Curriculum audit of module

In terms of the ‘overt’ curriculum, it would be useful to undertake an audit of the content and resources in one of your modules. Consider to what extent the selected content and resources may be privileging or disadvantaging certain students along the various dimensions of difference among students considered earlier, and think about what adaptations you could make.

Ask yourself:

  1. Who is represented in the curriculum? Who is absent?
  2. In what ways are people/groups represented?
  3. What topics are included? Excluded? What ‘slant’/arguments are presented? Left out?
  4. Are multiple views represented?
  5. Where relevant, in what way(s) are the experiences of different groups of people represented? How were the specific resources/materials selected? Who is represented and not represented among the authors of readings, for example? Representing what and whose perspectives? Can the content be adapted to make it ‘speak to’ more students?

Remember that we are not talking about ‘watering down’ content to make it less demanding; instead we are considering what we might do to the presentation of the content, to make it more inclusive, while maintaining the appropriate intellectual standard. What can you do to better link to and include the interests and experiences of your diverse student group? (see Crosling et al., 2008).

The design (in terms of the accessibility) of resources and course materials – for example, handouts, slides, notes, etc. – is also vitally important in inclusive teaching. Consider the format of resources; can you design some that are not solely text-based? For students with certain disabilities or learning difficulties, and for some students for whom their first language is other than English, over-reliance on text-type materials can be challenging. Could you audio- or video-record your lectures and make them available to students on your institution’s VLE? Where text-based materials are created, use sans-serif fonts (e.g. Arial), as serif fonts cause difficulty for students with dyslexia. Making your lecture ‘notes’/slides available to all students, especially in advance of the session, is recommended, so they can bring them in hard copy to the session and add their own notes. The provision of lecture notes is a ‘burning issue’ (Shevlin et al., 2004a: 26) and an essential support for many students with a disability, but also other students (see Fuller et al., 2009). Trinity College Dublin in Ireland has developed ‘Accessible Information’ guidelines, as part of their Inclusive Curriculum Project. The guidelines are available at tcd.ie/CAPSL/TIC/accessible-info/ and provide important information and support for academics in designing and formatting documents in WORD and pdf, PowerPoint presentations, webpages, and even writing emails.