Inclusive Learning

All of our students deserve to fulfil their potential and reach the best possible outcomes. We are committed to improving equality of opportunity for underrepresented groups to access, succeed in and progress from higher education. Inclusive Learning also carries a promise to decolonise the curriculum and, where relevant, to adapt our modes of delivery to support increasingly diverse cohort.

The Inclusive Learning theme in Keele's Curriculum Design Framework (CDF) is a multifaceted one, which inevitably relates to the other themes in the framework. This collection of case studies, blogs and reports illustrates the different facets in action, sharing experiences and inspirations for ensuring inclusive learning lies at the heart of curriculum design and delivery. It also illustrates the two key dimensions of inclusive learning: our anticipatory duty to accommodate the specific needs of learners, in terms of the protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010, which focuses on the learner and adjustments to existing practices; Also, our obligation to reflect on and transform our existing educational and teaching practices, using a social model of inclusion to embrace difference and to better reflect our increasingly diverse community.

The CDF is oriented by Hockings’ (2010) definition of inclusion: ‘the ways in which pedagogy, curricula and assessment are designed and delivered to engage students in learning that is meaningful, relevant and accessible to all. It embraces a view of the individual and individual difference as the source of diversity that can enrich the lives and learning of others’ (p.1). Under the banner of a ‘social curriculum’, the CDF also supports our public duty to design a curriculum that promotes good relations and the: "… legal duty to foster good relations between different groups, ensuring that students are encouraged to express, encounter, negotiate and enjoy difference in a climate of respect and safety." (ECU, 2013)


To what extent do you plan teaching that engages with and draws on diverse learning experiences, cultures, needs and interests rather than designing a curriculum that requires adaptation for specific differences?

Explore the case studies, resources and reflective prompts collected here to help you embed inclusive learning in your own curriculum design, or contribute your own case studies of innovative practice to the CDF.

Video: An introduction to Inclusive Learning

Case studies: inclusive learning

These case studies from Keele demonstrate good practice in embedding inclusive learning in the curriculum

Tackling inequalities: Building a ‘healthier’ Literature curriculum through feminist reflexivity

Adapting DAPL5S for large group teaching

Embedding Academic Capabilities into the Curriculum

Collected Stories: The Development of a Story Book Resource

Use of Learning Pool to Deliver Large Undergraduate Modules to Mixed Ability Learners

Combining Blended Learning with Role Play in an Online Simulation of the Bletchley Park Enigma Codebreakers in WWII

Decolonise the Curriculum: What, Why, How

Breaking Barriers for BAME Students

Resources: inclusive learning

Keele University: Decolonising the Curriculum - Staff Guide. This contains more theory behind Decolonising the Curriculum (DTC), examples to help embed DTC in the three Faculties at Keele, examples from other institutions, as well as useful resources.

AGCAS: What happens next? 2019 Report
A reported on the first destination for 2017 disabled graduates. A really interesting and impactful document to potentially inform colleagues looking to implement work-based learning into curricula

Birmingham University: LGBTQ Inclusivity in the Higher Education Curriculum, Best Practice Guide

UK Universities (2019): #ClosingTheGap. BAME Student Attainment Case Studies

LSE Blog: How Diverse is Your Reading List (Probably not very)

LSE Blog: Contesting Coloniality in International Relations' Reading Lists

Stonewall: Delivering LGBT-Inclusive Higher Education

Teeside: Decolonising Feminism Project
Recognising the vital role played by contemporary women writers and researchers in addressing issues of gender equality, this project forged new international research networks between scholars in India, Pakistan and the UK. It did so with two main aims: to advance research on contemporary writing by South Asian women authors and to promote the professional development of South Asian women early career researchers.

Rebecca Wilson - ‘Refocusing the lens: ideas to liberate the curriculum’
Short video on project that asked students to make a film about how to 'liberate their curriculum'

Office for Students: Attainment gap case studies
Examples of how providers are tackling the black, Asian and minority ethnic degree awarding gap which you may find helpful when developing your own approaches. Some of these approaches may not yet be fully evaluated.

Oxford Brookes: Inclusive Assessment Guide

SEDA - Keele Case Study: The Lecture from Hell Project

JISC - Supporting an Inclusive Learner Experience in Higher Education

AGCAS Teaching Inclusively: Disability

University of Kent: Autism Orientation Programme

Lee Fallin, University of Hull: Poster on Designing Inclusive Resources

Blog: Toward Inclusive Learning Spaces: Physiological, Cognitive, and Cultural Inclusion and the Learning Space Rating System

Cheryan, S., Ziegler, S. A., Plaut, V. C., & Meltzoff, A. N. (2014). Designing Classrooms to Maximize Student Achievement. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 1(1), 4–12.

UCL: Student Reviewers of Teaching

Rebecca Wilson - ‘Refocusing the lens: ideas to liberate the curriculum’

UCL Inclusive Curriculum Healthcheck

UCL Decolonising the Medical Curriculum reading list

Reflective Prompts

Consider the following questions to identify possible starting points for further development of inclusive learning in your programme or module:

How far do your reading lists, sources and images reflect diverse perspectives?
Have you audited reading lists to explore diversity in terms of gender, ethnicity and Eurocentrism? For example, practitioners in the School of Medicine have become aware that cases are usually illustrated with white skin types only; the School of Geography, Geology and the Environment (GGE) have modules including many international case studies, e.g. when looking at biodiversity.

How accessible are your resources for learners with specific learning requirements?
For example, do all diagrams and pictures in electronic resources include Alt Text (alternative text that accompanies images in PPTs and other digital resources)? Are wheelchair users able to engage in in-situ seminar discussions equitably? Do you offer the choice of digitally recorded feedback and marking as well as written?

To what extent does your programme or module facilitate or require groups from diverse backgrounds to collaborate with each other?
For example, is small collaborative group work used as a standard teaching method for learning and research? Are collaborative groups devised to ensure diversity? Does difference and diversity form part of group discussions as a focus for enquiry?

To what extent are your discipline's academic literacies embedded in programme design, delivery and assessment?
Do you explain the genres of academic texts in your discipline? For example, some programmes embed academic reading and writing into their core first year modules as part of the teaching learning strategy. Others embed academic literacies as part of the assessment task. Some have embedded reading retreats as part of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

To what extent has student voice or partnership influenced the design of your programme or module?
For example, are students involved in the early stages of design as consultants? Do you conduct focus groups and interviews with students about current curriculum design to investigate perspectives and experiences? Some modules have collaborated with Keele’s Decolonising the Curriculum Network to analyse the current structure and content of their programmes.

How far do assessments enable student choice and negotiation?
For example, some programmes allow students to meet the assessment brief and learning outcomes in different formats (written, recorded or viva) or with a choice of methods (case study, essay, report, blog etc); some allow students to negotiate the focus or context for their assessment.

To what extent are assessment results analysed for signs of any difficulties for groups of students? This might be for specific protected characteristics, such as gender, disability, ethnicity, age etc., or trends for your international students.