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Improving Teaching and Learning with EDI Awareness



This Learning Enhancement project has been funded through the HEA and the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning.

PROJECT TITLE: Improving Teaching and Learning with EDI Awareness
PROJECT COORDINATORS: Dr. Sharon Shannon and Prof. Emma Sokell
COLLABORATORS: Dr. Anthony Cronin, Dr. Tom McCormack, Owen Johnson, Catherine Kelley
MODULE/PROGRAMME: Physics Demonstrating\Tutoring and Peer-Assisted Tutoring
MODULE CODE: PHYC40570 and MATH30340
STUDENT COHORT: UG and PG Part-time or Full-time students in the School of Physics and the School of Mathematics and Statistics.



Recent research has highlighted a need for courses to increase Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) awareness to improve students’ overall Teaching and Learning (T&L) experiences. The benefits of EDI coursework for university students are undeniable, and the majority of institutions now require EDI training in some form in their curricula. However,  some training that has taken place has been reported to be passive as opposed to activities that allow participants to experience and explore EDI content. In this LEP project, active engagement with the subject matter via a game-based workshop was facilitated.  Here, participants experienced a collaborative journey that encouraged awareness and reflection of EDI issues in T&L.

This LEP examines the effects of EDI training on the student’s T&L experiences and encourages the personal and professional growth of teaching assistants. This piece explores an important relationship between game-based learning and the student voice in EDI training. Finally, this project outlines that EDI training needs to involve meaningful dialogue led by research-informed content that encourages people to engage with the subject matter. This approach ensures that teaching assistants were engaged in active and critical learning processes to develop EDI awareness in their T&L practice.


All institutions have a responsibility to uphold their commitment to providing an inclusive work environment for all faculty, staff and students. EDI awareness in any educational setting plays a critical role in shaping university campuses and educational spaces. Here, we explore ways to improve the quality of this T&L experience by embedding EDI training into teaching assistants’ training courses for T&L enhancement within and across disciplines. The goal of the project is to encourage teaching assistants to grow personally, socially and academically through opportunities to engage with EDI concepts in T&L to raise awareness and provide support for EDI-related issues.  The main goal of this project was to implement EDI training involving meaningful dialogue led by research-informed content in the form of a role-playing workshop. This study set out to capture and analyse a small cross-section of students’ views before and after the workshop which are briefly explored in this report.  The following topics were planned to be examined;

  • EDI and Teaching Assistant Experiences
  • EDI in a T&L Setting
  • EDI Content Inclusion and Reflection on T&L Practice

The Innovative Approach

The main innovative approach of this project to practice is the incorporation of EDI training for teaching assistants in the form of a workshop that included a card-based roleplaying game called Aliens and Astronauts. The game-based mechanism of delivery and its methods set out to encourage teaching assistants’ awareness of EDI in a T&L setting. Through the process of playing a game, a person naturally learns and develops skills. This approach ensures that teaching assistants were engaged in active and critical learning processes to develop EDI awareness and complementary T&L strategies. 

Aliens and Astronauts is an EDI game that has been developed by Business Games Ireland. Business Games developed its EDI games to help shape a positive EDI culture within organisations. In this game teams of Aliens and Astronauts work together to fix a broken spaceship with the goal to engage with different civilisations and cultures in the process. This was followed by a reflective process where the class discussed their experiences of EDI in T&L, the discussion of lecture content informed by current EDI in T&L best practices, and finally an overview of UCD’s EDI support services and networks.


The teaching assistants interacted in a fast-paced team-building exercise focused on collaboration and EDI-based discussions. Two anonymous surveys were conducted based on their experiences and knowledge of EDI in a T&L setting. A series of key themes emerged from the thematic analysis; Educational Inequality, EDI Training and Awareness, Gender, Race, Disability, Curricula Reform, EDI Communication Skills and Lack of Representation. Teaching assistants who undertook the workshop and responded, reported that 100% of those participants did reflect on the content and adapted their T&L approach. Furthermore, 88.9% of teaching assistants would like more opportunities to learn about EDI and T&L and finally, 100% of teaching assistants would like more opportunities to anonymously communicate EDI issues to their institution.

This project promoted meaningful participation by teaching assistants to develop their professional practice by supporting them with professional development opportunities. Furthermore, this provides some evidence that despite institutional engagement with EDI policies and procedures some of the student population are unfamiliar with EDI and how it affects their T&L experiences. Therefore, additional time and resources need to be implemented to overcome these challenges. The next phase of this research would involve investigating the impact of undergraduate student experiences with EDI T&L resources.


The educational game and session content can be purchased from Business Games, contact details:info@businessgames.com.

For advice on running a similar T&L session contact Dr. Sharon Shannon, UCD School Of Physics