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  5. Associate Lecturer Disability Champion scheme at the Open University (E&I-STEM)

Associate Lecturer Disability Champion scheme at the Open University (E&I-STEM)

Project leader(s): 
Elouise Huxor, Theo Philcox and Lisa Bowers
Theme: 
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Current

This project originated from E&I staff tutors who noticed Associate Lecturer’s (AL’s) increased day to day requests for additional and up-to-date disability and mental health training and support to maintain their high pedagogic standards. AL’s appeared to find it difficult to offer the best practice to their DAR students with complex needs, and to manage their fuller cohort in a timely manner. Some AL’s were more proactive and shared best practice access and inclusive teaching and learning approaches peer-peer, whilst others struggled to find solutions to engaging and supporting their students with complex learning needs, which seemed to be in constant flux as the student progressed through the module.

The aim of this project is to create a trial group of AL Disability Champions who will offer peer-to-peer assistance for disability or mental health teaching inquiries.   Although there is a wealth of disability support resources available at a macro level in the OU, the resources are often difficult to locate for individual time poor AL’s to fully exploit effectively. The project team will tackle this issue by collating resources for easier reference by a separate group of AL Disability Champions who will exploit the resources and training to respond to their peers’ day to day DAR teaching inquiries.

The project ultimately aims to create a peer-peer concept which in the future could be rolled out across STEM, however, the initial pilot will be contained to run with U101 (E&I school). The pilot trial will question whether this type of project can build bridges to support or add further barriers to AL’s and their students. The module U101 was specifically targeted as the pilot module due to the number of DAR students over the last 2 years. Added to this U101 offers specific practical and project skills that may hold issues for students with mental health and disabilities.

Anticipated outcomes 

  • Skilled network of AL Disability Champions who can offer peer-to-peer support for 20 ALs across U101.
  • Through internal and external training, the group of Disability Champions will hold enough confidence and knowledge to enable them to answer a wider range of queries.
  • Working towards increased attainment for DAR flag students across STEM.
  • New insights of how OU disability Champions can understand how to use EDI in complex cases of teaching and learning support cases.

Evaluation of Outcomes

  • Qualitative feedback collected primarily through focus groups, but also through interviews and surveys.
  • Capture Disability Champions and AL knowledge and confidence before and after the project to ascertain gain in knowledge and confidence.
  • A battery of EDI teaching support resources which will be continually updated throughout the project and located in a central place (E&I). The cohesive resource may be utilised by a wider STEM AL cohort for other modules.

Elouise Huxor, Theo Philcox and Lisa Bowers poster (PPTX)

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