Teaching & Learning


Using reverse mentoring to support inclusivity

Antonia Aluko, a student in Greek and Latin, worked with Dr Mazal Oaknin to reverse mentor a group of educators working in Gender Studies to help make their teaching more inclusive.

group of students and staff talking around a table

15 April 2024

I worked with Dr Mazal Oaknin, Associate Professor (Teaching) in Spanish Language and Literature and Gender Studies, to formulate this project in response to our growing understanding of the non-inclusive teaching models in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

Our project “Decolonising Gender Studies Through Reverse Mentoring in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities” took place within the 2023-4 academic year. 

The aim this reverse mentoring project was to inform and equip teaching staff in our faculty on how to be more considerate of the multi-faceted experiences and interests of their students. 

Facilitated by students

We facilitated three sessions on inclusive teaching:

  • Session 1: we explored some of the legislation regarding inclusivity and engagement in the classroom, as well as introducing participants to key scholars that have not always been included in traditional Gender Studies reading lists.
  • Session 2: we focused on the benefits of inclusive teaching for students and how this increased student satisfaction and attainment
  • Session 3: we shared techniques and methods of inclusive teaching so that participants could have inclusive teaching resources to use in their everyday teaching experiences

Together, the group discussed their own personal experiences in classrooms as educators and students. They used these conversations to form opinions and strategies on how to approach the modules that they are teaching with intersectionality, diversity, and inclusion in mind

Each session included a lunch or coffee break where participants had time to interact and socialise. 

Our approach and preparation

Intersectionality was at the forefront of our approach. We ensured that our project answered questions in regard to disability, race, gender, class as well as other protected characteristics.

Over a month, Dr Mazal Oaknin offered training and support to equip me with the tools to facilitate the sessions with confidence and ease.  

I collated a questionnaire for prospective mentees and shortlisted candidates who were selected out of UCL’s teaching staff. I also prepared handouts and presentations for the sessions, to give mentees a sense of an agenda and structure.  


We were delighted with the feedback from staff after the sessions. 100% of the attendees found the sessions very helpful. All attendees all said they would recommend the project to their colleagues and felt they left with practical ideas for making their classes more inclusive.  

Antonia's top tips:

  • Always adapt sessions so participants are shown examples relevant to them. 
  • Use a range of materials, including videos, Mentimeters and interactive activities. 
  • Plan in tasks that get people talking, allowing there to be a space for open communication and discussion. 

Mazal's top tips and how staff can benefit from reverse mentoring:

  • Staff mentees are exposed to new ideas to make modules more diverse and inclusive. Be ready to apply the lessons learnt to the modules you are teaching.
  • Through participative discussions, professional friendships are developed between participants with different levels of seniority. Encourage a social atmosphere in the sessions and if possible offer food and drinks. Time for mingling is a must!
  • Staff mentees gain new perspectives, skills, and insights from the student mentor: Make sure you listen to your mentor. Offer your help, but make sure not to take the lead.
  • Staff mentees become more aware of different biases and more committed to escalating complaints. Show cultural humility, become an ally, acknowledge power imbalances and practice self-reflection.
  • Participants can promote and share good practices with the rest of participants, and also with other colleagues in and beyond UCL. Share the lessons learnt in your departmental meetings, committees, conferences, townhalls.