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Reflective Questions  

These reflective questions have been produced by Inclusive-Learning@York, working closely with student interns, to support University of York staff to explore, discuss and reflect on inclusive practices in their teaching, learning and assessment. This is not an audit, it is a set of questions designed to prompt reflection and critical engagement with different aspects of inclusive learning, teaching and assessment.

This resource is intended for use by all our teaching staff. It includes both materials to support programme and module planning, design and review, as well as materials to help individuals in reflecting on their own teaching practice and how learning is supported in departments. There are five sets of reflective questions, organised under five thematic areas, with links to guidance and further resources. The questions can be taken as a whole, or individual sections used as needed. 

Reflective questions PDF (PDF , 87kb)

Theme One: Inclusive Curriculum

Inclusive programme and module design

  1. When designing a programme/module, how do you take into account and anticipate the diverse backgrounds and lived experiences of your students and the needs of individual learners?
  2. To what extent does the curriculum reflect the diverse entry points and prior experience of current and prospective students? Are there opportunities for students to become familiar with key concepts and language, and are academic study skills embedded in core modules?
  3. Is the curriculum content relevant for all students? Is the content contextualised so that students can make links with prior learning and experience?
  4. How does the programme and module design process make provision for consultation with and feedback from students, working with students as partners? In what ways are students involved as partners in the development of new programmes, programme changes and new initiatives? How do you ensure a wide range of students are included in these processes? 

Inclusive curriculum content

  1. In what ways does the curriculum allow for discussion and understanding of the historical context and origins of the disciplinary field of study?
  2. Are there any perspectives, theories or intellectual traditions that are presented as universal or dominant by the curriculum? Are there any perspectives, theories or intellectual traditions that are presented as alternative, partial or even deviant by the curriculum? Are there ways in which the material could be re-organised to address this?
  3. To what extent are critical perspectives presented as integral to the module/programme or as ‘add ons’?
  4. Are there significant efforts to incorporate bibliography and scholars from marginalised positions and minority identities? To what extent does the programme/module reading lists include authors/sources from different backgrounds (eg regarding ethnicity, gender, disabilities, sexual orientation, nationality)? In what ways are critical analysis and discussion regarding the positions and identities of the authors/sources included in the curriculum promoted among students?
  5. In what way is consideration given to including a more diverse/global range of topics, examples or case studies in the curriculum? When using case studies, problem-based learning scenarios and examples, do these reflect a diverse range of experiences and perspectives? Has consideration been given to whether examples might perpetuate stereotypes or stigmatise certain groups?
  6. What opportunities are there for co-construction of curriculum content with students, including reading lists and case studies, reflecting their different perspectives and experiences?
  7. Have you considered how the content of the curriculum might potentially affect students from diverse backgrounds and with diverse lived experience? Are there aspects of the programme/module where it would be useful to consider the use of content/trigger warnings?

Inclusive assessment design

  1. When creating an assessment, are you taking into account the diversity of your student cohort?
  2. To what extent does the programme offer a range of assessment practices? 
  3. How do you ensure that the methods of assessment do not put any students at a disadvantage?
  4. Have you considered alternative assessment methods both within modules and across the whole programme that measure the module/programme learning outcomes to ensure that all students have the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and skills? Are students able to choose from a range of assessment methods?
  5. Does one type of assessment contribute to the majority of the overall grade? How do different students perform on this type of assessment relative to other modes of assessment?
  6. To what extent are students invited to co-construct the design of their assessments? Have you considered how this could contribute to the development of assessment literacy for the students?

Theme Two: Inclusive Learning and Teaching Approaches

Inclusive learning and teaching strategies

  1. How can you and other staff regularly connect with your students to find out about their diverse backgrounds, learning needs and preferences, and encourage the creation of an inclusive learning environment?
  2. How do your methods for delivering teaching support students to engage and participate in different ways?
  3. What use is made of technology to enhance inclusive learning? 
  4. How are students encouraged to draw on and relate content to their own experience?
  5. How do you balance individual, whole, small group and paired activities to ensure that students have a range of opportunities for participation and learning?
  6. To what extent is group work used to promote inclusion, for instance, mixing students from different backgrounds to support cultural exchange?  
  7. What opportunities are provided for students to support each other with their learning in an inclusive way?
  8. In what formats are students given the opportunity to ask questions or receive feedback on independent learning activities? 

Assessment support and preparation

  1. In what ways are students prepared and supported in the assessment process?
  2. How do you ensure that staff have an understanding of the diversity of assessment and feedback experiences that your students have?
  3. To what extent has the examination/assessment methodology (including the goals and learning outcomes of the assessment) been communicated in advance, so that all students understand what is expected? 
  4. To what extent do the assessment criteria clearly identify the requirements, level of detail, knowledge and skills expected of a high grade? Is this clear for group work and presentations too?
  5. How do you ensure that students have prior experience or practice with different types of assessment to give them an opportunity to prepare and develop the necessary skills?
  6. To what extent do you monitor and review assessment practices to ensure inclusive approaches? How do you support students to voice concerns/ask questions about programme/module assessment methods?
  7. How do you explain to the students what the feedback on their assessments is and how to use it? Is this feedback provided in different formats to ensure all students can make use of it? What opportunities are provided for students to act on feedback?

Theme Three: Accessibility of Learning, Teaching and Assessment

Accessibility of resources

  1. Are handouts, presentations and online course materials provided in an accessible format?
  2. Are teaching materials made available on the VLE in advance of teaching sessions?
  3. What steps have you taken to ensure closed captions are used on any video and or audio material?
  4. Where audio-visual resources are a core part of a course, to what extent are text-based alternatives available (captions, transcripts and summaries of the key points) to support learners with sensory impairments? 
  5. Have you considered ways to develop your own accessibility expertise? 
  6. Have you completed the University's digital accessibility tutorial?

Accessibility of teaching and learning spaces

  1. How do you support the participation of all students in interactive tasks/when using online environments?
  2. What steps do you take to ensure the physical surroundings of the learning environment are inclusive (eg levels of lighting, the distance between lecturer and students, acoustics, minimising potential distractions)?

Accessibility of assessments

  1. To what extent have you anticipated the needs of students with additional learning needs? Where reasonable adjustments need to be put in place, are they discussed, planned and implemented with the student(s) concerned? 
  2. To what extent can alternative forms of assessments be used or offered to all students while still meeting the learning outcomes? Where reasonable adjustments are put in place, could they be offered to all students?
  3. How are students provided with training and support so that they are able to make best use of software accessibility features and assistive technologies? Can assistive technologies (eg screen-readers, screen enhancement software) and alternative formats be made available to all students?
  4. What steps are taken to test alternative forms of assessments for accessibility? For assessments with graphic content, has this been appropriately transcribed to an accessible format?

Theme four: Academic Communities of Staff and Students

Learning and teaching support

  1. What are the support resources and processes in place in your department to support the wellbeing of students? 
  2. How is the support of student wellbeing considered as part of the curriculum design, eg in assessment design?
  3. What opportunities do your students have to engage in and benefit from peer support? What opportunities are there for students to engage in peer-assisted learning (PAL)?  Do you have mentoring programmes or buddying schemes in place in your department, could these be developed or can you signpost students to them? 
  4. What mechanisms do you have in place to signpost students to student support services?
  5. What mechanisms do you have in place to signpost students to academic skills guidance and support? 
  6. In what ways are you facilitating access to digital learning resources for students in the library, eg reading lists, ebook platforms, publisher accessible PDFs?

Theme five: Co-construction, Student Partners and Student Voice

Students as partners in programme and assessment design, curriculum content and module and programme evaluation

  1. What opportunities are there for students to work as partners in the co-construction of the curriculum, including programme and module objectives, curriculum content, reading lists and case studies? How do you ensure a wide range of students are included in these processes? 
  2. How are equality and inclusion issues considered as part of module evaluation processes? Is there a specific question in module evaluation forms that addresses equality and inclusion?
  3. How are equality and inclusion issues considered as part of programme review processes?