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1.1 Understanding racial segregation in the classroom Lusted, Best-Bryan


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CAN 2018 conference presentation at The University of Winchester

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1.1 Understanding racial segregation in the classroom Lusted, Best-Bryan

  1. 1. Understanding racial segregation in the classroom through a staff/student collaborative research project Dr. Jim Lusted & Carjez Best-Bryan University of Northampton @DrJimLusted
  2. 2. Presentation overview 1. Background/rationale of project: the multi-cultural classroom 2. Summary/analysis of key findings 3. Reflections on staff-student collaborations
  3. 3. Background/rationale The ‘white curriculum’ Self or imposed ‘segregation’? (Villalpando 2010; McKeown et al. 2016) Tutors minimise racist institutional norms (Harper 2012) The racialised student experience (Cotton et al. 2015)
  4. 4. The Urb@n scheme at Northampton • ‘Undergraduate Research Bursaries at Northampton’ • Since 2009 • Staff-student collaboration • L&T related research only • £500 student bursary • Produce and present a poster at annual L&T conference • Approx. 15 projects per year Our project: 1. How do student groups form and/or get allocated? 2. To what extent is this influenced by ‘race’? 3. What group make-up to BME students prefer/learn most in?
  5. 5. Key findings – working in groups Topic Themes Illustrative quotes Allocation process Varied, often tutor led No strong preference ”Tutor usually picks the groups … I personally don’t mind” (S2) Group formation Groups based on friendships Friendships ethnically aligned “I choose friends because it’s easier to get together” (S5) “you tend to drift to the people who are like you ” (S3) Working with BME students Easy to get on with each other Assumed trust Perceived similarities “[BME students are] more comfortable with each other … something in common i.e. race” (S2) “We are all usually from the same background and understand each other better” (S4) Working with white students Difficult to communicate Fear of appearing rude Can’t be yourself “it’s a little weird because you feel out of place and you don’t know how to open up and engage with them” (S1) “When working with people of other ethnicities I feel that they sometimes don’t want to speak their mind “ (S3) Perceived tutor bias BME students don’t ask for help Tutor focus on white students Hesitant to refute tutor bias “We don’t really engage with the lecturer” (S1) “The lecturers help the white students more because they are always asking questions” (S4) “I hope that the tutors don’t take race into account when it comes to marking” (S5)
  6. 6. Discussion • Tutor-led ‘colour-blind’ view of ‘race’ (Harper 2012) is not matched by BME students – Students draw regularly on ideas of ‘race’ to understand their learning experiences • The ethnic segregation of groups is mainly student rather than teacher led – Based around existing friendships which are clearly racialised • All respondents felt working with students from other ethnic backgrounds could aid their learning. • We recommend tutors to take a lead on group allocations and consider more regularly mixing up friendship (and thus ethnic) groups in modules. • A ‘race cognizant’ rather than ‘colour-blind’ approach should be encouraged among teachers (Reason & Evans 2007)
  7. 7. Reflections on staff-student collaboration
  8. 8. Reflections on staff-student collaborations
  9. 9. Reflections on staff-student collaboration • Selecting your student – power, politics and personality • Who owns the project? Who has most to gain/lose? • Need to be flexible about nature of partnership: – Apprentice model (co-researching) – Supervisee model (guided autonomy) – Research Assistant model (contributing to existing larger project) • Getting ‘real’ student feedback • Be realistic about what the collaboration can achieve
  10. 10. References • Cotton, D., Joyner, M., George, R. & Cotton, P. (2016) Understanding the gender and ethnicity attainment gap in UK higher education, Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 53:5, 475-486 • Harper, S.R., 2012. Race without racism: How higher education researchers minimize racist institutional norms. The Review of Higher Education, 36(1), pp.9-29. • Hoong Sin, C., (2007) Ethnic-matching in qualitative research: reversing the gaze on white others' and white 'as other'. Qualitative Research, 7(4), pp.477-499. • McKeown, S., Stringer, M. and Cairns, E. (2016), Classroom segregation: where do students sit and how is this related to group relations?. British Educational Research Journal, 42: 40–55. • Reason, R.D. and Evans, N.J., 2007. The complicated realities of Whiteness: From color blind to racially cognizant. New Directions for Student Services, 2007(120), pp.67-75. • Villalpando, O. (2010) "Latinas/os in higher education: Eligibility, enrollment, and educational attainment." In Murillo, E. (ed.) Handbook of Latinos and education: Theory, research, and practice (2010): 232-249.