Embedding and Sustaining Inclusive Practices in STEM

McPherson, E.; Lister, K.; Pearson, V. K.; Colwell, C.; Gallen, A. M. and Collins, T. (2019). Embedding and Sustaining Inclusive Practices in STEM. In: 13th International Technology, Education and Development Conference, 11-13 Mar 2019, Valencia, Spain, pp. 2717–2722.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21125/inted.2019.0728


In the UK, data collected nationally by the Higher Education Statistics Agency has shown persistent differences in degree outcomes for specific student groups, such as students with disabilities. In response to this, the Higher Education Funding Council for England are funding 17 projects to help address these inequalities. Building on its expertise in this area, The Open University is leading the Inclusive STEM project with colleagues from the University of Leeds and Plymouth University to evaluate, scale up and promote inclusive educational practices (focusing on the STEM disciplines but with wider application across higher education).

There are challenges with inclusive distance learning, many of which are particularly prevalent in the STEM disciplines because of the use of practical and field activities, and the use of mathematical and symbolic characters. Online and blended learning approaches, including digital access to learning resources, bring opportunities for more inclusive practice, but they can also lead to unforeseen and unquantified barriers for students. Integrating an inclusive approach to teaching and learning requires universities to embed and sustain practices that consider the diverse needs of all students throughout curriculum design and delivery. The Inclusive STEM project has identified examples of good practice in these areas and is evaluating, improving and scaling these up throughout higher education. This has included surveying staff to better understand their knowledge, skills and perceptions about inclusive teaching and learning.

In this presentation, we will present data from three UK universities on staff perceptions and practices regarding accessibility and inclusion; we will explore case study examples of inclusive practice, and we will discuss how these can be applied by practitioners in all areas in order to create a higher education environment in which students of all backgrounds and characteristics are able to succeed.

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