Research, Policy and Practice in widening participation Evidence from Aimhigher Joanne Moore, John Sanders and Jo Wiggans
What worked in Aimhigher: <ul><li>Partnership :  diverse institutions with a common objective to work together for the ben...
And in the OU? What had the most impact?  <ul><li>OU students - wonderful ambassadors for alternative pathways to higher e...
What worked in Aimhigher: evaluation, research and data  <ul><li>Knowledge brokerage  to increase cross-sectoral understan...
Research in Aimhigher <ul><li>Exploit naturally occurring data </li></ul><ul><li>Support and facilitate practitioner resea...
How research was used in Aimhigher <ul><li>Understanding the territory  </li></ul><ul><li>Knowing the learners </li></ul><...
Trends in part-time applications to HE <ul><li>HESA data analysis for Greater Manchester </li></ul><ul><li>Increase in par...
School case studies  <ul><li>Five participating Aimhigher target secondary schools </li></ul><ul><li>In-school research to...
What practitioners bring to research <ul><li>Contextual understanding  </li></ul><ul><li>Local data </li></ul><ul><li>Stro...
What researchers bring <ul><li>Time </li></ul><ul><li>Funding </li></ul><ul><li>Externality </li></ul><ul><li>Literature r...
What didn’t work in Aimhigher:  a story of missed opportunities <ul><li>No/too late national tracking of Aimhigher learner...
Questions for your practice/research <ul><li>Are WP practitioners and researchers playing on the same field/the same game?...
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Research, policy and practice in widening participation: the evidence from Aimhigher in the OU in the North West Jo Wiggans, John Sanders and Joanne Moore (Aimhigher Greater Manchester)

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The session will include a brief overview of the statistical trends in part-time admissions to HE, a presentation on the approaches used in Aimhigher to track learners and the impact of Aimhigher interventions on their progress and discussion of research methods and the uses of data for targeting.
Questions will be raised about the ways in which researchers and practitioners frame an oppositional discourse and could do things differently.
Discussion groups will include:
• Trend data in part-time applicants and entrants.
• Taking the evidence from Aimhigher - how could/does this translate into research?
• Making a difference in widening participation - the responsibilities of researchers and practitioners

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  • Partnership are cost-effective but they are not cost-free
  • And WP students are really interested in learning locally and in alternative pathways.
  • The result is a huge wealth of data. Who listens? Who reads? Locally it is of immense value and has informed and changed policy and strategy. Nationally, it has made little noise and had little attention.
  • Okay a lot of stats here – and more in the report itself which is nonetheless short. What does it do? It shows local authorities, schools, colleges that part-time is a real option. It shows providers that part time provision is widening participation (probably). It tells us that the trend is flat – cf full time where the trend has been markedly increased participation in the same period. Why? And will this change with the new fees? Leave slide on screen for long enough for people to read through the stats. Is there anything surprising in here for you? What other data would you want to see? Who needs to know?
  • Mix of description and analysis Use of school data and pupil and teacher perspectives Shows the contextualisation of the programme and its use to meet and to inform school strategic targets Top tips for other schools Clearly show change in attitudes and trajectories of Aimhigher cohort learners – not every one of course but a statistically significant majority Take the five together – although all different, they all show similar trends. What could a researcher do with this data?
  • Eg: 1. recent Sutton trust research lists local authority districts with lowest rates of progression to HE. Fair enough except that they totally fail to take account of the fact that some local authority districts have little post 16 provision in the borough so learners leave and are then counted as if they live in a different place when all they did is take a bus to a college in the town next door. It ’ s a north/south thing - they assume that schools have sixth forms and if their data shows hardly any kids in sixth forms they must have left school. In fact the schools don ’ t even have sixth forms … Research into fees sensitivity - because we know the nature of different colleges and their catchment, we could see that understanding of things taken for granted in some groups affects attitudes to fees - I.e. if you cannot differentiate between universities, price sensitivity is relatively simplistic. Hence additional questions which are, in some ways, more revealing that the straight questions about fees. FFT data in schools.
  • The strengths of Aimhigher – locally flexible and responsive. Strategic delivery through wide range of partners. Engagement of schools, colleges and universities. Practitioner led. Were also its weakness – lack of strong vocal support from VCs and senior staff in universities, departmental ignorance, lack of a national respected voice that could counter Daily Mail evidence – surely the worst kind. Narnia in HEFCe.
  • Research, policy and practice in widening participation: the evidence from Aimhigher in the OU in the North West Jo Wiggans, John Sanders and Joanne Moore (Aimhigher Greater Manchester)

    1. 1. Research, Policy and Practice in widening participation Evidence from Aimhigher Joanne Moore, John Sanders and Jo Wiggans
    2. 2. What worked in Aimhigher: <ul><li>Partnership : diverse institutions with a common objective to work together for the benefit of learners </li></ul><ul><li>National framework, locally differentiated delivery </li></ul><ul><li>Robust targeting </li></ul><ul><li>Programme not projects – learner progression framework </li></ul><ul><li>Early interventions – before GCSE choices limit options </li></ul><ul><li>Monitoring and evaluation </li></ul><ul><li>Direct experience of universities, IAG and building links with trained HE students. </li></ul><ul><li>Partnerships are cost-effective. They deliver more impact for less money </li></ul><ul><li>Partnerships are not cost-free </li></ul>
    3. 3. And in the OU? What had the most impact? <ul><li>OU students - wonderful ambassadors for alternative pathways to higher education </li></ul><ul><li>OU tutors - ability to adapt OU materials for use with younger learners in curriculum enrichment sessions </li></ul><ul><li>Information and advice about part-time opportunities - a revelation to many learners and their teachers </li></ul>
    4. 4. What worked in Aimhigher: evaluation, research and data <ul><li>Knowledge brokerage to increase cross-sectoral understanding </li></ul><ul><li>Use of data to target and track priority learner groups </li></ul><ul><li>Tracking learner outcomes and feeding data back to partners </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluation of impact on learners </li></ul><ul><li>Involving all partners in evaluation </li></ul>
    5. 5. Research in Aimhigher <ul><li>Exploit naturally occurring data </li></ul><ul><li>Support and facilitate practitioner research </li></ul><ul><li>Use accessible approaches and methods </li></ul><ul><li>Build evaluation into delivery plans </li></ul><ul><li>Track learners rather than activities </li></ul><ul><li>Capture the authentic learner voice </li></ul>
    6. 6. How research was used in Aimhigher <ul><li>Understanding the territory </li></ul><ul><li>Knowing the learners </li></ul><ul><li>Tracking change at macro and micro levels </li></ul><ul><li>Informing local authority, HEI and school and college strategies </li></ul><ul><li>Revealing hidden issues </li></ul>
    7. 7. Trends in part-time applications to HE <ul><li>HESA data analysis for Greater Manchester </li></ul><ul><li>Increase in part-time is small 2005 to 2009 – cf large increase in full-time entrants </li></ul><ul><li>Higher proportion of female students than full-time </li></ul><ul><li>Majority are on ‘other’ undergraduate programmes – FDs, HNC, HND etc. </li></ul><ul><li>77% of entrants over 25 - no change in under 25s </li></ul><ul><li>57% of p/t 2009 entrants (58% of OU entrants) from Aimhigher target areas (cf 50% of f/t entrants) </li></ul><ul><li>29% already had level 4 qualifications . </li></ul><ul><li>68% of first degree entrants were OU students – 39% of other programme students </li></ul>
    8. 8. School case studies <ul><li>Five participating Aimhigher target secondary schools </li></ul><ul><li>In-school research to profile the school and the Aimhigher cohort and assess impact </li></ul><ul><li>Improvements in GCSE attainment and CVA scores cf year group </li></ul><ul><li>Pupil and teacher assessment of impact of activities </li></ul><ul><li>Issues and benefits of Aimhigher </li></ul>
    9. 9. What practitioners bring to research <ul><li>Contextual understanding </li></ul><ul><li>Local data </li></ul><ul><li>Strong learner voice </li></ul><ul><li>Naturally occurring data </li></ul><ul><li>Research informs practice and strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Can collate across localities (but methodological issues?) </li></ul><ul><li>Discursive and iterative approach </li></ul><ul><li>There is scholarship in practitioner research </li></ul>
    10. 10. What researchers bring <ul><li>Time </li></ul><ul><li>Funding </li></ul><ul><li>Externality </li></ul><ul><li>Literature review </li></ul><ul><li>Links to other research </li></ul><ul><li>Established dissemination paths (but confined to the research community?) </li></ul><ul><li>Respectability? </li></ul>
    11. 11. What didn’t work in Aimhigher: a story of missed opportunities <ul><li>No/too late national tracking of Aimhigher learners </li></ul><ul><li>No consistent collation and dissemination of evidence from partnerships </li></ul><ul><li>Very little (and finally no) reference to evidence in policy decisions </li></ul><ul><li>Dismissal of robust evidence because it lacked academic legitimacy </li></ul>
    12. 12. Questions for your practice/research <ul><li>Are WP practitioners and researchers playing on the same field/the same game? </li></ul><ul><li>Are you making enough of naturally occurring data? </li></ul><ul><li>Are you using research to develop practice – is it an iterative relationship? </li></ul><ul><li>How can practitioners and researchers work together to support evidence-based policy? </li></ul>

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