Diversity in teaching

The student body of higher education institutions is diverse in many ways. The students’ paths alone – how and at which stage of their life they have ended up in higher education – are very different from each other. In addition to this, many students are also members of different minorities, such as ethnic, sexual orientation, gender or linguistic minorities. According to Opiskelijabarometri 2016 (Student Barometer), 25% of students feel they are a part of one or more minorities.

Taking diversity into account in education is important not only in the content of teaching, but also with regard to teaching arrangements, guidance and other interactions. In this context, diversity does not refer to the traditional thinking of different learning styles (visual, auditive, kinaesthetic) as this is considered to be an outdated and partly even mythical notion (see, e.g. Niemivirta, 2015; Virkkula, 2018). Instead, paying attention to the diversity of students may be related to potential mental or physical limitations, learning challenges, ethnic background, language, previous skills or the student’s life situation. In a wide perspective diversity covers aspects from pedagogical solutions to individual arrangements and methods of teaching.

The themes of accessibility and multiculturalism are discussed further on their own subpages of this website.

Positive discrimination

Positive discrimination or positive special treatment refers to actions improving a certain group’s status and conditions, which are necessary to secure true equality for the group in question. The notion of positive special treatment was introduced in legislation in 1999 in connection with the constitutional reform. Based on the act’s explanatory memorandum, its purpose was to attempt to secure both traditional legal non-discrimination and true social equality. (Non-discrimination Act 1325/2014.)

Learning difficulties

University students may also suffer from a variety of learning difficulties. One of the most common ones is dyslexia: a reading and writing disorder. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, may also cause extra challenge in studies, similarly to Asperger syndrome.

These problems often go unnoticed as people find it hard to believe that a student admitted to higher education could have a learning difficulty. Many students are so called diverse learners, however, and they have to work extra hard to learn and may even need support or special arrangements in their studies. In the context of studying, accessibility means that students are guaranteed equal opportunities for studying as far as possible, despite their learning difficulties or disability-induced limitations.

Inclusion

Inclusion means the right of disabled people to be included in shared communities instead of being placed into their own, separate service systems. The objective of education is to meet the needs of different learners, and this benefits all students, whether they have a diagnosed disability or not.

Early caring

The Tampere higher education community wishes to ensure the well-being of both its personnel and its students. However, the teachers and other personnel offering counseling or guidance are also responsible for student well-being. To facilitate this, an early caring model is applied. Its purpose is to help notice potential issues and intervene in them as well as guide the student to further support services, if necessary.

More information for staff

Saavutettava opiskelu korkeakoulussa -materiaalipankki (in Finnish)
Early support model for students
Treatment Referral of Substance Abusing Students

Elsewhere in TLC

Teacher tutoring
Pedagogical design
Laws, regulations and rules

Links checked 22.2.2021