Students focussed on practical aspects of their University experienceThey wanted to succeed and become successful in their chosen career paths but they also wanted to enjoy their time at University and have “fun”.They wanted to have engaging and passionate lecturers who knew the content and material of the courses they were deliveringThey wanted to have access to resources which motivated them and supported their learning as academics but also wanted to draw on life experiences which were not necessarily directly related to professional skill sets – i.e. drawing on the life experiences and life skills of relevant and knowledgeable others across the UniversityThey wanted to have approachable lecturers – awkward first encounters made them nervous They wanted to have positive relationshipsThey wanted to feel safe and comfortable within the University, wanted to trust lecturersThey wanted their efforts to be acknowledgedThey wanted to be able to improveThey did not want any “special treatment” but they wanted to have access to University resources
There were four main areas that our finding fell into: Relationships, Academe factors, Psychological factors Cultural and Social issues.RelationshipsBoth lectures and students tell us that the quality of the relationship between students and lecturers is important in student attainment. Relationships might not be equal and can effect the disparity between student attainment However, when comparing staff and student perceptions, we found that there were vast differences between what student and lecturers believed.Staff - One way relationship ‘I provide you with the where with all to get your degree’Student – Two way relationship ‘We build a relationship and through this relationship we share information that will enable me to gain my degree’Qualities of staff student relationshipsGood relationshipsSubject expertiseGood communication – approachable, helpful, supportive – not always out of the classroomBad relationshipslack of communicationLack of organisationFolk Pedagogies at UWAsked for 5 reasons why students at UW don’t get firsts (first part of study)Identified 4 areas Staff factorsLearning factorsSystem factorsStudent factorsThe most interesting of these are:Student factors as these are where the folk pedagogies are evidentLearning factors – which contain messages that lectures pass on to students – these are a double edged sword as although positive they are intrinsically limitingStudent FactorsThrough the student factors identified by the lecturers we can access the folk pedagogies (Brunner, xxxx) that lecturers unconsciously work to. Folk pedagogies are unconscious beliefs that colour the way that people view and interact with other groups of people. The folk pedagogies identified in this data set fall into four areas: Beliefs about academic competency, beliefs about the psychology of University of Wolverhampton students, beliefs about the social norms that influence students and individual factors about students. The sets of folk pedagogies are listed below Academic: University of Wolverhampton students do not get first because:they do not have good writing skillsdo not have good language acquisitionhave a narrow world vieware not capable of independent thought/studylack ability/are not excellent studentslack motivation/are not motivated to get firstsdo not priorities learninghave outside responsibilities that interfere with learningare not engaged to attend lecturershave no, or little, confidencedo not expect do get good degrees or do wellthey have no academic role models at homethey do not have families to push them to do wellheld back by social and cultural norms towards educationare not fully prepared for higher education during their previous educational experiencesBeing an interlocutorOne of the most powerful inputs lecturers can have in a students success is acting as an interlocutor. The interlocutor is a person that introduces people into a discourse, providing them with enough information they can act autonomously with that discourse once the interlocutor was moved away from it. Lecturers are interlocutors in many ways: through what they say ‘you can get a good degree’, through how they behave and provide subtle messages – ie how they teach and the language they use ‘when you are barristers or solicitors you will be…..’Through who they are – being a role model ie GurnamAcademic processesFit to submit/ CAW & Sigma – ensuring that students understand academic writing, the importance of spelling and grammar and the impact of these on the grades that they achieve.Student Mentoring – embedding students within the academic culture, encouraging them to understand how to achieveAssignment briefs – The quality of assignment briefs impact on attainment. Clear, logical, fit for purpose briefs with student centered language help attainmentAssignment types – students perform differently in different assessment types – data is muddy and needs further investigationDissertation marking – ensuring that students who do well in their dissertations are not marked down because of their past performance and the perception lecturers have of them – good marking practice (double marked, main marker not supervisor, viva)Feedback – students require good, timely and useful feedback. This should include information on their academic writing, spelling, grammar and structure of their argument, if they have been marked down on these aspects.Sign posting – lecturers should sign post students to academic support systems, if help is requiredSpikey Degrees – BME students have a much more spikey degree profile than white students – ie a white 2:I students might score consistently in the 60 – 70%, where a BME student with 2:I might have gained scores ranging between 40 and 90% - why is this?Blind Marking – encouraging blind marking in subjects and modules where it is difficult. – ie lab practicals, art and design, nursing practice examinations and dissertationsEncouraging responsibility and accountability – encouraging student to take responsibility for their monitoring their attendance. Re-engage the disengaged, encouraging attendance. Students must be visible for lecturers to know them, form a relationship with themCultural Capital and Social CapitalUnderstanding classification – ensuring students understand the difference between the different classifications, how a degree is calculated and the importance of getting a good degree.University culture at home – do students have supportive home environment that is conducive to completing the work they need to do outside of the lecture theatreInformation for student (vox pops) – giving students information helps them understand what they need to do to achieveAspiration raising – encouraging students’ confidence, their belief in themselves as academics/good students/people capable of achieving. The process of becoming a studentInformation for parents – ensuring that parents understand the environment that their child is working in, so that they know what they should be encouraging them towards and what is expected of them in order to achieve.Role models – providing successful role models for those who do not have them within their family or friends – mentoring, lecturers as role modelsSupport – ensuring the university have systems to help students understand, adapt to and feel comfortable in the Higher Education EnvironmentPsychological ProcessesIndividualisation – seeing students as individuals encourages them to feel respected and for folk pedagogies to be challenged.Being and becoming a student – there is a process by which students become certain kinds of student’s high, medium, low performers. Internal vs External locus of control (perception) – differences in what students tell us and what lecturers perceive about themFolk Pedagogies – beliefs about ability/motivations that apply to certain groups of students that can impede the relationships between lecturers and students and how those students are treated – impacts on the attainment biasPygmalion effect – linking a characteristic to attainment and then unconsciously teaching all those with that characteristic to that level of attainment. Can influence how students are taught and feed into the attainment biasPsychological Contract – Student pedagogies + student relationship with the university suggests that the student may have a psychological, unspoken contract with the university. When aspects of the contract are violated, trust is broke and disengagement might occur.
In his text Teachers as Cultural Workers: Letters to Those Who Dare to Teach, Freire (1998) provides several qualities he believes are indispensible for teachers. He suggests that humility, courage, tolerance and lovingness are virtues that help teachers dignify the educational process. Humility, Freire explains, involves “listening to all that come to us, regardless of their intellectual level” because it is a “human duty” that helps us identify “with democracy and not with elitism.” “Courage” is also a necessary quality because it helps us conquer the fears that limit and control us. “Tolerance” allows education to be progressive because it teaches us to live and work with those who are different. And “lovingness,” says Freire, gives our work meaning (pp. 39-42).In her book ‘Reinventing Freire” Pedagogy of Love, Antonia Darder (2002) argues that, “teachers could find the strength, faith, and humility to establish solidarity and struggle together to transform the oppressive ideologies and practices of public education” (p. 91) if they commit to transforming their classroom practice into an act of “profound love” She goes onto asks the reader to consider alternatives to the traditionally held constructs regarding the act of teaching. She outlines several factors and beliefs teachers must examine if they are truly to exemplify a revolutionary pedagogy. These include: Students as integral human beings, dialogue as pedagogy, the negotiation of power and authority, classroom culture, and the courage to teach in a manner outside the commonly accepted norms.
Gurnam Singh MoRKSS at SHU 7/11/12
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
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).
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
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
Equality in higher education: statistical report 2011 Part 2: Students http://www.ecu.ac.uk/publications/files/equality-in-he-stats-11-part-2-students.doc/at_download/file The the proportion of UK-domicile BME students has increased from 14.9% in 2003/04 to 18.1% in 2009/10
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
Disparities in Student Attainment (DiSA) – HEA Funded NTF project –Wolverhampton and Coventry www.wlv.ac.uk/disa 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
DISA: Disparities in Student Attainment - HEA FundedNTF projectwww.wlv.ac.uk/disa 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
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
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!
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).
Pedagogy of love – Humanising learning http://www.youtube.com/watch?v= 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
Pedagogy of love – Transformative Learning Humility Courage Tolerance Lovingness
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
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
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.