Analysis of programme leader's needs regarding diversity management

As a first step in the project an online survey among more than 280 programme leaders from the participating institutions was successfully carried out in March 2018.

Apart from serving as a needs assessment guiding the further steps of the project, i.e. the development of tailor-made training modules, the survey also provided a detailed analysis of programme leaders’ perceptions and attitudes towards inclusion and diversity management.

 

In particular, the following questions were addressed:

  • How do PLs perceive requirements for inclusion and the demands of diversity management? (as a chore, a helpful tool, a waste of time…): Attitudes towards IDM
  • How well supported do they feel they are by their institution? Perceptions of institutional support
  • What dimensions of diversity (for example: language skills, students’ time constraints) are particularly challenging and/or rewarding in their work as PL? Perceived Challenges
  • What approach towards diversity-related matters in teaching, leadership and as a curriculum designer do they take, how and to what extent are they able to integrate certain measures and to what extent do they reflect on student diversity in their work?
  • In what areas (for example: inclusive teaching practices, diversity-sensitive curriculum design, attracting diverse, non-traditional students) do they feel they require further support? Needs Assessment

 

The survey explicitly favoured a shift towards an “anti-categorial” approach in addressing diversity. Instead of perpetuating the same, mostly demographic categories such as age, gender or ethnicity, the focus is more on the actual, concrete challenges faced in dealing with a diverse student body.

The analysis addresses national and disciplinary differences, also taking into account generational effects (testing, for example, the hypothesis that younger PLs will be more open to new, inclusive teaching and assessments practices). Ultimately, the positions on and perceptions of IDM are reflected against PLs‘ personal diverse backgrounds.

The results shed light on PLs practical experiences and expertise and illuminate their stance towards inclusion and diversity management. For example, participating PLs were asked to indicate their level of agreement to such statements as “I am worried that academic standards drop by catering to learners’ different backgrounds and abilities” or “Inclusive practice benefits all students”.

The results serve as an indicator for the status quo regarding the implementation of IDM measures at HEI and contribute to the identification of perceived challenges to be addressed by the further project outputs.

The findings are currently presented at international conferences and are intended for publication in international peer-reviewed journals.

 

For further information and interest in taking the survey at your institution please contact:

Elke Welp-Park: elke.welp-park@fh-ooe.at