Understanding the data to close the awarding gap in the biosciences

Page, Nigel (2021) Understanding the data to close the awarding gap in the biosciences. In: Higher Education Institutional Research (HEIR) Conference 2021; 22 - 24 Sep. 2021, University of St Andrews (held online). (Unpublished)


Closing the awarding gap is not only about implementation to deliver equitable outcomes but requires institutional understanding of the data. It is particularly important to institutions such as Kingston University given the high proportion of home students who come from BME backgrounds. Differing attainment not only affects retention and success, but progression into further study/employment. Our data demonstrates a host of potential factors that may contribute to the awarding gap including from the impact of commuting, differential motivators for studying at university, sense of belonging, the effect of peer support, wider networking opportunities to the design and delivery of assessments. These features all present distinctive challenges in securing equitable outcomes, where it can be difficult to single out the impact of any individual factor or the interplay between them. In this context, this presentation will review some of the inclusive interventions and initiatives that we have made in our practice using examples from the biosciences at Kingston University from designing our curriculum to impact of the timetable in curriculum delivery; content availability and the virtual learning environment; the exploration of differential attainment by assessment type; and how data obtained locally and through the use of university wide module/course dashboards can be used to highlight and act on areas of inequality. Ultimately, these approaches need to be consolidated and reflected in greater staff awareness of the relevant issues along with appropriate guidance/policies to provide holistic solutions beyond just the data.

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