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Guidelines/Learning Modules

Below, you will find a collection of texts with tips and suggestions as well as practical exercises on various aspects of diversity-sensitive teaching. They are intended to support you in designing a diversity-sensitive and diversity-promoting teaching-learning environment.

It is recommended to work through the checklists for diversity-sensitive teaching for preparation. Ideally, this will show you, which teaching topics and areas still have potential for improving your teaching.

A very good introduction to the topic of "Diversity-sensitve teaching and learning" is also provided by the essay of the same name by Linde and Auferkorte-Michaelis (2014), which you can download here (pdf, only available in German).

In addition, we have compiled a document in which you will find further tips for teachers compiled in a clear tabular form (pdf).

Anti-discrimination

Discrimination is indeed an everyday experience in the university context and does not only concern access to the university. Students also experience discrimination in the course of their studies and in their everyday university life. Examples include sexual harassment by fellow students, racist remarks by teachers, or the denial of reasonable arrangements for people with disabilities in exams. Experiences of discrimination are a reality not recognized sufficiently in its complexity. In order to reduce discrimination, a corresponding professional attitude is needed at different levels - also in teaching.

As a teacher, you can deal with different forms of discrimination and reflect on and re-evaluate your own teaching practice and any situations you may have experienced in your own teaching, respectively. You can also deal with the rights of victims of discrimination and inform yourself about the contact points that provide advice in the event of discrimination. In addition, you can try to deal sensitively with experiences of discrimination in everyday teaching and take the experience of a person who feels discriminated against seriously and look for options for action together with him or her.

Tips and Links

You can use the other contents of this toolbox to examine your own teaching.

An analytical and legal overview is provided in the guideline "Protection against Discrimination at Universities" by the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency (only available in German).

In the event of sexual harassment and stalking, the University of Freiburg has published a guideline for action, which you can view here. It also provides details for the University contact points in the event of discrimination: the Equal Opportunities Officer, the Staff Equal Opportunity Representative, the Head of the Human Resources Department and the Staff Council.

Accessibility

Students with disabilities or chronic illnesses have specific needs. This is not just a matter of architectural accessibility and disability-friendly equipment in buildings, but of a wealth of different topics. They should also be given appropriate consideration in courses and examinations. Moreover, it is also important to ensure barrier-free communication and access to information.

The University of Freiburg strives for equal and independent participation in studies and student life for students with disabilities or chronic illness. The respective legal basis includes, among others, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Article 24), the General Act on Equal Treatment and the Act on Equal Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. For this reason, it offers support with various information and advising services to help students cope with their studies. Students with mobility, visual, or hearing disabilities are addressed as well as students with chronic physical or with mental illnesses.

Tips and Links

Detailed information about the support and advising services offered by the University of Freiburg can be found on the website of the Representative for Students with Disabilities or Chronic Illness.

Students can also use the website to borrow equipment from the assistive technology pool that has been available since March 2017. The following aids are available: a powerful laptop and special programs that allow visually impaired students to enlarge texts and have them read aloud, a mobile camera system, and a Braille display that displays texts in Braille and makes them tactile.

A general overview of the topic of accessibility in studying and teaching can be found on the website of the German National Association for Student Affairs (Deutsches Studentenwerk).

Advising and support

Students from abroad who are used to a different higher education system; students with disabilities who have questions about disadvantage compensation; students with children who need more flexible study arrangements: They all have a need for comprehensive, low-threshold advising and support services. To be effective, this advising and support must address students' individual requirements and needs. Teachers who advise their students therefore need gender and diversity competence.

In the context of courses, it is crucial to make the advising possibilities transparent and accessible for the students. Communicating information about office hours and contact options - directly in the course or between individual sessions - creates a clear information structure and makes it easier for students to get in touch.

On the hand, when students address their personal prerequisites and/or difficulties, information about the central advising facilities within the University is indispensable. On the other hand, students can already be supported by actively listening to them and, if necessary, jointly seeking solutions.

Tips and Links

It is important to know the advising and service offices of your respective faculty and to refer students to them.

In addition, you will find numerous links to advising institutions and contact persons on diversity-relevant topics at the University of Freiburg here on the Gender and Diversity Portal under the heading "Contact Points".

Curriculum Development

"Inclusive curriculum design includes the design of degree programs, modules, and courses not only in terms of learning outcomes, content, didactics, and examinations, but also in terms of how all students are included with their needs, interests, and goals" (Hockings 2010, cited in Linde/Auferkorte-Michaelis 2014, p. 157).

The selection of course content has a clear impact on the inclusion or exclusion of students. If, for example, only a German or male-oriented view of a discipline is taught, other perspectives or traditions are thereby disregarded. This way, the variety of approaches that exist in a subject remains invisible. Because treating a subject from only one perspective has an impact on the way students see it.

If female students feel that women are not featured in their subject or scientific discipline (e.g. in economics), or if students with a different cultural background gain the impression that a disciplinary culture is only designed for Western European perspectives (e.g. in the social sciences), this will soon have an impact on their motivation and self-esteem.

Not only the selection of content (theories etc.), but also the selection of case studies, literature, and other sources/materials plays a crucial role in this context.

Tips and Links

The web pages of the Center for Teaching and Learning contain a comprehensive theme portal that provides information on teaching concepts, course design, and alternative forms of teaching and learning, among other things.

Internationalization

Many international students study at the University of Freiburg, be it in the context of a semester abroad or a complete degree program in Freiburg. International students are often reduced to a cultural difference compared to German students. However, this falls short, because after all, the latter are just as different and have often already had individualistic experiences that go beyond the national context.

The internationalization of teaching offers students the opportunity to prepare for their future in a globalized world. At the same time, it is an opportunity for teachers to reflect on their own teaching and make it more inclusive. The following suggestions for your teaching might be helpful in meeting the needs of an increasingly international student body:

  • Encouraging interaction among students: Creating interactive arrangements with respect to learning objectives that ensure discussion and exchange among students.
  • Showing empathy and your own willingness to learn: Developing yourself as a teacher through the experiences and suggestions of the students. This also includes dealing reflexively with institutional barriers and one's own stereotypes.
  • Trans-nationalizing the curriculum: Thinking outside the national box of one's own discipline and, for example, examining the global interconnections in the history of one's own scientific discipline.


Tips and Links

Information and suggestions on the topic of internationalization can be found on the pages of the International Office.

An overview and more concrete recommendations can be found in the study "Hochschullehre im multikulturellen Lernraum" by the DAAD-Akademie (2015, only available in German).

Among others, the Language Teaching Center (SLI) supports the internationalization of teaching with two projects:

The EMI team advises and supports teachers in enhancing and improving their communicative skills for teaching in multilingual and multicultural contexts.

Among other things, the kosmic sub-project "Interculturality and non-traditional Students“ aims to promote intercultural competencies among students and teachers.

Exams/Inclusive Assessment

"Inclusive examinations aim to design goal-appropriate and fair examination methods and procedures, so that all students can demonstrate their full performance potential" (Linde/Auferkorte-Michaelis 2014, p. 151).*)

In very few cases there is one correct, fair form of examination. On the contrary, different examination formats are more suitable than others, depending on the individual. However, by offering different exam formats, you provide all students with the opportunity to choose the exam format that suits their learning style and exam type. This involves an increased amount of work, but it contributes to a significant improvement in teaching, an increased quality of exams, and thus a high level of student satisfaction.

Irrespective of this, students with disabilities or chronic illnesses are subject to the regulations enshrined in the State University Law (LHG) and the corresponding examination regulations. Affected students must be granted individual so-called disadvantage compensation in consultation with the lecturers. This may involve, for example, extended time limits, the use of technical aids, or a different form of examination (e.g. an oral colloquium instead of a written examination). Such an examination modification or a waiver of a special performance requirement does not constitute preferential treatment, but ensures equal opportunities for students with disabilities.

*) "Inclusive Assessment refers to the design and use of fair and effective assessment methods and practices that enable all students to demonstrate to their full potential what they know, understand and can do. " Hockings, C., Inclusive learning and teaching in higher education: a synthesis of research, York 2010, p. 2.

Tips and Links

Information on disadvantage compensation at the University of Freiburg can be found on the website of the Representative for Students with Disabilities or Chronic Illnesses.

A concrete and comprehensive collection of videos and guidelines on inclusive assessment can be found on the website of the University of Plymouth.

Language

Language - spoken, written, physical or visual - plays a central role in university teaching. It serves to convey knowledge and to discuss course content and enables us to communicate with each other (about ideas, values, norms, views, etc.). Language, or what we read, see, or hear, thus determines a large part of what we learn and understand in our daily (university) life and what we perceive as reality. Thus, it has a significant influence on our thoughts and actions.

Depending on which words, terms or images are chosen - whether consciously or unconsciously - language can also have exclusionary, stigmatizing, or discriminatory effects. It can reproduce existing stereotypes or fuel (new) prejudices. Language discrimination can be explicit, as in swear words, sexist images, or in racist or derogatory statements towards people.

However, linguistic discrimination can also happen implicitly, by systematically not mentioning groups of people or by speaking of them not as people but as "objects". Examples include statements such as: "typically male/female", "being confined to the wheelchair", "the new girl at his side" or "the black continent".

Diversity-sensitive language aims to counteract such discrimination or stigmatization. There is no one right solution for this. Rather, depending on the (teaching) context, different options are available for creative language use that addresses everyone.

Tips and Links

The Equal Opportunities Office of the University of Freiburg has developed a guideline that provides suggestions and tips for using gender-sensitive language.

The Gender and Diversity Office offers workshops on the topic of "Inclusive Language" at regular intervals. More detailed information on these workshops is available here on the Gender and Diversity Portal, and on the pages of the Internal Further Training and Continuing Education Program.

Exercises

You can use the following exercises in your course. Most of them are especially suitable at the beginning of a semester to get to know the (diversity of) students in your course. Furthermore, the exercises offer the opportunity for students to get to know each other and to raise awareness of diversity issues.

This exercise allows to approach, explore, and casually experiment with the topic of "differences and similarities."

With the help of this exercise, the unequal distribution of rights and opportunities – based on gender, ethnic and social origin, skin color, appearance, age, health, etc. - and their effects in everyday (university) life can be elaborated.

This exercise is about recognizing your own attributions and experiencing what it is like to receive attributions in a team or group setting.

Participants become aware of their own behaviors and patterns in dealing with differences, with the foreign, and with attributions.

This exercise allows participants to experience the mutual interaction and resulting connections of people in their complex environment.

This exercise is suitable for starting a course (seminar, tutorial, etc.). Looking at differences and their effects on the whole is exciting for all participants and arouses curiosity.

These exercises are suitable for the beginning of a course or to make it less monotonous.