Hidden Curriculum? New student-staff collaboration is set to shine light on invisible barriers to learning.

In this post Associate Professor Anna Mountford-Zimdars reports on how she is working collaboratively with students as partners to explore the cultural power embedded in the University of Exeter’s very own curriculum. 

Building the team

Our  Incubator project on the hidden curriculum has been off to a fantastic start. We received a lot of interest from students to work on this project – overall, we received 30 applications.  We shortlisted 15 of these and were able to recruit an amazing eight co-researchers. Two of these co-researchers are graduate students and six are undergraduates,  all are in humanities and social science subjects.

Rebecca Munday, a third year sociology student and Welfare Officer for the LGBTQ+ Society, tells us what motivated her to join this project:

“I was attracted to this project particularly because of the emphasis on disabled students and others from diverse cultural backgrounds, and the desire to understand what academic struggles they might face. 

As a disabled student, I care deeply about others in the same position, and seeing that work was being done to acknowledge issues that could be holding back brilliant students – due to their identity – meant a lot to me.

I wanted to be a part of potentially helping a lot of students who deserve extra consideration, and I’m really hopeful that this project can make a difference for them.” 

We have already run two project team Development Workshops with the students. These meetings involved team-building, setting strategic project goals, and developing research skills that our students will use in the next phase of the project.

It was a great co-learning experience – who was teaching whom? I think the academic project leaders learnt as much or more from the experience as the students.  So, this is promising to be a genuinely collaborative projects that will lead academics and students alike to know more at the end.

What next? Focus groups and scenarios

We are developing scenarios on uncovering the hidden curriculum with our students.  We will finish developing these in January and then undertake research with other students and possibly academics.  We have ethical approval in place.

You can watch George Koutsouris, the project PI, give a talk on the hidden curriculum and this project here (drop in a 22min 30secs on the pantopto playback). Enjoy – and let us know if you have any comments or suggestions on the project!

Hidden Curriculum Higher Education

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