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Gurnam Singh MoRKSS at SHU 7/11/12


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Gurnam Singh presentation at Sheffield Hallam University 7 Nov 2012
Apologies - first 15mins of audio not clear audio, but improves afterwards

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Gurnam Singh MoRKSS at SHU 7/11/12

  1. 1. Mobilisation of Research Knowledge for Student Success Workshop, 7th November,2012 Sheffield Hallam University Reducing disparities in BME student attainment – challenges and possibilities Dr Gurnam Singh, Coventry University
  2. 2. Background – Race, Ethnicity and HE Phase 1 – Pre 1990 – ‘state of ignorance’ – colour blind – cultural deficit. Phase 2 – 1990’s – Widening participation – disproportionate numbers of BME students HE, but largely in New Universities. Emphasis on removing barriers to entry. Phase 3 – 2000 to present – Gradual uncovering and recognition of a ‘problem’ – evidence base gradually begins to build (Connors, et al (2003) and (2004); Law et al (2004); Tolley and Rundle, (2006); Broecke and Nicholls, (2007) HEA/ECU (2008), Fielding et al (2008) ECU (2010), NUS, (2011), Singh, (2011), HEA/ECU (2011).
  3. 3. Defining the problem ‘Relative to White students, those from every non-White ethnic group are less likely to obtain good degrees and less likely to obtain first class degrees…The odds of an Asian student being awarded a good degree were half of those of a White student being awarded a good degree, whereas the odds of a Black student being awarded a good degree were a third of those of a White student being awarded a good degree’ (Richardson, 2007: 10). 3
  4. 4. BME student under-attainment – why? Traditional (‘commonsense’) view – They lack ability, their culture is detrimental, their lifestyle is relatively dysfunctional/chaotic, they have problems with authority, generally they have lower ability and tend to segregate themselves off from other students, they need to change. Liberal view – BME students experience more disengagement, alienation, lack confidence and self-esteem, experience negative attitudes from some staff and student and they possess low levels of social and cultural capital. I am prepared to help them if required. Radical view – Racism, , Eurocentric curriculum, low teacher expectations, treated more harshly than white students, ghettoisation/segregation/streaming of students along ethnicity, labelling/‘othering’, poorer material conditions, symbolic violence, their capabilities are not recognise. The pedagogy and institution needs to change.Reflective Question – Which one of these perspectives best reflects your:1. Personal view2. Institutional view 4
  5. 5. Equality in higher education: statistical report 2011 Part 2: Students The the proportion of UK-domicile BME students has increased from 14.9% in 2003/04 to 18.1% in 2009/10
  6. 6. The picture confusing? Problem with ethnic categorisation. Categories can not really tell us anything about individual experience. We make distinction between ‘home’ and oversees students Super-diversity (Vertovec, 2007) Focussing on categories and student achievement/performance may actually take our attention away from ‘institutional structures and pedagogical practices’ (Ahmed, 2007) Reduces the historical struggle of justice and equality (political and pedagogical) to an endless wild goose chase for the ‘absolute truth’. We can get lost in the numbers game. 6
  7. 7. Disparities in Student Attainment (DiSA) – HEA Funded NTF project –Wolverhampton and Coventry 4 Key questions: Conceptual - What do we mean by a BME student (real or statistical entity) ? Evidential - What is the nature/scale of the attainment gap (institution, department, course and module level)? Evidential - Why do BME students do less well than ‘white’ students i.e. how can we explain the gap in degree attainment (Folk versus evidence based explanations)? Pedagogical - What can we do to close the gap? 7
  8. 8. DISA: Disparities in Student Attainment - HEA FundedNTF Research Stream 1: Institutional Data Identifying modules with no disparity – why? Research Stream 2: Student Data What students say help or impede their achievement Research Stream 3: Action Research with Staff Evaluation of interventions identified by staff to eradicate the gap Research Stream 4: Dissemination Good Degree Guide, Vox Pops, Postcards, Framework, Methodology
  9. 9. Key factors behind successSTUDENT PERCEPTION LECTURERS PERCEPTION ESSENTIAL RELATIONSHIPS  POOR STUDENT MOTIVATION between :  - Students don’t work hard enough - Staff and student - They don’t ask for help - Student and staff - Students and University support - They don’t read assignment brief services  LOW STUDENT SELF CONFIDENCE RESPECT between - lecturers and  Students are not willing to take risk Students – almost seems they are afraid to RECOGNITION of student effort use their own ideas and thoughts Previous skills/Life skills  WEAK SOCIAL/CULTURAL CAPITAL Recognition of difficult social BASE circumstances  Not enough reading knowledge of USEFUL FEEDBACK professional practice Access to Resources Fair and clear Assessment Academically challenging experience
  10. 10. Theorising the data Whilst some factors might have greater effect than others, disparity is likely to be a consequence of a variety of structural, situational, individual factors. Solutions therefore need to be varied and targeted. Although one may have a romantic view of the transformative power of education, in reality there are some factors that even the best teachers in the world cannot overcome. For some disadvantaged students success might be about surviving!
  11. 11. Key structural factors Class origins and reproduction of human/social capital – (Bourdieu, Putnam, Halpern) Family and community norms and values – (Coleman) Ethnicity, gender and social capital – (Modood, Connor et al) Access to material resources and social class (Cole) Ideology, Racialisation, Interpelation – (Lacan, Althusser, Hall).
  12. 12. Pedagogy of love – Humanising learning hTghEXKNj7g Teacher expectation impacts student performance (observer- expectancy effect) 4 factors 1.Warmer Climate – verbal and non verbal 2.Input factor – teachers teach more. 3.Response opportunity – call on and encourage high performers 4. Feedback – more positive and differentiated feedback
  13. 13. Pedagogy of love – Transformative Learning  Humility  Courage  Tolerance  Lovingness
  14. 14. Conclusion - Facilitating the ‘Good Degree Student’ Avoid Minimise Pygmalion effect – RaiseChallenge negative e.g. blind marking aspirationsstereotypical labellingthinking See students Be an as individual Be a good interlocutor Re-engage the disengaged communicator Foster good relationship Nurture with all intellectuality studentsOpen up those Develop Criticalwho have been and post-raceclosed down Encourage pedagogy interactive Show that you relationship want to teach
  15. 15. Ultimately our conception of humanity and worth will impact how we respond to the issue of BME attainment."A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he wasscattering the seed, some fell along the path, and thebirds came and ate it up. Some fell on rockyplaces, where it did not have much soil. It sprang upquickly, because the soil was shallow. But when thesun came up, the plants were scorched, and theywithered because they had no root. Other seed fellamong thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced acrop - a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.(Matthew 13:1-9) 16
  16. 16. Some questions How do we respond to the demographic shifts that render the categories increasingly unstable (Super diversity) We have been overwhelmed by the number of students, particularly those designated ‘black’ who find ethnic monitoring categories uncomfortable – what do we make of this? How can we engage with differences without perpetuating stereotypes or giving undue significance to ‘raciological’ thinking and classifications? Does this require an epistemological break?  Anti-racism to post-racism.  Cultural sensitivity to contextual sensitivity.