Diversity in teaching moves beyond the principle of equal opportunity which ensures that no student should be disadvantaged by curriculum content or teaching and assessment methods. It capitalises on the diversity of the student body and sees this as a strength rather than a weakness. The University of Edinburgh states “Diversity aims to recognise, respect and value people’s differences to contribute and realise their full potential by promoting an inclusive culture for all staff and students”
When considering diversity in teaching, account may need to be taken of race, age, religion and belief, gender, parenthood, sexual orientation and disability. This is not an exhaustive list but does indicate some of the more common aspects of the subject. Teaching for diversity requires appropriate choice of content, appropriate behaviour of the teacher, and appropriate management of student behaviour.
Although content in chemistry is rarely problematic from an equal opportunities point of view, it is more difficult to make it diverse. Ideally one would have a balance of examples in terms of race and gender but the subject does not always lend itself to this. However, instructors should be aware to possibilities for including diverse content when they occur.
Management of diverse classrooms goes beyond ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to contribute. Appropriate encouragement should be given to those who might be more reluctant for whatever reason. Laboratory work clearly poses particular challenges for students with disabilities.
Classroom management requires instructors to be vigilant and to challenge any inappropriate behaviour from students which may result in diverse classrooms. This has to be done in whatever way is most comfortable for the instructor, and may require a certain degree of education and awareness raising.