Module & Programme Design

This inclusive teaching guide is aligned to Baseline Standard 1 and the  Professional Standards Framework A1 . It provides general advice on taking an inclusive approach to module and programme design.

Ensure programme and module learning outcomes can be achieved by a diverse group

  • Check that your learning outcomes don’t inadvertently exclude students for reasons that aren’t strictly necessary or related to the programme or disciplinary area. For example, if you require students to demonstrate specific skills in literacy, social aptitude, communication or manual dexterity, some of your learners may be at a disadvantage. It may be possible to design out these requirements, or make individual adjustments for some learners. However, if you feel they should apply to all students due to their centrality to the course, they could be considered competency standards, as defined by the 2010 Equality Act. Visit the Advance HE website for more information.
  • We have a duty under the Equality Act 2010 to ensure all practices are non-discriminatory. Further guidance on different types of discrimination can be found by visiting the University of Leeds Equality and Inclusion Training resources. If learning outcomes are likely to exclude anyone, (e.g. acquiring a certain physical skill), you must ensure the barrier is genuine.1

Write learning outcomes clearly

  • Your cohort may include dyslexic students or students who speak English as an additional language; write to communicate with your whole group, using Plain English.
  • If your students can easily understand the learning outcomes and they are written in a way they can relate to, they are more likely to take responsibility for their learning.

Specify learning outcomes in all course materials

  • Course materials should be available to prospective as well as current students in order to help them make informed choices about the suitability of the course for them, particularly if there are genuine competence standards which may pose specific challenges.

Stagger deadlines

  • Ensure your deadlines are not tightly bunched at particular times of year.
  • Your students’ personal circumstances and the way they process information may affect their time management and the additional impact of stress when deadlines are too tight. Some students find it difficult to work on multiple activities concurrently. Staggered deadlines reduce the need for extension requests.
  • Remind your students of upcoming deadlines throughout the programme. Make use of tools in Minerva to help you automate this. Visual timelines and module maps can also help.

Offer different assessment options

  • Offer your students a variety of ways to demonstrate their achievement of the learning outcomes.
  • This will save you time as it reduces the need to design alternative assessments as a one off reasonable adjustment for your disabled students.3 Allowing all your students a choice will enable them to choose options that suit their skills and approach to learning.

Provide an overview

  • Clearly set out the overview of your course content from the outset so your students know what to expect. This should also include creating a Module Accessibility Statement in Minerva.
  • Linking knowledge helps your students to embed their learning. Some of your students will benefit greatly from having a visual, linear representation of how the content fits together. This also helps them organise their revision.

Be flexible

  • Anticipate that some students’ circumstances may occasionally impact on their attendance, and plan accordingly. This could be due to a medical condition or caring responsibilities, for example. It is not a reflection on your teaching!  Ensure your students understand how to access teaching materials and recordings from sessions they have missed.
  • Consider ways that students who are not physically present could still engage with the teaching and the content either synchronously or asynchronously. See the Digital Practice website for more advice about tools and approaches for doing this.

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Acknowledgements

References

  1. Trinity College Dubin (2016) Learning outcomes – course design – guidelines for good teaching, assessment & supervision –Trinity Inclusive Curriculum: Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin, Ireland. Available at: https://www.tcd.ie/CAPSL/TIC/guidelines/design/outcomes/index.php (Accessed: 22 April 2016).
  2. Race, P. (2014) The lecturer’s Toolkit: A practical guide to assessment, learning and teaching. United Kingdom: Routledge
  3. Hockings, C (2010) Inclusive learning and teaching in higher education: a synthesis of research https://www.advance-he.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/inclusive-learning-and-teaching-higher-education-synthesis-research (Accessed: 1 Sept 2022)