WHAT

Dialogue Days (DDs) bring together students and staff from a particular course or prgoramme of study, and create a safe space in which to discuss diversity, belonging and success.  These powerful conversations:

  • Communicate and demonstrate institutional and/or programme commitment to diversity, belonging and success.
  • Allow students to engage and learn about diversity, belonging and strategies to be successful in higher education and beyond.
  • 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.

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 can be delivered face-to-face, online or in a blended version; Dialogue Day 1 (DD1) is delivered at the start of Semester 1 for first year students, and Dialogue Day 2 (DD2) is delivered in the second half of Semester 2.

The first DD, at the time of transition into higher education, focuses on dialogue about diversity in relation to past experiences and expectations of the forthcoming HE programme of study, promoting interaction between students and with staff to develop belonging and thinking about how the course can support students to be successful.

The second DD, towards the end of the academic year, reflects on the first year experience of studying, belonging and succeeding in higher education, and empowers students to feel safe and supported in looking ahead to be successful in their second year of study, where there are increased academic demands and higher expectations of student autonomy.

In 2019-20 Dialogue Days were piloted in education programmes in four universities.  DD1 was delivered face-to-face, and DD2 was delivered online.  In 2020-21 DDs will delivered to other programmes in a range of disciplines, using mixed modes of delivery.  From 2020-21 they will include more explicit conversations about race, ethnicity and discrimination in all participating institutions.  Each year DDs are evaluated using Programme Evaluation tools (Thomas 2020).

WHY

Dialogue Days provide a significant opportunity for diversity, belonging and success to be openly discussed in a safe environment, benefitting both students and staff.  The activities and facilitation enable students and staff to acknowledge, identify and share experiences, expectations, challenges and successes.  This demonstrates institutional and course commitment to recognising, valuing and discussing these issues, rather than ignoring or denigrating difference.  The candid conversations empower students to belong and succeed, and provide staff with insights to help them organise learning and support to be more inclusive of the students enrolled in the course.  The activities themselves promote interaction, and contribute to the development of effective relationships and student identities.

Timing

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Participants

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Duration

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Follow up

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Dialogue Days: Learning Objectives

Aim: The aim of the transitions into higher education DD is to bring together staff and students from particular course or programme of study at the start of the first year to create a safe space in which to discuss diversity, belonging and success and develop a successful cohort.  The objectives are to:

  • Allow students to engage and learn about diversity, belonging and strategies to be successful in higher education and beyond.
  • 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.

From 2020 onwards:

  • Provide a safe space to discuss ethnicity, race and discrimination.

The learning outcomes for students are to:

  1. Better understand their own diversity and success.
  2. Appreciate the importance of the diversity, inclusion and success of the cohort.
  3. Recognise the role of engagement and belonging to success in HE.
  4. Develop belonging with peers, staff, student mentors, the course and the university.
  5. Identify and share anonymously diversity and support needs with the staff team.
  6. (2020 onwards: be able to talk about and understand more about ethnicity, race and discrimination)

Outcomes for staff are to:

  1. Get to know the incoming student cohort.
  2. Learn about the diversity and support needs of their students.
  3. Become confident discussing diversity, belonging and success.
  4. Be ready to participate in the Team Teacher Reflection session and develop curriculum, pedagogy, assessment and support to maximise student success.

(2020 onwards: be able to talk about and understand more about ethnicity, race and discrimination in higher education)

Aim: The aim of the diversity and success through higher education DD is to reflect on the first year experience of studying, belonging and succeeding in higher education, enabling students to look ahead and plan to be successful in their second year of study, where there are increased academic demands and higher expectations of student autonomy.

The objectives are to:

  • Allow students to engage and learn about diversity, belonging and strategies to be successful in higher education and beyond.
  • 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.

From 2020 onwards:

  • Provide a safe space to discuss ethnicity, race and discrimination.

The learning outcomes for students are to:

  1. Recognise and celebrate their success and the success of others.
  2. Develop a deeper understanding of diversity and belonging.
  3. Gain understanding about being successful in the second year of the programme.
  4. Identify individual and cohort support needs and how to achieve them either individually and collaboratively.
  5. (2020 onwards: feel confident discussing ethnicity, race and discrimination)

Outcomes for staff are to:

  1. Appreciate what has gone well during the year for students, and identify gaps.
  2. Understand why students feel like they belong, or don’t belong within the learning experience.
  3. Identify changes to curriculum, pedagogy, assessment and support that need to be made to support students’ success in year 2.
  4. (2020 onwards: to recognise their role in enabling the belonging and success of students from minority backgrounds).