Embedding and Sustaining Inclusive Practice to Support Disabled Students in Online and Blended Learning.

Pearson, Victoria; Lister, Katharine; McPherson, Elaine; Gallen, Anne-Marie; Davies, Gareth; Colwell, Chetz; Bradshaw, Kate; Braithwaite, N St.J and Collins, Trevor (2019). Embedding and Sustaining Inclusive Practice to Support Disabled Students in Online and Blended Learning. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 1, article no. 4.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5334/jime.500


UK higher education data has shown persistent differences in degree outcomes for specific student groups. Consequently, the Office for Students (the UK government’s higher education regulator) are funding 17 projects to address these inequalities. Building on its expertise, our institution is leading the IncSTEM project alongside colleagues from two other universities, to evaluate, scale up and promote inclusive teaching and learning practice within Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines in higher education.

There are challenges with inclusive distance learning, many of which are emphasised in STEM through the prevalence of practical and field activities, the widespread use of groupwork, and the use of text that is rich in symbolic notation. Online and blended learning approaches, including access to digital learning resources, bring opportunities for more inclusive practice, but 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 students throughout curriculum design and delivery, bringing benefits to all students.

In this paper, we present data on staff perceptions and practices regarding accessibility and inclusion for disabled students, explore examples of inclusive practice, and discuss how these can be applied by practitioners in order to create a higher education environment in which students of all backgrounds and characteristics are able to succeed.

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