What does an inclusive timetable look like in STEM?

Page, Nigel, Forster-Wilkins, Gary, Hughes, Anne and Bonetzky, Mark (2019) What does an inclusive timetable look like in STEM? In: Horizons in STEM Higher Education Conference : Making Connections and Sharing Pedagogy; 03 - 04 July 2019, Kingston-upon-Thames, U.K.. (Unpublished)


Widening participation has encouraged students from a diverse range of backgrounds into university. Yet, this presents challenges to ensuring that there is not only a connected transition but one that is inclusive and positive in which all students are able to engage. None more so is this diversity found than at the post-92 universities, where many students face long commutes from the communities, they live that they did not previously have at school or college. This potentially hinders their ability to fully participate and can adversely affect their sense of belonging. Moreover, timetabling related issues are often found to be the predominant responses in internal student surveys and those of the National Student Survey. In London, these challenges have been compounded by lower scores in NSS/TEF (which have been referred to as the ‘London effect’) and where the prevalence of commuting students likely plays a major role in making it harder for these universities to establish effective learning communities that students feel part of. Our own results have shown a strong negative correlation between the impact of travel time and ‘the timetable works efficiently for me’ (Q16NSS), which was independent of ethnicity or gender. In this workshop, will set the scene by discussing the results of a study involving over 500 undergraduate students across the life sciences, chemistry and pharmacy at Kingston University, which demonstrates the impact of transition and commuting on different student groups. With timetabling playing such a major role in the way students perceive and interact with their learning environment (and especially so in the STEM subjects, where there is a tendency for more complex timetables that have greater number of timetabled activities) understanding the challenges faced in developing more inclusive learning communities becomes even more paramount. This session will involve interactive discussion and activities that will also include perspectives from the Head of Timetabling at Kingston University on the challenges faced in implementing an inclusive curriculum and discussion of overarching university strategies employed to help commuting students from our equality and inclusion team. We will also explore how academic staff can work in partnership to create and influence these processes that can lead to a more inclusive and student-centred timetable by modifying their practices in learning, teaching and assessment and through the development of greater empathy.

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