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Inclusivity in the research community and academic staff development Dr Stan Taylor, Academic Staff Development Officer.

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Presentation on theme: "Inclusivity in the research community and academic staff development Dr Stan Taylor, Academic Staff Development Officer."— Presentation transcript:

1 Inclusivity in the research community and academic staff development Dr Stan Taylor, Academic Staff Development Officer

2 Background In 2000, while much research on disabled students on taught programmes, virtually none at all on disabled students taking research programmes; The Premia study (2003-5) showed: –that disabled students identified a range of issues with admissions; –that disabled research students had very varied experiences with their supervisors, with some finding them highly supportive and empathetic, while others were by and large left to get on with it;

3 Staff development response so far: Inclusion of case studies and exercises in: E-learning module for admissions tutors; Preparing to supervise workshop for new supervisors; Reflecting on supervision workshop for established supervisors Improving retention and completion course for supervisors and administrators.

4 In future, need for attention to issues involved in examination Feature of the doctorate is that, almost everywhere, assessed through an oral examination; Can pose particular issues for students with disabilities, particularly in relation to language and the physiological effects of dealing with stress; Need to embody guidelines in workshops relating to examination.

5 Premia guidelines for supervisors and those who administer the viva Several months before a viva date is arranged, talk through with the candidate what impact the viva will have on them. It is a good idea to include one of the institutions disability advisers in early discussions. Record the outcomes of the meeting, including an outline of the disability-related issues raised by the viva. Talk through with the student what they identify as reasonable adjustments. Reflect on these with academic colleagues and the disability service staff.

6 Premia guidelines for supervisors and those who administer the viva (cont.) Consider: Will the adjustments work? Are they reasonable? Do they create parity? Do they maintain academic standards? Talk through with the student how their personal preparation can be handled: mock viva(s); how they can plan their answers and notate their thesis. How much will this influence the provision of support on the day? Can some of the barriers be surmounted by thorough preparation?

7 Premia guidelines for supervisors and those who administer the viva (cont.) Set in motion practicalities like supporting evidence, accessible rooming, portable loop systems, lighting and arrangement of the furniture; agree who will co-ordinate the arrangements - the examinations office, the disability service or the supervisor. At each point, check back with the student that what is being arranged is necessary and will work.

8 Premia guidelines for supervisors and those who administer the viva (cont.) Agree with the student the wording of personal details to be passed on to the examiners. The examiners should have an opportunity to raise any concerns. Offer to provide examiners with briefing notes, links to awareness materials or in some cases to training. Disability advisers can provide such resources. On the day check all arrangements to ensure that the venue and the process of the viva are accessible.

9 Premia guidelines for supervisors and those who administer the viva (cont.) The chair of the panel has a responsibility to monitor the adjustments and to make sure that the agreed action takes place. Review the viva process in the light of experience. Would you or the panel have done it differently? How does the student view the experience? Have they suggestions about how it could be improved?

10 Premia guidelines for examiners When informed of the type of adjustments needed for a disabled candidate in their viva and the rationale for the adjustments, analyse the practical and academic implications of those adjustments. Relay promptly any concerns about the validity of the adjustments to the viva co-ordinator. Is it clear what is expected of the examiners? Is there sufficient information for the adjustments to be confidently made?

11 Premia guidelines for examiners If further information or advice is needed, contact the person co- ordinating the viva. Specify what more is needed – briefing notes, evidence, detail of what is expected from examiners, briefing session, meeting of the panel prior to the viva. Source:

12 Radical proposal All above presume that the viva with unseen questions is still necessary to examine the PhD; In fact, doctoral students are the only ones in the system who do not gain formative feedback from their examiners; It can be suggested that, for all students, a more appropriate way of examining would be for the examiners to give written feedback before the viva and use the viva to explore this; Would arguably benefit all students, but particularly some with disabilities which can disadvantage them in traditional methods of examination.

13 In relation to academic staff development and disabled research students… Much done, much to be done….


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