive equity data mapping site! This tool enables users to compare data on access, participation, attrition, success and attainment across Australian universities.

Inclusive teaching does not mean that the academic needs to be an expert on every religion, illness, cultural group etc., but it should include a willingness to ask students, engage in discussion and make appropriate changes, and be prepared to understand and seek out information/resources

Teresa De Fazio (2015) Inclusive teaching practices, p 2.

The module invites you to look closely at your own institution, your own teaching and the needs of your students. It includes a range of checklists and guides to support inclusive teaching practice. For example, the collection of resources from the Effective teaching and support of students from low socioeconomic status backgrounds project.

The key advice for teachers:

  1. Know and respect your students
  2. Offer your students flexibility, variety and choice
  3. Make expectations clear, using accessible language
  4. Scaffold your students’ learning
  5. Be available and approachable to guide student learning
  6. Be a reflective practitioner.

Need help developing your knowledge, skills and capabilities to follow this advice?

Enrol in Contemporary Approaches to University Teaching!

Previous posts in this MOOC series:


Banner image: Naassom Azevedo on Unsplash

Posted by Agnes Bosanquet

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