Equality, diversity and inclusion: learning from laying our cards on the table


  • Matthew Sillence University of East Anglia
  • Amanda Clark University of Hertfordshire
  • Claire Dickerson University of Hertfordshire
  • Hanh Doan University of Hertfordshire
  • Joy Jarvis University of Hertfordshire




equality, diversity and inclusion, cards, conversation, dialogue, HE staff, students


This article presents preliminary findings from a study designed to evaluate, develop and disseminate a cards resource developed to support dialogue and learning about EDI. Experience of creating cards to explore disciplinary thinking at the Universities of Hertfordshire (UH) and East Anglia (UEA) (Jarvis and Clark, 2020) was instrumental in the design. The resource is based on the concept of using ‘serious play’, a ‘special kind of intense learning experience’ (Rieber et al., 1998, p.30, 29, original emphasis) to support reflective, inclusive and transformational learning (Peabody and Noyes, 2017).

Staff and students at UH and UEA who facilitate and attend sessions at which the cards are used are contributing to the research. Before sessions, facilitators are briefed about the guidance, the cards, and possible exercises for using them. At the end of sessions, facilitators and participants are invited to take part in a reflection activity. Facilitators are asked about the context, the activity, observations of participant response to the cards, their learning, the facilitator’s learning, and plans for future EDI activities. Participants are questioned about the role of the cards in their learning and thinking, what was learnt, and how this will impact their interaction with others.

Preliminary findings indicate how participants are thinking about their working contexts, in particular how they initiate conversations around their personal lives, and share stories relating to equality, diversity and inclusivity, in order to make abstract terms more vivid. 

This study responds to a need to develop research-informed resources to use to encourage respectful, inclusive dialogue to address EDI topics with staff and students in higher education. Drawing on the preliminary findings shared here, new terms are being added to the current card set together with a blank card to allow users to generate their own cards; and a new resource comprising EDI stories is being considered.

Author Biographies

Matthew Sillence, University of East Anglia

Matthew Sillence is Associate Professor in Humanities for Postgraduate Education and Training at the University of East Anglia. He works in doctoral education, focusing on the experience of postgraduate researchers and the professional development of academic supervisors.

Amanda Clark, University of Hertfordshire

Amanda Clark is a Student Success and Engagement Senior Advisor in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities, and Education at the University of Hertfordshire. With a focus on wellbeing for learning, she provides pastoral support and academic skills through individual and group tutorials and whole class seminars.

Claire Dickerson, University of Hertfordshire

Claire Dickerson is a Research Fellow at the University of Hertfordshire. Claire’s research interests include pedagogy, professional learning and development and developing policy and practice, particularly through collaboration.

Hanh Doan, University of Hertfordshire

Hanh Doan is a Student Success and Engagement Adviser (BAME/Equality Champion) in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities, and Education at the University of Hertfordshire. She delivers individual, group and class tutorials for academic skills and wellbeing. Hanh is also a Visiting Lecturer and Tutor for Initial Teacher Education.

Joy Jarvis, University of Hertfordshire

Joy Jarvis is Professor of Educational Practice at the University of Hertfordshire. She works with colleagues who are new to teaching in HE and with researchers who are undertaking practice-based doctorates.


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How to Cite

Sillence, M. (2023) “Equality, diversity and inclusion: learning from laying our cards on the table”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (26). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi26.915.

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