I attended the Theatre Design Academic Enhancement Model (AEM) course team workshop at CCW Wimbledon College of Arts. The AEM meeting was to address any anxieties of the results of the National Student Survey (NSS) of data that had fallen below the benchmarks surrounding theatre design department. It was to look at the student experience and attainment gaps between Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and home white students and the attainment gaps between International and home students. This was a good opportunity for me to participate and support, highlighting inclusive teaching within Theatre Design course. There was a concern that inclusive practice in the department would come under scrutiny.
The workshop was revealing. The data from the survey was both enlightening and disturbing. The attainment overview provided a clear graphic to the population of International and BAME and international students. It was disturbing to see highlighted that between 2014 to 2017 that there are no BAME students to have gained a 2:1 or a 1st class honours and have a wider attainment gap compared with International and EU students.
The summary of student feedback for 2017 had good positive comments with regards to sense of community. The concern was the attainment gap figures. The report (Appendix A) showed that within BA (Hons) Theatre Design there is a -18% attainment gap between Home BAME students, at 67% and Home White students at 84%, -29% attainment gap between International students at 52% and Home students at 80%.
Reviewing the data on I had not been aware of such a big gap and It was glaringly obvious it would have a direct impact of the student experience that effects student attainment. The student experience and how what they are learning relates to them is important. I therefore refer to this: HE providers must recognise they must ensure that all students are included and experience equitable participation within the HE environment. (Wray. M 2013) On of my reasons for being and remaining in education is that I want to ensure that all students receive a fair education with the equal amount of opportunity.
In pairs we reviewed from set questions the learning journey of 3 year from 1st to 3rd year; how subjects taught connect and interconnect and how they were scaffolded. The question raised in the workshop was what learning experience are the students receiving? How is this a direct link to the current curriculum? To answer those questions, the workshop entailed drawing out a curriculum map from the 1st year to the 3rd, looking at the units and what they are learning and the relevance to their cultural experience.
New to the theatre design department I am interested through both the Learning and Teaching and Inclusive Teaching and Learning units to answer this question proposed by Simon Betts Dean of Performance: ‘What is the course’s philosophical position and belief the minute they (the students) arrive on the journey of the course?
I include by asking What is the philosophical underpinning through the course culturally and educationally?
We dissected areas within it to outline what was working and what need to be developed. The issue became clear that the curriculum map that there was more scope for students to bring their own voice of self-identity for opportunities to learn from and about each other. The questions were raised to where students do they recognise themselves and where their work is celebrated.
The desire to introduce an inclusive pedagogy must appear early on because once a student has been through the set process in the curriculum before they can actualise their own identities. It was acknowledged this should not occur too late a stage in the curriculum map.
From the discussions and perspectives that took place various suggestions were highlighted that can happen early on:
- New diverse writing and contemporary text to appear throughout the course.
The celebration of what the students can bring.
- A student focus with care and attention to inclusivity right from the beginning of the course/academic year.
- Create opportunities to carve a direction of what we stand for in Theatre Design at Wimbledon and how its supported through the pedagogy.
The meeting was a good activity to unpick the units of the course and how it can be scaffolded where a more inclusive pedagogy is applied. Through the Inclusive Teaching and Learning Unit, I will use the curriculum map drawn out in this session to plan and apply my intervention towards inclusive practice. I obviously will reflect on this day in my approach to address key points raised in this workshop. I will also continue with my reading and research within my inclusive practice unit and to refer to the data on dashboard. My intervention will be documented in my written report once applied.
Wray, M. (2013) Developing an inclusive culture in higher education: final report. York: Higher Education Academy.