Degree Attainment Gaps and New Research at Loughborough University

In this blog-post for the Centre for Academic Practice, Nuzhat Fatima, LSU Welfare and Diversity Executive Officer, discusses the Black and Minority Ethnic student attainment gap in UK higher education institutions, and introduces a new research project at Loughborough entitled ‘Experiences in the Classroom and Beyond: The Role of Race and Ethnicity’

What is the ‘degree attainment gap’?

The ‘degree attainment gap’ is often described as a national crisis within the education system. The Equality Challenge Unit describes the degree attainment gap as “the difference in ‘top degrees’ – a First or 2:1 classification – awarded to different groups of students. The largest divergence can be found between BME (Black Minority and Ethnic Students) and White British students. Leaving an education institution with lower grades has lifetime effects; this limits BME students into pursuing a potential post-graduate education where the requirements generally tend to be a 2:1 or above. Most graduate employers will require a 2:1 or above also.

The problem arises as many BME students enter university with the same grade classification as their white counterparts. However, BME students leave university with significantly lower grades in comparison to their white peers.

“In 2012/13, 57.1% of UK-domiciled BME students received a top degree when compared with 73.2% of White British students’ – an overall gap of 16.1%” (ECU).

Homogenising all minority students is unhelpful as they are a diverse group with differing outcomes. For example, Black and Caribbean students are the worst affected group at a national level. When observing the national breakdown of the BME category (2012/13), it can be seen that Black and Caribbean students are the most affected ethnic group. Students from Pakistani, Chinese and Indian backgrounds are also affected.

  • 4%of Indian students were awarded a top degree (a degree attainment gap of 8.8%)
  • 9%of Chinese students (a gap of 9.3%)
  • 2%of Pakistani students (a gap of 19.0%)
  • 8%of Black Other students (a gap of 29.4%)” (ECU).

A reliance on a meritocratic model to understand academic achievement has meant that the BME attainment gap was, and sometimes still is, framed as a problem caused by a limitation in the students themselves. This is also known as a deficit model. However, the attainment gap would not be a national problem if it were a meritocratic issue only. This raises the question of whether there are conditions within our educational institutions that negatively impact BME students both culturally and academically, and which contribute to the existence of the attainment gap.

Potential contributors

There is no sole contributor to the attainment gap. Multiple factors contribute to students being unable to reach their potential and attain a top degree. It can be due to geographical location, institutional insensitivity towards culture, a Euro-centric based curriculum, methods of assessment, and experiences of racism which go beyond the classroom and have a lasting impact on student life. Additionally, social interactions within clubs and societies can also impact on academic performance. These points are often dismissed as generalisations that potentially impact all students; however, to tackle the BME attainment gap one must consider how these factors work together in a negative way to disproportionately affect BME students.

What can be done? A way of tackling this is institution specific research, which does not homogenise institutions and lived experiences. Such research can become a catalyst for tackling the BME attainment gap on a structural and an institutional level.

What is Loughborough proposing to do?

 Loughborough prides itself on being an inclusive university and is aiming to tackle this national problem on an institutional level! Together with brilliant academics such as Dr Line Nyhagen (Reader in Sociology & School Champion Athena SWAN) and Dr James Esson (Lecturer in Human Geography), I have contributed to the proposal for a newly funded student led pedagogical research project. This research project will be carried out so that we as an institution can further our progress towards making education inclusive by raising standards and aspirations of all!

The project will examine BME and other students’ own learning experiences at Loughborough University in relation to the curriculum content and more broadly, including their take-up of individual consultations with lecturers, relationships with peers, and take-up of opportunities that can enhance their learning experience (e.g., student rep positions; student ambassador jobs).

I want to congratulate Loughborough University for putting diversity on the agenda and I am thrilled to have support from the University and the above academics who are committed to learning from the experiences of students in order to deliver the best education possible.

Information taken from the ECU: http://www.ecu.ac.uk/guidance-resources/student-recruitment-retention-attainment/student-attainment/degree-attainment-gaps/

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Nuzhat Fatima has been the Welfare and Diversity Executive Officer at Loughborough Students Union for 2016/17

CAP Forum: Research-informed curriculum design: successes and challenges

Our most recent CAP Forum focused on research-informed curriculum design. As a recent Research-informed Teaching Award winner, Dr Line Nyhagen took us through some of her wonderful successes and some of the challenges she has faced in four specific innovative teaching practices which were designed to enhance student engagement.

  • The first is a field visit to a local mosque in order to allow her students to understand ‘lived religion’, where she emphasised that it is important that the pedagogic intention of any field visit is clear. Previously, there had been no field visits in the Social Sciences Department, and so she sought advice from the Geography department on the basics and reflected on what went well and what she could improve after the first year of running the trip. The trip was very successful; the feedback from participating students was overwhelmingly positive, alongside a post on the department newsfeed talking of its success. However, the main challenge she faced was that the attendance on the trip was quite low. The following year, Line took on board feedback on that particular issue and added organised transport and included an assessment element related to the trip that was worth 10%, which dramatically increased the attendance.
  • The second example discussed was a ‘Coursework Topic Approval Forum’ which was used instead of a list of essays from students to select from. It involved students having to use a forum on Learn to get approval and feedback for their coursework title which could be about any topic they were interested in on the module. This fostered the sharing of ideas and allowed transparent formative feedback to be given to all students. Although this had many successes, it generated quite a lot of additional work for Line, and made a small proportion of students uncomfortable. Upon reflection, this year Line has chosen to produce both a list of essay titles and allow students to choose their own titles if they wish, nonetheless they must use the new general coursework forum for any questions related to coursework so that formative feedback continues to be shared among all students. A lot of the discussion afterwards focused on this area and suggested ideas such as having the group as a whole come up with the list of questions and queried why it was online and not in person in a session which was agreed would also work.
  • Line also spoke about ‘Memory Work’ as a method to teach gender and other identities, which is a research method she has used in her own research. This encouraged students to see themselves as both the researcher and the research subject, and allowing students to feel an ownership of the material being used to teach as it was generated by themselves. This in turn increased student engagement. This topic also generated lots of questions and discussion about how the technique could be applied to teaching in other areas, for example as an aid to reflecting on group assignments.
  • The final topic discussed was her ‘In-class Policy Awareness Event’ which she used as a new technique for increasing student engagement this year. She did this by trying to find topics directly relevant to her students, and this year chose sexual harassment policy due to the recent focus of the NUS on the topic, as well as it being one of her students’ dissertation topics last year. She took the students through the University’s Zero Tolerance policy, conducted research in-class using a quick SurveyMonkey questionnaire with results immediately available in the classroom. She also asked her students to come up with campaign ideas and proposals for increasing awareness, which was an identified problem. As an unintended consequence of this session, Line was able to take these suggestions to the Athena SWAN Team in her the school, which she leads. She has also shared the class findings and policy proposals with the Director of Student Services.

If you have any questions for Line about her experiences please feel free to contact her at l.nyhagen@lboro.ac.uk or take a look at her twitter at @Line_Nyhagen. Alternatively, if you have any ideas of topics you would like to deliver on or hear about for future CAP Forums, please let us know by emailing Dr Glynis Perkin at G.Perkin@lboro.ac.uk or take a look at our Twitter at @LboroCAP.

 

Further Information:

The department’s newsfeed about the mosque visit:

http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/socialsciences/news-events/2017/leicester-central-mosque-march-2017.html

A blog post related to Dr Line Nyhagen’s research:

http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/socialsciences/news-events/2017/leicester-central-mosque-march-2017.html

Dr Line Nyhagen’s staff webpage:

http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/socialsciences/staff/line-nyhagen/

Developing and Promoting Learning and Employability Through Blogging

Marco Bohr and Alexandre Christoyannopoulos, recipients of a 2016 Teaching Innovation Award (TIA), explain what they hope to achieve with their project.

What did you want to achieve?

What potential roles can blogging have in Higher Education? How can it enhance learning and the broader student experience? What legal and reputational issues need bearing in mind? How can blogging enhance research dissemination? The aim of this project is to consider such questions and thereby explore the potential for blogging in and beyond the university.

The project aims to consider five key areas:

  1. blogs in relation to student learning, academic teaching and assessment;
  2. legal, ethical, copyright and intellectual property issues in relation to such blogs;
  3. student blogs for self-promotion;
  4. the impact of blogs on student employability;
  5. how academics can use blogs for research dissemination and/or public engagement.

How will you gather this information?

The project involves gathering information on current examples of the use of blogs to enhance student employability across HE. Later in the process, we will organise focus groups with Loughborough students to reflect on when best to introduce blogs in teaching. The project will also involve expanding the content of Socratic Hive, a blog related to two Loughborough modules on ‘politics and religion’ and ‘state, violence and terrorism’. By the end of the project (spring-summer 2018), we aim to disseminate lessons learnt through a one-day event and a research paper.

CAP Forum: Embedding Research in Teaching

This year’s first CAP Forum focused on the topic of embedding your research in your teaching. As a result, we invited one of this year’s Research-informed Teaching Award winners to present on how and why she embeds her research into her teaching, and what her research is about. In 2002, Dr Cheryl Travers set up a module to fill what she perceived as a gap in Learning and Teaching from her experience of being an academic occupational psychologist. This gap was the extent to which the SBE finalists have developed their ‘soft’ skills in their final year after their placement.

Her research is about her ‘Reflective goal setting model’ and the module puts this into practice- asking students to reflect on themselves, set goals, use the ‘power of written reflection’ to measure the impact of those goals. She asks the students to write a diary which for the first time this year will take the form of an electronic portfolio thanks to her new innovative system for students to log their thoughts.

The discussion that followed focused mostly on her actual pedagogic research, and how other disciplines can apply her reflective goal setting model, from Arts students to STEM students, and even students wishing to learn a language while at University.

Overall, it was an enjoyable afternoon with lively discussion, an abundance of food, and a wonderful talk by Dr Cheryl Travers. The session was lecture captured, which you can find here, and you can also find Cheryl’s papers on her research around goal setting, as well as her recent TEDx talk that she delivered at Loughborough Students’ Union below.

Dr Travers’ papers – 

Self reflection, growth goals and academic outcomes: A qualitative study

Unveiling a reflective diary methodology for exploring the lived experiences of stress and coping

Awards Celebrate Teaching Excellence at Loughborough University

The annual Research-informed Teaching Awards (RiTAs) and the Teaching Innovation Awards (TIAs) celebrate excellence in innovative and research informed practice across the University.

The awards are designed to reaffirm the University’s commitment to recognise staff and students who demonstrate high levels of achievement in both research and teaching.

The Research-informed Teaching Awards reward academic staff who have made an outstanding contribution to the promotion of research-informed teaching at the University.Learning and teaching conference (2)

The Teaching Innovation Awards fund student and staff ideas to enhance teaching and learning at Loughborough. This year, £23,000 has been awarded to fund nine different projects.

The recipients of this year’s teaching awards are:

RiTAs

Dr Line Nyhagen, Department of Social Sciences, School of Social, Political and Geographical Sciences

Awarded for her expertise in curriculum design which clearly demonstrates the ways in which she forges links between her research and her teaching.

Dr Cheryl Travers, Director of Executive Education, School of Business and Economics

For her expertise in pedagogical research which has had a major impact on students over a sustained period of time.

Dr Heike Jons, Department of Geography, School of Social, Political and Geographical Sciences

For her expertise in curriculum design which enables her students to benefit directly from her research over a range of modules.

TIAs

Jo Bullard, Department of Geography and Shung Hua Yang, Computer Science

Using Augmented Reality to Improve Geomorphological Understanding

Karisa Krcmar, Counselling and Disability Service and Lauren Sherar, School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

An exploration of the benefits of active learning strategies for Loughborough University students with neurodiversity

Ella-Mae Hubbard and Joshua Goodman, Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

Understanding and exploiting threshold concepts

David Kerr and Anthony Sutton, Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

Remotely Accessed Laboratory Suite (RALS) using the Internet of Things

Thomas Steffen, Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering

Gamification for Learning in Electrotechnology

Sweta Ladwa, School of Science

A ‘Blueprint’ for Peer-Based and Collaborative Learning in a Teaching Laboratory

Lauren Sherar, School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Experiential and interactive learning in the teaching area of Physical Activity and Health of Children

George Torrens, Loughborough Design School and Simon Downs, School of the Arts, English and Drama

Development of a multi-disciplinary, self-learning led resource for practice based students supporting training in research methods, design thinking & decision-making

Alexandre Christoyannopoulos, Politics, History and International Relations and Marco Bohr, School of the Arts, English and Drama

Development and dissemination of an informed resource on professional blogging for students and staff

All award winners will be formally announced by the Vice Chancellor and Pro Vice Chancellor Teaching Learning and Teaching Conference on 16 June.

The event will take place at the West Park Teaching Hub where this year’s TIA winners will be exhibiting posters outlining their projects. There will also be the opportunity to explore practice ideas through workshops run by successful TIA applicants from previous years.

To book onto the conference, please email cap@lboro.ac.uk

TIA Winner Lee Campbell’s article, ‘TECHNOPARTICIPATION: Intermeshing performative pedagogy and interruption’, appears in BST Journal

technoparticipationAn article written by Lee Campbell (School of the Arts), entitled ‘Technoparticipation: Intermeshing pedagogy and interruption’ has been published in the latest edition of  Body, Space, Technology.

The article looks at various aspects of e-learning and focuses on Skype as a virtual technological platform, with the scope of ‘generating innovation in terms of subverting the bog standard presentation format of a lecture’. Skype as interruption is examined in order to promote the positive aspects of interruptive elements within performative pedagogy.

Research was enabled by a Teaching Innovation Award which Lee Campbell received; the Award granted him a funded period of research to explore Skype’s potential as a technological social media tool with pedagogic value.

To read the article, click here.

Loughborough Academics Publish Research in Prestigious Journal

2010 Teaching Innovation Awards winners, Dr Lawrence Leger and Dr Karligash Glass (Kenjegalieva), have recently published their work in Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education.  Their research article, ‘What if best practice is too expensive? Feedback on oral presentations and efficient use of resources’, suggests that ‘less resource-intensive [teaching and learning] methods need not compromise learning outcomes’. [1]

To read their article, click on the link below:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2015.1109054

[1] Lawrence A. Leger, Karligash Glass, Paraskevi Katsiampa, ShiboLiu & Kavita Sirichand (2015): What if best practice is too expensive? Feedback on oral presentations and efficient use of resources, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, DOI: 10.1080/02602938.2015.1109054, p.1.

E-learning Champion Showcase

Eshowcase2

Five members of academic staff from the School of Business and Economics (SBE) have been working over the last year on individual E-learning projects.

These E-learning champions chose a particular area linked to one of their taught modules, for which they wanted to develop the appropriate technology to engage further with their students.

The projects this year were:

Maxine Clarke – To provide an online facility for students to upload information (articles/newspaper articles/videos/etc.) on a weekly basis and to provide a written summary of their submission. To enable online ‘marking’ of this submission as this will constitute the students’ coursework element for this module.

Kai-Hong Tee – To improve students’ effectiveness in their learning via a self-assessed practice questions made available on LEARN

Simona Rasciute – To introduce an interactive problem/exercise solving feature into Learn.

Dan Sage – To encourage students to read beyond lecture notes and the textbook in order for them to develop their critical thinking around concepts and key debates related to the lecture content. The project involved the use of an electronic ‘pinboard’ (Lino) to facilitate collaborative discussions and presentations around journal article readings on the Sociology of Work module.

Baibing Li – The aim of the project is to provide a better and interactive way for the students to participate the teaching/learning process during my lectures.

The E-learning Champions felt that the benefits included having time to explore the potential of their chosen area of E-learning and to be fully supported by the CAP and SBE E-learning Team.

The project was led by Mr. Philip Wilkinson-Blake from the SBE.

The project concluded with an E-learning Champions Showcase Event, which was supported by IT Services, CAP and the SBE E-learning Team. Over 40 staff attended the event, at which E-learning champions shared their experiences and findings.

Video and lecture capture technology was used to share the best practice with other colleagues across the University.

The data findings are now being analysed by the SBE E-learning Team and will be shared with other Schools in the future.

 

Lecture Capture Conference Postscript

Jim Turner (photo courtesy of Sandra Huskinson)

Our 2nd lecture capture conference last month, attended by over 70 delegates, received very positive feedback and generated some fantastic debates about the value of lecture capture.

There was general agreement that it would be useful to run another event with a similar focus (on pedagogic research around lecture capture) later this year, and we’ll certainly look at doing this.

All the main presentations were captured and can be accessed below.

Morning session 1: http://review.lboro.ac.uk:8080/ess/echo/presentation/6237eb11-fe08-4e02-b6d4-5e2403d0567f

Morning session 2: http://review.lboro.ac.uk:8080/ess/echo/presentation/0cbd5ce9-b266-40f7-9f7b-e18895eecc22

Afternoon session: http://review.lboro.ac.uk:8080/ess/echo/presentation/1cde883b-9ee6-4fe0-bc5f-bd26cd1e5e69

Details of the sessions can be found here.

(Photo of Jim Turner courtesy of Sandra Huskinson)

Lecture Capture event at Loughborough 17th December

Lecture Capture event 17 Dec 14On Wednesday December 17th the Centre for Academic Practice is holding its second lecture capture mini-conference, open to both Loughborough staff and external delegates.

Entitled Lecture Capture: Building the Evidence Base,  the workshop will provide participants with an opportunity to engage in conversation around the evidence base for the value of lecture capture, stimulated by informal presentations by practitioners from across HE. Lboro staff should contact the organiser, Charles Shields, directly to book a place. If you work at another institution, click here to book.

The event is to be hosted in the Brockington Extension from 9.15am – 4pm. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

LCprogrammeDec14The format is based on short presentations with ample opportunity for discussion.

The programme is available here.

The event is intended for academics, learning technologists, quality enhancement staff, and educational researchers – and anyone else with an interest in making effective use of lecture capture (LC).

As many institutions are scaling up the use of LC, it remains a contentious area, with many academic staff still questioning whether the resources now being invested are justified. Learning technologists are being challenged to produce evidence that the introduction of lecture capture has a positive impact on learning outcomes. We would particularly welcome delegates who have concerns or who are sceptical as to the value of LC.

This event provides an opportunity for who have been undertaking monitoring and evaluation projects to share their findings so far. Presentations will cover both institution-wide and small-scale studies.

Please e-mail c.f.g.shields@lboro.ac.uk for further information.
Payments can be made through the Loughborough online store from November 19th. The event is priced at £50.00 for external delegates.

Deadline for bookings: 9am Monday 15th December

Shopping cartCLICK HERE TO BOOK!