3.5 More specific considerations

Considering student diversity in your teaching

  • Revise curricula if necessary to include different kinds of racial and cultural experiences, and to include them in non-stereotypical ways.
  • Ensure that the teaching methods and materials you use are accessible to students with a variety of specific learning differences.
  • Monitor classroom dynamics to ensure that students whose background may be unfamiliar to you and/or others in the class do not become isolated.
  • Vary the structure during the course to appeal to different learning styles and modes of learning.
  • Don't call on students whose background may be unfamiliar to you and/or others in the class to act as 'spokespersons' for their group, eg 'So how do Muslims feel about ...?'
  • Recognise and acknowledge the history and emotions your students may bring to class.
  • Respond constructively to non-academic experiences that may affect classroom atmosphere and performance.

Adapted from "General principles in teaching 'minority students'", in A Handbook for Teaching Assistants, University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB)

Note that the School is expected to comply with statutory equality legislation and it is therefore important that you are aware of such legislation.

Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010, which came into force in October 2010, streamlines and harmonises previously existing equality legislation and also introduces some changes to strengthen the law against discrimination.

Under the Equality Act 2010, employees, students and service users are protected from being treated less favourably because they have a 'protected characteristic'. The Act sets out nine "protected characteristics" as the grounds upon which discrimination is unlawful: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex (gender) and sexual orientation.

A Public Sector Equality Duty relating to the Equality Act 2010 came into force in April 2011, and guidance on how to implement specific requirements under this Duty were published later in 2011. For more information and guidance see the Equality Act 2010 page on the Equality and diversity website (lse.ac.uk/equalityAndDiversity)

Teaching disabled students

Note that the Equality Act 2010 places a duty on the School to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people to pre-empt any substantial disadvantage in employment, study or the provision of services. You may wish to seek further or specific advice from the Disability and Well-being Service (see Section 10 for contact details), but we list here some practical measures that apply to teaching disabled students.

  • Providing outlines of lectures or class handouts on public folders or Moodle in good time will help dyslexic students and those who may have difficulty taking notes because of a physical or sensory impairment.
  • Always making use of the existing radio mic systems will ensure students with a range of hearing impairments will be accommodated.
  • Reading through PowerPoint slides as you discuss the points will help students with a visual impairment follow more easily. If you make your PowerPoint slides available online, students can go over them at their own pace. You can use the notes field in PowerPoint to add more detailed information and comment. If you save the PowerPoint as a PDF with the 'notes pages' option selected, students will be able to see your slides and notes. IT Services provides advice on using PowerPoint.
  • Making space beforehand for a student using a wheelchair.
  • Allowing tape recording of classes.
  • Using preferred methods of communication, depending on the student, eg email, which can be read by a screen reader, to supplement handwritten notes or oral feedback.

General Course students

One group of students class teachers do need to be aware of is General Course students. Each year, approximately 300 General Course students come to LSE. The General Course offers a one year programme of study that is fully integrated into undergraduate life at LSE. Applicants to the programme have a strong academic record (at least a 3.3 GPA - grade point average, or equivalent and/or in the top 10-15 per cent from their year; a 3.5 GPA if they are concentrating on Economics courses) and will have completed at least two years of university level study by the time they join us. Most General Course students are from North American institutions, but the students who come from them are not necessarily US citizens. There are a small but significant number from European universities. In addition over the last two years, the number of students coming directly from Chinese universities has been on the rise. This meant that, in 2009/10, General Course students were drawn from 45 countries and 110 universities. They make up about 8 per cent of LSE's undergraduate population and about 25 per cent of the intake of 'new' undergraduates to the School.

Their previous personal experiences range from those who have spent all of their lives in their home country and its educational system, to those for whom the LSE year is but one more step in a multi-national educational experience. On the whole, General Course students are not conspicuous within the School. There are General Course students attached to every Department and they take a very broad range of courses. The School's policy is that General Course students should be fully integrated into the School and its Departments, and treated, as far as possible, as are other second or third year undergraduates. The majority of General Course students will return to North America for their final year of study. A small but significant number are in their final year, and will graduate, from their home university, at the year's end.

Where General Course students join first year classes, they will be as new to the LSE as their classmates but, unlike their classmates, they may already have clear ideas about what it is to be a student, and how to go about university-level study. Where they join second and third year classes, they clearly will have had somewhat different 'preparation' for the courses they are studying, compared with students on standard three year programmes. Either way, it is worth noting that they are newcomers who may experience problems in adjusting to life in Britain, but more particularly getting to know LSE's 'ways of doing things'. They may well need help in making sense of LSE administrative practices. Most commonly, they feel academically rather than culturally disorientated. In particular, they may need (and will welcome) additional guidance and feedback on essay writing as well as advice on exam preparation and revision.

The one important difference concerning General Course students that class teachers need to be aware of is the requirement for somewhat different 'class reports' - see Class grades for General Course students in Section 4.4|.

If you have any questions regarding General Course students in your classes do not hesitate to contact the Associate Dean of General Course, Mark Hoffman: gc.dean@lse.ac.uk|.

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