“I have to pass this exam, this is my last chance to remain in the program.” There are always few students who find it difficult to navigate the curriculum towards a minimum achievement of a pass grade. No student is a slow learner, only needs sufficient support and encouragement to learn effectively. An inclusive curriculum accommodates all types of learners and provides opportunities to achieve the intended learning goals. In this article, I outline a few strategies that can design an inclusive curriculum. The context is of an undergraduate dental curriculum that requires application of conceptual knowledge, mastery of various skills towards care of a patient.

Identify slow learners (SL): Every program has a predictable number of learners who struggle in few or many components of learning. In this article, such learners are called as slo learners (SL) and not primarily due to any slowness in their learning. The SL can be due to various factors, one among which is the accessibility of the various learning activities in the curriculum. SL are identified as who fail class tests, take more time to finish practical exercises, interact less in group work, require more time in remediation. Many programs have student progress monitoring systems that identify learners who require more support than others. Developing a checklist customized for the curriculum will identify SL and the area that they require learning support.

Empower the SL: The adult learning theory states that adults are internally motivated and self-direct their learning. An adult conversation with the learner in a coaching framework will give autonomy and respect to the learner. A learning plan co-created with the learner with built in milestones will assist the learner take charge of his learning. The learning plan should list all potential problems/obstacles that can derail the plan and solutions to overcome the problems. The plan should account for differences in different learning tasks and have a repertoire of methods to accomplish the tasks. The plan should be reviewed to make changes to its components based on the experience and feedback received by the learner.

Learning outside the timetable: Self learning resources with self-assessments are made available at different levels of difficulty. This allows the learners to try and identify the highest level that can be learned. Skills training also needs flexibility to learn. Use of VR/AR, simulation models, practice on peers, role playing etc can be made available based on the need of learners.

Emotional support: SL can have emotional barriers, identified or not, acknowledged or not. If the SL does not have any diagnosed mental illness, coaching can explore and identify ways to overcome the emotional barriers. For example, asking questions is a strategy for deep learning. Some learners find talking to lecturers difficult and the reasons can be many. The learner can identify strategies to ask questions and find answers, can be by learning to talk freely, using chat, anonymously raising questions. These features should be made available by the school to include all types of learners, who might have varying emotional barriers.

Learning Life Balance: All learners require a healthy life balance. The extra support required for SL should be included in the timetable and not as said in the section on learning outside the timetable. The space given for SL can be used by fast learners to learn more and earn extra credits or honors.

Conclusion All learners should have a pleasant learning journey to reach and achieve their learning goals. The curriculum should be reviewed based on feedback from learners to make it accessible and effective for all learners. An inclusive curriculum is an ongoing learning process important for learners. 

    I write blogs on Curriculum topics that empower students in their learning journey. If you want to subscribe to email alerts for new content, click here. All blog posts available here.





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