Learning and Teaching
You are asked to rate your programme on the following three statements:
- Our andragogy encompasses a variety of teaching strategies, activities and methods to accommodate a range of learning preferences.
- Students are given access to teaching and learning delivery which is accessible and inclusive.
- Academic staff work with central services to implement individualised support mechanisms.
Accommodate a range of learning preferences
A central principle of inclusion is that practice is altered to take account of diversity within the student body. This is meant in the sense of equality and diversity characteristics but also in the sense that all of us prefer to learn in different ways and have different skills and attributes.
It is therefore essential that teaching is delivered to take into account a range of preferences and allows for flexibility of access for our students.
ILTAF statement: Our andragogy encompasses a variety of teaching strategies, activities and methods to accommodate a range of learning preferences.
Including a multi-sensory element to teaching is a well established approach for working with dyslexic students (Snowling, 2000). It originates from the notion that when we are learning to read and spell we use different sensory modalities e.g. when we first encounter a word we see it written down (visual), link the word to its pronunciation (auditory) and repeat it out loud (oral kinaesthetic) (Townend & Turner, 2000).
Such an approach is also linked to the idea that different learners have different learning preferences. Whilst recent debate has questioned the suggestion that we can identify different learning styles there is evidence that individuals prefer to learn in different ways.
Therefore, it is recommended that you utilise different methods of delivery, (video, discussion, practical elements) and that your delivery incorporates multi-sensory elements (images, sounds, colour, diagrams) as well as traditional approaches i.e. incorporating lectures and primarily textual elements.
Snowling, M. J. (2000) Dyslexia. 2nd ed. Oxford, Blackwell.
Townend, J. and Turner, M. (2000) Dyslexia in Practice – A Guide for Teachers. New York, Kluwer Academic/Plenum.
- Use a sans serif font, such as Arial, Verdana, Helvetica, Tahoma or Trebuchet, at a minimum size of 12 points.
- Make your materials available beforehand on Moodle so that students can prepare in advance.
- Use different ways of presenting information – videos, charts, discussions, lectures, seminars, online activities.
- Provide guidance (such as prioritisation) to reading lists so that the amount of reading they are required to do is reduced and/or can be more focussed.
- For handouts – use matt paper in a neutral or pastel colours; avoid glossy, shiny or laminated paper.
- Minimise the contrast between the print and background. Black print on a white background is particularly difficult to read because it has the highest contrast. A much better combination is dark blue print on a cream background.
- Expand abbreviations and explain jargon and abstract language.
- Don’t ask students to read out in class unless they have been given a thorough opportunity to prepare and are comfortable with this task.
- Justify the left hand margin only. Justifying both margins creates unequal gaps between words, making text more difficult to scan and therefore to read.
- Leave slides up long enough to allow all learners to process/read/finish writing their notes.
Accessible and inclusive learning and teaching delivery
This statement refers to a variety of practices which could range from changing the font on presentation slides to re-arranging the whole way in which you deliver a module.
Ideally most of this practice would have been considered before teaching is delivered but many of these adjustments can be made on an ongoing basis.
For example, do you ensure that the Moodle website which accompanies each module is up to date and provides learning resources which support the content of face-to-face sessions? Has feedback been obtained from the student body on the accessibility of these pages? Are reading lists up to date and materials easy to get hold of? Do you provide a long list of references or are references released which are relevant to the delivery of each weeks’ face-to-face session making it easier for disabled students (and therefore all your students) to navigate Moodle content?
ILTAF statement: Students are given access to teaching and learning delivery which is accessible and inclusive.
This element of the framework relates to an array of practice which can range from your personal delivery (speed of speech, what you say etc.) to the use of multi-media clips in lectures.
Personal delivery of content
There are a number of things you can do to assist disabled students to understand what you are saying such as making sure you face the students when you are talking or ensuring that you write down difficult terminology and references after you have said them.
Using accessible learning materials
It is recommended that you utilise a range of resources in your teaching to ensure you engage the different learning preferences of students but this brings with it various challenges. If you use a video clip from a website for instance a deaf student may not be able to hear it and would benefit from either a transcription of what is said or subtitles on the clip. If you are going to use a video clip please contact the Disability Advice Team so that they can transcribe information (please allow enough time for transcription – at least 3 weeks) or use video clips which are already subtitled. Many YouTube clips are now subtitled. If you view them there is a captioning icon on the bottom of the video player. If you produce them you should include captions through the video manager or YouTube can do this automatically. Please note that this service is not very accurate and you will then need to edit the auto-captions which are produced.
Why is this important?
Some groups of students may take longer to assimilate the information which is being relayed. Many dyslexic students for instance have slower phonological processing speeds. Deaf students may have difficulty assimilating auditory information because of limited access to language usage around them and the possibility that auditory memory is less effective as a cognitive learning strategy. Many d/Deaf and hearing impaired students will use lip speaking as a strategy to listen to what is being said. If you don’t face the students they will not be able to follow everything which is being discussed.
More and more universities are moving towards recording of lectures in large group teaching situations on an institutional basis. According to the THES (2015), 15 UK universities are thought to have some kind of institution wide recording system or related policy.
In terms of its effectiveness as a teaching strategy, the notion of recording lectures seems to divide the HE community. For example at Huddersfield University:
- Students seemed overwhelmingly in favour of a move towards recording lectures – 84% of 758 students who responded to their SU’s poll
- However, staff are concerned about attendance and 75% of teaching and learning staff felt that it would lead to a less spontaneous and more self-conscious learning experience
However, innovations such as MOOCs and improvements in apps available on handheld devices suggest that the general direction of flow is increasingly towards audio capture of lecture content. According to Professor Richard J Reece, Associate Vice-President at the University of Manchester:
“The almost ubiquitous nature of recording devices (dictaphones, mobile phones, etc.) means that, even in the absence of University-enabled lecture recording, teaching staff must assume that all group-based teaching activities are already being recorded.”
As mentioned in the overview of the framework, inclusive practice should accommodate a range of learning preferences and allow for differences between learners. Recording lectures allows different learners open access to teaching delivery so that they can learn at their own pace and it allows them to control how they access the material at a later date to suit their learning needs. Other universities which are moving towards recording of all large teaching sessions provide an indication of the range of benefits which such an approach facilitates:
- It provides a study-aid for review and revision;
- It helps accommodate different learning styles;
- To assist students who do not have English as their first language; and
- To assist students who have particular educational needs.
Manchester University (2016)
According to Bristol University, students are expecting:
- Flexible learning - anytime and anywhere access to learning materials, at the student's own pace;
- Multi-modal learning - providing learning materials in multiple formats to suit individual learning preferences;
- Deep learning - ability to evaluate and contextualise learning materials over time
- Innovations in pedagogy - for example the use of recorded material for viewing in advance of lectures to create space for more interaction within lectures;
- Accessibility - particularly useful for students with special educational needs or whose first language is not English;
- Practicality - ability to pause, repeat and/or revisit complex learning materials to increase understanding.
Staff are concerned that lecture recording might lead to a drop in attendance, or that it would lead to less spontaneous teaching and more self-conscious participation by students.
Currently, it is unlikely that all teaching sessions would be recorded because of various practical reason. For example, at Manchester University, where a lecture capture policy has been implemented, staff are given the opportunity to not record their session if there is an obvious reason why this would be impractical or detrimental to teaching delivery:
- Not all teaching styles are suitable for capture, e.g. where there is use of whiteboards, chalk boards etc. or if there is a high degree of student participation;
- a requirement for academic staff to change their preferred teaching style for the purpose of recording may be detrimental to the student experience, and is not encouraged;
- ethical issues, or the use of sensitive material may render the recording of some teaching and learning activities as being inappropriate.
Working with central services
Staff in central services will work with you and your students to provide additional support and resources to ensure that your practice is inclusive. Whilst inclusive teaching and learning is intended to remove barriers to accessing the curriculum it is likely that some students will still require additional support inside and outside the classroom. It is important to liaise with central staff to ensure that your students are fully supported.
Examples of additional support inside the lecture theatre might include the provision of a British Sign Language Interpreter or outside the classroom through support from a mentor or a specialist tutor.
ILTAF statement: Academic staff work with central services to facilitate individualised support mechanisms.
The ILTAF webpages are currently under development, we will be updating and improving the available information soon.