WHAT is inclusive education and WHY is it so important?

Deakin’s diverse student cohort

Deakin has a very diverse community of students and staff that span axes of difference including nationality, language, culture, gender, sexuality, religion, and socio-economic status. No two students are the same, even if they display similar types of characteristics. Often these differences are invisible and never disclosed, and may vary over time.

Inclusive teaching therefore means rethinking the ways in which we teach, design and deliver curriculum and assessment in order that learning is engaging, meaningful, relevant and accessible to all students.

To teach inclusively is not just an aspirational goal

All Australian higher education providers are obliged under the Australian Higher Education Standards Framework (2015) to use inclusive teaching and learning approaches and practices:

‘[T]o accommodate student diversity, including the under-representation and/or disadvantage experienced by identified groups, and create equivalent opportunities for academic success regardless of students’ backgrounds’.

Inclusive teaching is challenging

Inclusive teaching acknowledges that there is not a ‘one size fits all’ magic formula. It requires us to reflect on our unconscious biases and to question our assumptions. Being proactive about incorporating diversity into our pedagogical approaches and curriculum is part of a teaching experience that is evolving and complex. It challenges us to use multiple strategies for delivering information and to provide multiple ways for students to demonstrate the knowledge they have acquired.

But the benefits are worth it! More of your students will feel engaged and valued. They will feel safer and more able to voice and present their ideas, thoughts and questions. And scholarly research demonstrates that this will contribute to improved student retention and success data.


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