This project wishes to discuss inclusivity as it becomes of larger relevance to society. In the current times when for many it has become easier to stay informed, unfair treatment of persons due to them identifying with a specific group or culture etc., is turning out to be less and less tolerable. As the ability to learn from almost anywhere in the world at any time advances, and the freedom to voice opinions through social media platforms exist, knowledge of social issues grows as does the relevance and need for inclusion.
This project investigates the research question of what it means to be considered marginalised or othered in Irish society and of what importance does the role of inclusion plays for third level students in Ireland.
Let’s Talk… is a podcast-based project that aims to highlight the importance of inclusion for students who identify with groups that are marginalised or othered within Irish society. After analysing past journal articles and case studies on the topics of inclusion and marginalisation, along with independent research, the project put together a podcast series, social media and website to share what we found and educate fellow students and tutors on how inclusion is important towards the success of third level students in Ireland.
Aims & Objectives
Our objective is to connect with fellow college students in Ireland and to share information with them that is easily accessible and digestible. The project hopes that by raising awareness and educating on the topic of inclusion, it will help to improve inclusivity for those students who feel marginalised or othered in Irish society.
For this project, a number of studies were looked at to determine whether or not inclusivity is important within society and the success of students, and what groups or people can be considered marginalised. To answer the latter multiple papers such as those by UKAidDirect (2017), Crowley (2020) and Dunne (2020) suggested that a marginalised group or person includes anyone prevented from fully participating in social, economic, and political life such as people of colour, the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities and more. Highlighting which individuals fall under the definition of marginalised was vital to exploring the role of inclusion further in this project as it led us down a path of understanding what papers and which individuals would be most appropriate to look at.
Other articles clearly suggested the importance of inclusion within society as Gataveckaite (2020), Jouavel (2019) and Hollard (2019) report on respectively the topics of Black Lives Matter, Irish travellers and the LGBTQ+ community being protested and discussed recently in Irish society.
In terms of how inclusion is important towards the success of students, Martinez-Acosta and Favero (2021) discuss the importance of inclusion throughout student and leadership roles in third level education. To do this, new technologies and social media have been reported as being important tools for the current student demographic, as noted in the studies by Liu (2010), eLearningIndustry (2016) and TeachThought (2020). These platforms allow students to engage in asynchronous learning, that is learning on the go, which is noted by Rehman and Fatima (2020) as being an important skill in today's world. Benefits of this learning are also discussed by Jena and Gupta (2019), and support the Let’s Talk… project’s conclusion to mediate content using online platforms and through podcast format.
Podcasts are further seen as an accessible format for students as individuals “who are using these devices on a regular basis for music and should have few technical difficulties or learning curves.” (Lum, 2006 cited in Van Slyke 2008, p1680), making it an appropriate choice for this project. This idea is additionally seen in the book Social Software and Web 2.0 Technology Trends as Deans (2019) examines how podcasting is a new technology that can act as “an educational instrument, podcasting will continue to make a bigger impact as society continues to grasp the full utility that this application holds.”(ibid). The book highlights that the opportunities with podcasts as an educational tool are endless and very beneficial. The praising of podcasts as an educational tool is also discussed by Herrington (2005) and Norris (20212), who both define the format as being accessible and easily understood.
Each piece of literature examined directed the Let’s Talk… project into a format that allowed it to achieve its goals of communicating the importance of inclusion within third level education using the most appropriate methods.
Findings from the case study and journal article analysis found that there is a demand for research on inclusion. The current studies show diversity and representation as important within society and news articles show that more spaces are becoming available for those who identify with marginalised or othered groups.
The survey results, while there was a bias towards third level institutes in the east, show that participants strongly agreed at 99% that inclusion is important within third level education. Though the majority had an understanding of the definition of marginalised group, 15.2% were unaware what this meant, indicating that further education is needed on the topic. Of those who understood the term, some examples that were selected falling under the marginalised bracket included people of colour, those with a disability, LGBTQ+ community and the travelling community with over 70% of participants selecting this answer. The least selected answers were mature students and women with both receiving under 50%. These answers influenced the project's selection of interviewees for the project podcast.
While 52.9% of participants identified as being part of a marginalised or othered group, due to under half not being a part of a marginalized group affects the reliability of some data retrieved in certain follow up questions which are tailored to the experiences and knowledge of participants solely from a marginalized group.
When discussing opinions related to specific marginalised groups, the survey saw the response that a majority of participants disagree with the statement that women are treated equally within Irish society, and that 78% believe in the need for greater change regarding the representation and inclusion of other ethnicities within the Irish education system. When asked about students living with a disability, 82% of participants were of the opinion that accessibility within third level institutes can dictate the course of study for these students. Data from the survey shows that the majority of students who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community feel represented and safe within third-level education. These statistics were of interest to the study as they influenced the questions then asked to interviewees so as to gauge a greater insight.
Question 23 asked participants about their experience with inclusion in college. This question received 52 responses of various answers, some felt that they were treated equally, others felt they were treated equally but no societies dedicated to their group whereas others felt excluded and had a bad college experience as a result. When asked if any platforms discourage inclusivity, the majority of participants typed in a form of a social media app. This piece of data helped form questions about inclusivity surrounding social media for each of the interviews.
This survey helped further the secondary research which was gathered through online articles and journals and helped us find information from the perspective of people within the target audience demographic. All the information gathered within the survey was used to help develop questions for each of the podcast episodes and ensured the topics covered by interviewees were of interest to the audience.
Interviews took place after the completion of case study analysis and the survey. Each of the four interviews provided a personal insight to experiences relating to inclusion in colleges in Ireland, with all of which concluding that creating dialogue is the first step to making third level institutes more inclusive spaces. The four topic of feminism, living with a disability, lgbtq+ and ethnicity and equality, when discussed in relation to third level education found that there is still issues relating to the inclusion of these groups. By hearing the perspective of individuals part of these groups, the project showed how important inclusion is to each of these individuals and how it makes a positive difference to their everyday lives.
While it was seen through the project research that the area of inclusion is more commonly being investigated and initiatives are being created surrounding this cause, Let’s Talk… has proven itself to be a unique project within the area. Little has been done to promote and educate on the importance of inclusion for third level students, specifically in Ireland, so this project fills the gap. Let’s Talk… acts as a hub of information on a variety of topics relating to inclusion and does the work to open up important dialogue. The project itself showcases the different perspectives from a broad range of participants and is important to the cause of inclusivity.
Overall, the Let’s Talk… project has been successful at discussing and educating on the topic on inclusivity. Throughout the past academic year the project team has worked together to gather the information on how inclusion is important to students studying at third level within Ireland and has achieved its aim at opening up the conversation on this issue.
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Discover how this project came to be and get introduced to each of the team members. Learn what role each of our members have to play in bringing the project to life and find out why we are passionate about educating on the importance of inclusion.Learn More
The Let's Talk.. podcast is a mini-series which discusses specific topics surrounding inclusivity as a student in Ireland. Hear voices and experiences from a variety of people and join the conversation by interacting with us on our social media and here on our website.Listen Here