Two blended-learning training programmes (one for teaching staff and one for administrative staff) will be developed during 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 unconscious bias and concentrate on inclusive teaching methods (without excluding certain students by explicitly “supporting” them). The success of the training depends heavily on the ability to facilitate exchange and discussion between international colleagues to be able to 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 voluntarily – 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 teaching staff’s professional development requirements. Traditional concepts mostly impart fresh knowledge. Yet, it requires additional input, which stimulates 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, thus drawing out issues and opportunities to enhance professional development. Promoting and creating a supportive space amongst peers for “guided critical reflection on practice” seems to be especially important. Ultimately, sharing good practice and peer learning helps conceive activities that are fit for purpose and correspond to the actual needs of staff and students.
Across the participating institutions, it will reveal differences and common ground in measuring, interpreting, and managing diversity and different student backgrounds. Participants will gain a multi-perspective view on inclusion and diversity issues in the study programme and the study environment. This training programme can be easily adapted in scope and length. Thus, it can adapt to the needs and backgrounds of participants and different focuses.
- Teaching Staff
The training aims to create inclusive and flexible teaching and learning arrangements, learning environments, and 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 contact students. Experience shows that students often feel more comfortable or relaxed sharing their feelings, concerns and worries with the admin: staff in the library, administration office, international office, etc. Thus, this group is crucial to fostering students feeling of belonging. The “why” and “how” is to be discussed during sessions which will strongly reflect own biases.