- Inclusion and Diversity: Meeting the Needs of All Students
Because few college instructors receive formal training in exemplary teaching (including student affairs professionals who often teach), and because one of the professional competencies identified by ACPA–College Student Educators International's (2009) recent report on professional competencies is teaching, this book is an important contribution to increasing student learning. This book is part of a series of texts aimed at offering practical guidance for exemplary college teaching. In particular, it offers a focus on meeting the learning needs of heterogeneous groups of students. Though meant to improve the learning opportunities of all students, cohorts particularly identified include students of a wide span of age, abilities, experiences, and cultures. General guidance is offered for inclusive practices as well as specific strategies for numerous groups of underrepresented students including students with disabilities, international students, students of color, and students from the LBGT community.
As described in the introduction, the authors aimed at balancing pragmatism and principle, trying to avoid being prescriptive as there is no one right way to teach. They achieved this aim. Principles and strategies are sufficiently general for most, if not all, disciplines and circumstances, but sufficiently specific to be useful. For example, the variety of suggestions on how to offer students feedback will be of value.
It is important to realize that the main audience for this text is college faculty in the United Kingdom. Yet, it does have value for those designing and teaching learning experiences elsewhere. Moreover, those hoping to teach in or advise students about studying in the UK might also find this text useful. Examples of research and practices of exemplary teaching come from the UK as well as the US, Canada, and Australia. There is frequent reference to the UK higher education milieu including law, reports, position titles, and codes of practice that those outside the UK may find less useful. For example, those in residence life in the US may cringe at the use of the term "hall wardens." However, in other ways, particularly in the area of discrimination law, readers may find the comparisons insightful offering potential possibilities for increased inclusive practices. For example, the authors differentiate between the social model of disability which is "actions of society that have imposed barriers that are responsible for disabling some people" (p. 14) and impairments that people have. It is the authors' contention that society has created "disabling barriers" (p. 14).
All of the chapters in this book emphasize the importance of inclusive practices. In particular, chapters in this text contain: practices in preparation to meet the needs of current students (.e.g., being informed on discrimination law, inclusive communication practices, barriers to learning); educational principles underpinning inclusive teaching and learning and how they apply in small group, large group, on-line, and experiential contexts; fair assessment practices; and assistance for students (undergraduate as well as graduate) as they transition to life in a global world after [End Page 231] their degree completion. What is unique about this text is that each chapter offers reflective questions to assist the reader in applying the principles covered. For example, the reader is asked to contemplate how "your identities, interests, and abilities influenced you as a student and now as an instructor"? (p. 20). In what ways were you taught and how does that influence your current "teaching methodologies" (p. 20). Each chapter also offers activities, web resources, and suggestions for further reading.
Principles, including their definitions, are offered clearly and succinctly. How these principles can be applied through practical strategies are discussed in subsequent chapters. Educational principles covered include contructivism, reflective and action learning, andragogy versus pedagogy, declarative and contextual knowledge, and linking new learning to prior learning. Moreover, benefits of e-learning plus small and large group designs are discussed, but so too are the problems associated within these contexts when they are poorly designed. The authors make specific recommendations within various learning contexts. For example, in the context of e-learning, recommendations are made in the areas...