Inclusive Teaching and Learning

Course: Introductory Project Management

Introduction

This infographic will look at 3 different learner needs and discuss how teaching can be adjusted to accommodate these needs within an Introductory Project Management course for adult learners. The Education and Training foundation professional guidelines (2016) outline that a teacher needs to be flexible and creative to select and adapt strategies which enable all students to experience quality learning.

Gravells (2009) teaching and learning cycle show that respecting and embracing classroom diversities within the lesson planning will assist the enablement of participation, remove barriers by anticipating learning needs and preferences.

The Equality Act (2010) dictate that no matter what educational, cultural or social background, physical or sensory impairment and mental well-being needs, every individual has the same right to achieve as the rest of the population. Teachers are legally bound to diversify their teaching to accommodate the diverse needs of their learners.

Inclusive teaching strategies can vary greatly from the way a teacher presents themselves visually (e.g. eye contact) and verbally (e.g. asking open questions) to a class through to the types of activity they prepare within their lessons (Gravells, 2012).

Helene

An inclusive approach to engage Helene: Accessibility Planning and Provision

The primary barrier to Helene's learning is physically being unable to participate in sessions.


Making the venue accessible to Helene is vital. Helene is a very independent person and should be able to access the physical learning environment without difficulty. Arrangements prior to the course need to be made to ensure the classroom has access via a lift or is on the ground floor. Parking needs to be available onsite access into the building entrance should not be via a flight of stairs. Within the classroom there should be adequate clear space between tables for a wheelchair to navigate around the room. Resources that will be needed by learners throughout the lesson should be readily available.

At no point should Helene feel that her wheelchair is limiting her involvement in the lesson.


If this inclusive approach to course design is not thoroughly considered and there are elements of the lesson that Helene cannot access, then there is instantly distance created between her and the teacher. Helene will become demotivated as she will feel at a disadvantage. Demotivation will result in Helene either discontinuing with the course or not achieving her learning outcomes as she is unable to participate fully in the lessons and misses out on teaching and subsequent learning.

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Paula

An inclusive teaching and learning strategy to engage Paula: Individual Learning Plan (ILP)

The primary barrier to Paula's learning is her anxiety and low self-confidence.


Appreciation that enrolling on a course with an unknown group of peers is a very daunting prospect for Paula is very important. Communication with Paula prior to the course commencing will lessen her fears and give the teacher valuable information of Paula's main worries and fears and what she wants to get from the course. ILPs are created when a teacher discusses with each learner what their key aims and objectives are and together set milestones of how these will be achieved. Using Paula's ILP, the teacher to plan and design the course activities which will help Paula to feel at ease and be able to see her progress throughout the lesson. This positive reinforcement that Paula is doing well and achieving goals will intrinsically motivate her.


For Paula there will be a lot of wider skills that participation in this course will achieve. It is the teacher's responsibility to provide a positive experience for Paula and continually monitor and review her ILP to ensure Paula is constantly achieving and her intrinsic motivation gradually builds. If Paula's ILP isn't SMART and she doesn't achieve her goals she will very quickly become disengaged and demotivated. As with Helene, demotivation and disengagement may result in Paula discontinuing with the course or becoming withdrawn within the lessons and not achieving the learning as she won't be participating in activities.

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Will

An inclusive assessment method to engage Will: Presentation

The primary barrier to Will's learning is his difficulty reading due to his dyslexia.


Assessments are scary for Will. He is very confident with public speaking and is able to prepare for these occasions excellently. Designing an assessment where the learner can do a presentation would suit Will's individual learning style and allow him to demonstrate his knowledge verbally and answer questions posed by the teacher.


Knowing the format of assessments at the start of the course will build Will's confidence that he will not fall on the last hurdle. Creating an assessment of this type will not diminish the preparation and learning that Will needs to apply to successfully pass the assessment. Using pure read/write format assessments will demotivate Will and will have a negative effect that will taint Will's engagement throughout the course possibly even resulting in withdrawal from the course altogether.

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Comparison

All three of the above teaching and learning strategies and adaptations take planning a preparation to be delivered well.

Whilst some strategies will be universally inclusive others may be positive for the learner it is targeted towards however, one strategy may not suit another learners needs in a classroom environment:

  • Ensuring a classroom is hazard free and accessible is a universally inclusive strategy which will be beneficial to all learners lowering the chances of injury.
  • The assessment that may suit Will's publically confident style, may not suit Paula's shy nature. It may require the teacher to be creative in designing the way the presentation can be completed (e.g. via podcast of video rather than peer assessed). Presenting skills are important to everyone involved in projects so this format of assessment will be useful to all learners on the course.
  • Spending time more with Paula, praising and re-evaluating her ILP may dominate the lesson and other learners such as Will and Helene may not get sufficient support or teaching to support them. Teaching the class the skills of reflective self assessment and setting aside a time each lesson to review previous learning and amending/updating ILPs independently will widen all learners skills. Paula will still get motivation and see her progress and feedback can still be given without 1:1 support taking over the lesson. Within project management self-reflection and re-evaluation is crucial to projects remaining current and up to date and will be useful to all learners as well as the teacher. A teacher can use the ILPs to tailor subsequent lessons.

Conclusion

Within every learning environment there will be a diverse group of learning needs who will respond differently to different methods and resources of teaching.

Identifying needs prior to the course starting is key to selecting and planning appropriate strategies and resources to be utilised within the course. Creating a safe learning environment and building a rapport with learners will give a strong basis for initial learner engagement.

A teacher's role is not to deliver multiple lessons in a session, it is to diversify the teaching so that all learning needs are catered for and each learner in the group can take learning away from the lesson. Using a variety of didactic and student led discovery activities will engage all types of learners.

Engagement is the first step to motivating learners. Understanding why learners want to achieve their aims and objectives through pre course consultation, will give the teacher an insight to whether it is intrinsic or extrinsic factors that are a learners main motivation.

If the same lesson is run over and over again with no differentiation, although the topic content might be outstanding, if the learners are not gaining the conceptual understanding due to the delivery of the information, then the teacher is not enabling an equitable learning experience. Using the knowledge gained about individuals and their motivations and learning needs during pre course consultation this differentiation will have the best chances of all learner being able to successfully complete the course.

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