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The Inclusive Curriculum: Addressing Inequalities and Disadvantage in HE

1 January 2020 - 1 December 2021

PI/s in Exeter: Dr Lauren Stentiford

CI/s in Exeter: Dr George Koutsouris

Research partners:

Sponsor(s): Small Grants Scheme

About the research

One way in which social inequalities can manifest and perpetuate in higher education (HE) is through teaching and learning practices. Research suggests that HE curricula can be unintentionally ‘biased’, with non-traditional and minority groups often under-represented, stereotyped or marginalized through unhelpful pedagogic practices. This can have a negative impact on students’ sense of belonging, retention and achievement. This project aims to address this issue by critically exploring the concept of the ‘inclusive curriculum’ and considering its utility as an approach to address and reduce social inequalities at the University of Exeter.

This project will form two strands:

1. The research team will undertake a systematic literature review to locate and synthesize research evidence pertaining to the inclusive curriculum (IC) in HE. The aim is to better understand the theoretical work underpinning how researchers conceptualize IC, and recommended strategies for best-practice. These insights will inform the creation of discussion materials to be used in a series of academic staff workshops.

2. We will work with student co-researchers to develop materials for the staff workshops, who will co-run the workshops with the academic team. These interactive online sessions will be targeted at staff in different roles and with differing levels of experience (e.g. tutors, lecturers, senior lecturers, professors). Staff will be encouraged to critically reflect on their pedagogic practice and devise possible strategies for implementing IC principles in their future practice. We hope that the project will enhance knowledge and understanding of the research base on the IC in HE and staff perceptions and experiences of curricular design at Exeter – including strengths and weaknesses in current provision.

Such knowledge will help to support the development of more effective, locally-tailored, and sustainable inclusive pedagogic practices.