Represent student diversity in curriculum
Learning resources and activities should reflect the diversity of the wider community in positive and non-stereotypical ways. This helps ensure a relevant and authentic educational experience, and gives students a sense that their diverse identities are valid and valued. This is the fourth of Deakin’s Inclusive Education Principles. Here are some strategies.
- Make students’ reality visible in the curriculum, including material that they read, discuss, write about and are assessed on. Develop curriculum to include examples, images, case studies, texts and assessments that represent and give legitimacy to a wide range of people with a wide range of cultures, ethnic groups, religions, abilities, geographical locations, genders and sexual orientations. Avoid stereotypical representations and ensure diverse groups are presented in a positive light. The concept of ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ is very real for students who are in a stage of developing their future identity. For more information, see the Inclusive images guide (PDF, 654kb).
- Work towards embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and perspectives in courses in and units in which you teach. The Teaching Indigenous Australian Students pages of this website provide a starting point on how to go about this. Also see the exemplar Creating Aboriginal curriculum in partnership.
- Invite students to contribute readings and topics that reflect their lived experience.
- Make classrooms and discussion forums safe places for critical discussion of diversity issues that arise in the context. See Enjoy group work for further information on this.
- It is preferable to embed a diverse view of society across whole courses, but a first step may be to introduce weekly topics on diversity issues (though this needs to be done in a way that avoids overt tokenism, which will result in reinforcing the assumption that the male, white, middle-class person is the norm and other identities are ‘other’).
- Use gender-inclusive pronouns (‘they’ instead of ‘he’ and ‘she’) in written and spoken language, to reflect and validate gender diversity.
- When incorporating perspectives of LGBTIQ+ community in your teaching, familiarise yourself with the LGBTIQ+ inclusive practices guide and the Teaching LGBTIQ+ students pages of this website. When representing relationships in case studies, incorporate different type of families such as rainbow families, cross-cultural families and families with members living with a disability.
- When incorporating perspectives of people with financial disadvantage background, familiarise yourself with the Low socioeconomic status students pages of this website.
- When referring to the body of an individual in learning resources, it is important to consider that there are people living with a physical disability. Incorporating the disability perspective sensitively into an example or case study could bring this into the conversation and develop students’ understanding of disability issues. Also consider ways to incorporate perspectives of people living with a mental disability.
- When presenting data to students or collecting research data, consider how gender is represented. If the data presented to students is gender binary (male/female), an acknowledgement of this to students will demonstrate that you recognise that not all genders are represented in the data. When planning to collect research data check the Guide to data collection (PDF, 174kb) from the Inclusive practice guide.
The following case studies were prepared by Ramon Martinez Mendoza and Faculty of Health staff.