Two blended-learning training programmes (one for teaching staff, one for administrative staff) will be developed in the course of the project. Each programme consists of a three-day face-to-face workshop and an e-learning component.
The programmes are set up to improve teaching and administrative staff’s diversity competence and to sensitize them towards the issues certain students groups are confronted with, recognizing a lacking sense of belonging as a reason for academic (under)performance, but mostly, enabling them to come up with strategies to cope with students’ various needs without “othering” them.
Dealing with their own unconscious bias and illuminating the crippling role stereotype threat plays in the progression of these students will be of central importance. Participants are encouraged to reflect on their own unconscious bias and to concentrate on inclusive teaching methods (without othering certain students by explicitly “supporting” them). The success of the training depends heavily on the ability to facilitate exchange and discussion between international colleagues in order to be able reflect on one’s own perspective but also – quite simply – to receive advice in how to deal with challenging situations regarding student diversity from other participants and listen to their experiences.
Although staff training is available in the majority of HEIs (in 67% of responding institutions) – usually on a voluntary basis – it seems to remain ineffective and not fit to overcome existing obstacles. This connects well with a large majority’s wish for dialogue and training (it was rated as the most popular method to overcome barriers) to raise the level of awareness and provide concrete tools and approaches to inclusion and diversity management issues.
Traditional forms of seminars are insufficient to meet the requirements of professional development for teaching staff. Traditional concepts mostly impart fresh knowledge. Yet, it requires additional input which stimulate self-reflection.
Reflective practice amongst peers enables knowledge exchange on dilemmas arising from professional experiences. Participants different backgrounds and disciplines may contribute to various good working solutions and thus draw out issues and opportunities to enhance professional development. It seems to be especially important to promote and create a supportive space amongst peers for “guided critical reflection on practice”. Ultimately, sharing good practice and peer learning helps to conceive activities that are fit for purpose and correspond to the actual needs of staff and students alike.
Across the participating institutions it will reveal differences and common ground in measuring, interpreting, and managing diversity and different student background. Participants will gain a multi-perspective view on inclusion and diversity issues in the study programme as well as in the study environment. This training programme can be easily adapted in scope and length. Thus, it can adapt to needs and background of participants and different focus.
- Teaching staff
The training aims at creating inclusive and flexible teaching and learning arrangements, learning environments as well as input on inclusive assessment. The input and measures will deal with student engagement/participation and student wellbeing.
- Administrative staff
Administrative staff often have a favourable starting position to get into contact with students. Experience shows that, students often feel more comfortable or relaxed to share their feelings, concerns and worries with admin. staff in library, administration office, international office, etc. Thus, this group is crucial to foster students feeling of belonging. The “why” and “how” is to be discussed during sessions which will strongly reflect own biases.