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University for All Implementation

Implementation of University for All is well underway with all Widening Participation Representatives having completed (opens in a new window)implementation plans

In this article we highlight the implementation workshops developed and delivered in three programme areas: Arts & Humanities, Engineering and the School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Sciences. You’ll see that the implementation workshops have transitioned online very successfully, with good attendance at workshops and new methods of capturing discussions and actions. University for All implementation workshops all include a self-assessment exercise based on the Toolkit for Inclusive Higher Education Institutions. The Toolkit, developed by UCD Access & Lifelong Learning, is a key building block in the University for All initiative. 

The steps to implementation include:

  1. Getting support  from the Academic or Administrative Senior Leader e.g. College Prinicpal, Dean, Director
  2. Establishing a Change Team to drive the project lobally, including key colleagues e.g. VP Equality Diversity & Inclusion, VP Teaching & Learning etc.
  3. Planning a University for All Workshop (with support of the Senior Leader and Change Team). Previous experience has shown that attendance can be maximised when the invitation is disseminated by the local senior leader. The workshop is planned with consideration of local needs and priorities and can include:
    • Exploration of Widening Participation Data to include: Admissions, Participation, Progression, Completion, Outward Mobility and Graduate Outcomes. Change teams determine which data is most useful and how it should be presented (e.g. intersectionality of access groups, gender balance etc.)
    • Engagement with the Student Voice. UCD Access Leaders can offer their perspective on inclusion in UCD providing insight into the good practice currently ongoing and exploring how local areas can improve their practice.
    • Universal Design/Inclusive Practice training and development. UCD Access & Lifelong Learning can provide training in Universal Design and Inclusive Practice. Areas for development should be determined by the Widening Participation Representative and their Change Team.
    • Toolkit Self-Assessment. This is the most important element of the Unviersity for All workshop. The self-assessment exercise assists with identification of areas of good practice and areas which should be prioritised for immediate or short/long term action. 
  4. Following the workshop an action plan is created identifying local University for All projects to be progressed. This action plan is then workshoped with the University for All project team before being presented to the local Senior Leader for approval. 

Arts & Humanities, Dr Mary Farrelly

Ahead of the systematic implementation of the University for All Toolkit for Inclusive Higher Education Institutions, the College of Arts and Humanities held an initial self-assessment workshop on December 10th at 11am - 1pm. As a springboard for reflection on attitudes and approaches to embedding inclusion across the College, participants completed a pre-workshop Google Form highlighting key sections of the toolkit for discussion. As well as recording initial ideas and generating data for discussion, the form identified key actions already taking place around the college including seminars on inclusive teaching and learning, the Thinking Creatively Visit Days, and UDL information sessions. The structure of the workshop followed that of the Toolkit for Inclusive Higher Education Institutions which focussed the discussion and helped participants identify key areas for future development. Dr Lisa Padden's presentations during the workshop introduced the Toolkit and key data from the University for All Student Inclusion Survey. This provided participants with important contextual information that will inform both individual actions on inclusion and broader approaches to implementing the Toolkit over the coming year. In order to make this information available to as many people as possible, these presentations have been edited into short videos and included in Dr Mary Farrelly’s new Arts and Humanities Online Workbook for Implementing the Toolkit for Inclusive Higher Education Institutions.

Following on from this workshop, a very generous group of current students and Access Leaders from the College of Arts and Humanities volunteered their time to share student perspectives on inclusion within the College at a student panel event on the 14th of March. The event offered an opportunity for faculty and staff to ask for feedback and suggestions directly from students who, in their role as Access Leaders, have developed a deep understanding of what works and what remains to be developed in terms of inclusion in teaching, learning, and student supports. The Access Leaders responded to questions drawing from both personal experiences and discussions with fellow students. The discussion highlighted areas of online learning that have been particularly challenging for students as well as suggestions for small adjustments from staff that could mean big improvements in student wellbeing during a particularly challenging exam period. Communications to colleagues regarding the Q and A were made through Jean Keating, Director of the College of Arts and Humanities Office and further promoted by the College's VP for EDI, Dr Joseph Twist and EDI representatives in each school, ensuring that the event was very well attended by staff from all areas. The session offered much food for thought and reminded participants and attendees of the importance of keeping the student voice at the centre of our work. 

Engineering, Associate Professor Mark Flanagan 

A College-level workshop entitled "University for All: Inclusive Teaching Workshop for Engineering" was organised by Assoc. Prof. Mark Flanagan in January 2021. It consisted of two fully online sessions, on 14 January from 12:00-13:00 and on 15 January from 13:00-14:00. The planning process was simplified by the fact that this was the second such workshop for Engineering, another similar but in-person event having been organised in October 2019. This previous workshop had led to valuable discussions, but two improvements were planned for the second workshop, namely (i) that key stakeholders in Schools should be strongly encouraged to be present; and (ii) that a better attempt could be made to record the key outcomes of the proceedings in order to create actions. All communications to colleagues regarding the workshop were made through the Engineering and Architecture College Principal Prof. Aoife Ahern, who also ensured the availability of key stakeholders such as Heads of School, Heads of Teaching and Learning, Programme Directors, and the College's EDI representative. The Workshop consisted of 4 sessions of 1/2 hour each – Disability Awareness, Student Panel, Universal Design for Learning and the Toolkit for Inclusive Higher Education Institutions.

For the Toolkit session, a Google Form containing sample self-assessment questions from the Programme and Curriculum Design, Teaching & Learning Pillar was created based on a template kindly shared by Dr. Mary Farrelly (College of Arts and Humanities), and the session was based on joint discussion of, and individual completion of, this form. The online format worked well and allowed for the discussion of the Toolkit session to be captured via audio and video recording. The Google Form also allowed the capture of staff members' points in real time. It is also worth noting that Google Form submissions were almost all made from within the online Toolkit session (as opposed to afterwards). The Google Form was also emailed (by the College Principal) to all academic staff in the College after the workshop ended. The Workshop had 25 attendees on each day, and the discussions have led to actions which will form part of our College's Action Plan in this domain.

School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science, Associate Professor Caitriona Cunningham 

The University for All implementation team in the School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science is led by Dr Caitriona Cunningham and includes key colleagues from the school: Dr Ross Neville, Associate Dean of Equality Diversity and Inclusion and Dr James Matthews, Associate Dean of Teaching & Learning. The implementation team developed a University for All workshop held on the 12th of March 2021 with the support of Dr Lisa Padden, Project Lead for University for All. The date was agreed to suit as many as possible and set well in advance, requiring registration. In preparation for the workshop the Head of School, Professor Catherine Blake, emailed all School staff, highlighting UCD’s commitment to University for All and encouraging a high level of workshop participation. This was key to show senior buy in for the implementation - in total 39 staff members registered including a mix of academic (graduate students to Professor levels), clinical, administrative and support staff. In preparation for the workshop widening participation data were shared with colleagues at the School Teaching & Learning Committee meeting on the 4th of March. This included admissions, participation, outward mobility and graduate outcomes data relating specifically to the School’s own programmes. The workshop on the 12th of March included a student panel, a presentation on the responses from students and staff in the School to the University for All Survey 2020. Next the Toolkit for Inclusive Higher Education Institutions was introduced. The implementation team decided to focus on ‘Student Assessment practices’ for their workshop. Six break groups were created in Zoom with facilitator guidance on breakout group activity.

Preprepared Google Sheets were utilised to capture examples of good practice as well as suggested actions, with outputs focused on four assessment-related statements chosen by the implementation team and mapped to current teaching and learning priorities in the School. Each breakout group spokesperson shared their outputs with all workshop participants on returning to the Zoom Main Room and discussion ensued. Having captured this information an action plan is being developed with a focus on what is achievable in the coming year. The next steps include a recommendation for academic Programme teams to incorporate suggestions into the curriculum planning process, reminding Module Coordinators to incorporate any possible changes for inclusion when the Curriculum Management System Opens. The School will also investigate workshops on the other Toolkit pillars and explore the possibility of working with other Schools in the College. The School also plans to host a Universal Design workshop and encourage faculty to take up the Digital Badge for Universal design for Teaching & Learning.

What’s next?

This summer we will be publishing the University for All Implementation Plans for all programme areas and policy/support units in the University. These plans will be available on the Registrar’s intranet for all staff and faculty of UCD to keep up to date on the plans in their own area. A key element of these implementation plans will be to create a reponsitory of lessons learned to date which can be utilised by all University for All change teams. Remember, if you’d like to be involved in University for All or you have an idea for implementation, please get in touch with your Widening Participation Representative.

University for All

University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
E: UniversityforAll@ucd.ie