Equality and Diversity in the Life Sciences

Paterson, V., Szaboova, A., Veitch, N. and White, S. (2021) Equality and Diversity in the Life Sciences. Advance HE Teaching and Learning Conference 2021: Teaching in the Spotlight: What if the Future for HE Curricula?, 6 Jul 2021.

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Abstract

The Equality and Diversity (E+D) project conducted at the School of Life Sciences was created to embed the values of E+D into an undergraduate course and to raise awareness of issues in academic environments and future careers. The resource was created by six student interns and three staff members and integrated to make the curriculum more inclusive and empowering for 350 participating students. It was built around the protected characteristics embedded in the Equality Act, 2010. This resource introduced students to issues and difficulties that students might face in relation to racism, through a series of problem-based learning (PBL) tutorials and supporting digital content. The aims of the study material were to support the development of critical consciousness and thinking in students by encouraging discussion on current E+D topics. By introducing the stories of students and professionals from ethnic backgrounds, we hope to inspire students to be more empathetic and to overcome barriers they might face throughout their careers. Furthermore, we aim to equip all students with strategies to tackle any arising challenges they may face. Through a series of case studies and role model interviews, the stories of successful professionals belonging to various ethnicities were shared. A molecular biologist spoke about the mental health problems that she developed due to the discrimination she faced as a lesbian trans-woman of Asian ethnicity and how she has found support in allies, mentors, supervisors, and her partner. Another case study focuses on a talented student from Botswana studying in the UK. Specific learning outcomes were to recognize the difficulties international students could face and to learn about Imposter Syndrome, prevalent in academia. Students were encouraged to investigate types of postgraduate opportunities available for national and international students, supporting equity to access further degrees. Through problem-based learning sessions, students discuss various implications of the presented situations and offer possible solutions supported by facilitators. Students completed pre and post questionnaires providing detailed feedback of their experiences which we will link into best practice in embedding E+D issues. As part of this project, a downloadable app was created to allow the learning resource to be disseminated widely to other practitioners across all subjects. The process of developing this app and future plans for the project will be discussed. This talk will be given by one staff member and one of the student interns and is intended for all educators keen to integrate E+D teaching materials into their curricula. Additionally, the talk will contain information about the importance of co-curriculum design, involving students and staff engaged in the Athena Swan charter. Educators will have the opportunity to hear more about the benefits of problem-based learning and the challenges of online delivery during the recent pandemic. Anyone considering the integration of small group PBL teaching sessions in a large cohort course might benefit from attending. There are limited examples of E+D teaching resource delivered by PBL through a virtual learning environment. Therefore, with this project, we hope to inspire future generations of educators.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item
Keywords:Equality and diversity, problem based learning.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Paterson, Dr Victoria and White, Dr Stewart and Veitch, Dr Nicola
Authors: Paterson, V., Szaboova, A., Veitch, N., and White, S.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Life Sciences

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