Parallel 5

Inclusive learning

Words reflect more about the speaker than is often realised, projecting identity, personal experiences and world-view. Within the confines of a global pandemic and lockdown, words and phrases that were not previously in our vocabulary, whatever language we are using to communicate, have very quickly come into regular use. This has emphasised the role that language plays in reflecting our identity and personal and community experience, and cognitive and socio-linguistic research suggests that language and the way people use it has a profound influence on how we see the world. In critical discourse analysis, language is a form of social practice in which the structure, content and how the words are received and interpreted by the listener reveal how power relations are established and reinforced. However, the many factors which can affect both spoken and written communication, including the relationship of the speakers, their age, social status and gender are not always evident in online communication and this can lead to confusion.

This presentation will explore the impact of unconscious changes to our self-expression and communication style for online learning and teaching, and suggest how we might consciously adapt the language we use to be more effective and inclusive.

Decolonising the curriculum has presented significant challenges to how we perceive education and our role as educators. Across Natural Sciences, this has necessitated a complete change in how we view ourselves and the world around us. I would like to share the three-year journey I and my School have been on in developing the DTC agenda, sharing examples and continuing the story.

Covid-19 has posed unprecedented challenges for undergraduate students. Students arriving at university in 2020 have not had the benefit of social and academic engagement that students in previous years have enjoyed. Students returning to study in years 2 or 3 of their degree have had a completely changed experience from previous years. One of the key challenges during this time is developing and maintaining effective communities and a sense of belonging among students while social distancing measures are in effect. A sense of belonging is an important aspect of good mental wellbeing and it is important universities develop effective school level and university wide communities to support positive emotional health. This presentations draws on previous research and explores the challenges to undergraduate student mental wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic. It will explore how key stressors throughout the academic year will pose challenges due to a possible lack of community belonging and isolation that students may be experiencing as a result of social distancing. It will discuss possible responses to these challenges, and the potential barrier to successfully developing and maintaining communities: student engagement.

Recording: Inclusive Learning