Sunday, 1 December 2013

Reflect on factors associated with diversity in your context

Activity Four- Module Two


Reflect on factors associated with diversity in your context

I found the slideshow on Universal Design very thought provoking. Ensuring inclusiveness for all students is important. Perhaps we need to change the way we think....instead of saying ‘this won’t work for this student’, let’s say ‘How can we make this work for this student?’

Universal Design for Learning suggests that we identify and remove barriers from our teaching methods and curriculum materials. This will ensure that everyone has equitable access to the same learning opportunities thus encouraging acceptance and respect for everyone. By presenting information in more than one format and media we allow more access to learning. Keeping distance students motivated and feeling included may mean we need to find more ways for them to participate. Encouraging participation in Adobe forums and delivering face to face teaching via block courses can be motivating; however, this can also pose some challenges as these students are frequently fitting study around work and family commitments. There will never be a time that will suit everyone, so by recording sessions we are offering more flexibility for the students; however it is still their decision as to whether or not they take the time to watch or listen. At the School of Veterinary Nursing we ask distance students to produce a video demonstrating a particular skill. Some students really struggle in front of the camera. Is there another way to get them to show us their skills? We could go and assess them in person and in an ideal world that would be great; however costs and time restraints would never allow this. Is there another way? Would they be more comfortable with Skype so they can interact with us more?

Students studying Veterinary Nursing, come from many different backgrounds. Family, culture, ethnicity, personal values and beliefs all influence the cultural diversity within our school. By taking the time to get to know our students we can coax them all to shine. There may be a danger when assessing literacy and numeracy that we prejudge our students to what we think their academic level is. Stewart and Felicetti (1992) "define learning styles as those educational conditions under which a student is most likely to learn." My personal experience is that all students have the capacity to learn. Some may need extra tuition via tutorials or even extra support from their peers. Confidence in their ability can be fragile so the giving of positive feedback to all students is vital. The most important factor is to get to know your students, embrace all learning styles and find teaching methods that work. "Thus, learning styles are not really concerned with what learners learn, but rather how they prefer to learn" (Honey and Mumford)

As I have stated in my previous blog, our students range from School leavers to almost retirement age. To teach to the one-size-fits-all just would not work. One example where access to teaching and learning may be compromised or inequitable is in a new directive for our next academic year. In 2014 the school will only accept assessments that are submitted on-line. While this is a great sustainable objective, some students may find this daunting. There is an assumption that everyone has a computer, understands how to use it and has the capacity to successfully submit all their requested assessments online using Moodle. By doing this are we not removing a degree of flexibility here? Having access to a computer and understanding how to use it is not guaranteed. More mature students may have learnt by using paper based resources so to embrace technology can be challenging and inequitable.

Studying with the School of Veterinary Nursing should be challenging but inspiring for all students. We are encouraging lifelong learners within our profession. We need to reach and engage all learners by exploring options and acknowledging everyone is an individual. Learning in a safe and positive environment will help make learning equitable and accessible to all. If we offer more tuition on computer based learning thus removing some barriers then let’s do that. It may not need to be incorporated into the curriculum but an optional extra to get students up to speed where required. If students are having difficulty understanding a particular subject offering a one on one tutorial or even encouraging peer support can help. Some students are happy to achieve more depth in a subject by sharing their knowledge and teaching others. By working together we can help our students remain motivated and positive towards learning, and hopefully inspire them to achieve.


Honey, P., & Mumford, A. (2000) The learning styles helpers guide. Maidenhead: Peter Honey Publications Lt. Retrieved from 

Rose, D.H., Meyer, A., Strangman, N., and Rappolt, G.
Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age. Retrieved from.http:/

Universal Design for Learning: A framework for access and equity. Slideshare; Jenna Gravel, Dr Patti Ralabate, NEA, Dr Lisa Thomas, AFT.







1 comment:

  1. Cheryl this is an excellent description of the situation facing your students. Yes the video assessment will be challenging for students who are not familiar with this mode. Do they get formative opportunities to submit themselves performing skills on video? Perhaps all that is needed is opportunities to scaffold this, using peer feedback and also feedback from the lecturers to encourage them.

    Are they able to work in groups to create the skills videos (for practice) and submit to a class you tube stream and give each other feedback and encouragement?

    Yes insisting on all materials being online, and submitting assessments online is inflexible. It does make the 'playing field' pretty uneven for students who are unfamiliar with the online environment, and so disadvantages them. This means that they have reduced access to a conducive and safe learning environment. Hence equity is not achieved in the classroom. As you say it is important to identify students who need extra assistance, early, and give them the support they need.

    To enhance flexibility, what else could be done with regard to submitting assessments and providing materials? In the past, I have sent materials on CD or in hard copy to students with restricted Internet access. Is this a possibility in your teaching?

    I guess that is why individual learning agreements would be helpful - early diagnosis of skills and potential barriers. It might be more work at the start but could result in better achievement and completion rates later on. What do you think?

    Note: Stewart and Felicetti (1992) are cited but are not in the reference list.