Student diversity and inclusion

Students at RMIT bring a broad range of experiences, backgrounds and aspirations.

It is important to respect the range of diverse backgrounds, different learning needs, prior experiences, values and beliefs that individuals bring with them into the learning environment (Griffiths, 2010).

By recognising that each student we teach has individual needs, experiences and rights, we can avoid labeling or categorising students into specific ‘groups’ and instead focus on the positive attributes of our diverse student cohorts. This will enable us to provide opportunities for all students to reflect and learn.

Diversity dimensions

Thomas and May describe four diversity dimensions: educational, dispositional, circumstantial and cultural:

Diversity dimensions

Examples

Educational

Level/type of entry qualifications; skills; ability; knowledge; educational experience; life and work experience; learning approaches.

Dispositional

Identity; self-esteem; confidence; motivation; aspirations; expectations; preferences; attitudes; assumptions; beliefs; emotional intelligence; maturity; learning style perspectives; interests; self-awareness; gender; sexuality.

Circumstantial

Age; disability; paid/voluntary employment; caring responsibilities; geographical location; access to IT and transport services; flexibility; time available; entitlements; financial background and means; marital status.

Cultural

Language; values; cultural capital; religion and belief; country of origin/residence, ethnicity/race; social background.

Inclusive curriculum design in higher education: Considerations for effective practice across and within subject areas (Thomas and May, 2010 in Morgan H, Houghton A-M, Inclusive curriculum design in higher education, The Higher Education Academy 2011)

For each of the dimensions, individual students will identify with their own particular combination of each of them. By examining these dimensions we can reflect on the attributes we have in common with each other, as well as those that make us unique and different from each other.

References