WHAT

Dialogue Days (DD) will bring together staff involved in the development and delivery of the curriculum in specific courses with participating students.  They will provide an opportunity for the course team to develop an immediate appreciation of the diversity of the incoming cohort, and will build a deeper knowledge base about the diversity of their students. The process of dialogue itself, and the explicit outcomes, are expected to improve the quality of the inclusive curriculum and enhance student satisfaction and outcomes through better engagement and belonging.

The impact will be that staff and students will better understand the extent and range of diversity within the student population, how this impacts engagement, belonging, retention and success, and ways in which aspects of curriculum organisation, contents, learning, teaching and assessment that can be developed, adapted or extended to become more inclusive of students’ diverse backgrounds, expectations and future goals.

HOW

Dialogue Days will be piloted as a suite of projects in an Education programme/course in 2019-20, and delivered in another programme in a different faculty in 2020-21.  The intention is to run two Dialogue Days in each of the participating disciplines, one at the start of the first year, and one during the second semester.

The first DD, at the time of transition into higher education will focus on dialogue about diversity in relation to past experiences and expectations of the forthcoming HE programme of study.  The second DD will look back on the experience of the first semester of study in the context of diversity, and make recommendations for change, and students will look forward to their hopes for the next semester and future years of study.

WHY

Dialogue Days will allow a process of continual learning and improvement, and demonstrate in a tangible way the institution, faculty, course and individual commitment to diversity and
success, and create an environment in which difference is valued rather than ignored or denigrated. This approach (Participatory Rural Appraisal) has the potential to revolutionise relations and understanding, and can be easily replicated and transferred to other courses, departments and institutions.

Timing

The first DD is to be held near the beginning of the first semester.  The second DD will be held during the second semester.

Participants

The intention is for the whole student cohort, and some second year students, as well as the whole staff team teaching the course to participate in the DDs.

Duration

In order to facilitate integration into the timetable, it is suggested that each DD lasts for approximately half a day.

Follow up

At the end of each programme an additional independent learning activity is suggested.  This could be assessed and followed in small group or one-to-one sessions.

Dialogue Days: Learning Objectives

Semester 1: Diversity and transition into higher education

Aim: The aim of the transitions into higher education DD is to use dialogue to develop insight and understanding amongst students and staff about diversity and success: different dimensions of diversity within the cohort, diverse strategies used to be successful and overcome adversity, different past experiences, and different future expectations of the course.   Understanding diversity and transition will:

  • Communicate and demonstrate institutional and/or programme commitment to diversity and success.
  • Allow students to engage and learn about diversity, resilience and alternative strategies to be successful during their study.
  • Enable academic staff to develop insight into the diversity of the cohort of students entering their programme.
  • Improve student engagement and belonging, retention and success.

These factors will be beneficial to staff and students.  Understanding diversity and success is expected to improve the personalisation and engagement of the learning experience, develop students understanding of how to cope with transition challenges, and improve student satisfaction, continuation and attainment during the first year of higher education.

Semester 2: Diversity and success in higher education

Aim: The aim of the second DD is to reflect on the first semester’s experiences, identifying learning for students and staff about the experience, and to look forward the second semester of study, reflecting on how it will be different, what is to be achieved and considering different ways of being successful.  Understanding diversity and success in the first and second semesters of study will:

  • Reflect on the positive experiences and challenges of learning, engagement and belonging in the first semester, and provide student feedback on their first semester in HE.
  • Identify improvements staff and students would like to see in the next semester.
  • Provide an opportunity to review different types and experiences of assessment.
  • Set individual and collaborative goals for the second semester and beyond.

The DD is will be beneficial to staff and students, providing feedback on diverse students experience of the first semester, including reflections on the value of the first DD, and providing feedback on any innovations made following DD1. Students and staff will develop suggestions for improvements, and will consider diversity in relation to issues such as assessment and future goals, and set individual and collaborative goals.