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Analysis of COVID-19’s impact on BAME students’ attainment (A case study of Level 1 C&C Open University modules)

Project leader(s): 
Dhouha Kbaier and Soraya Kouadri Mostefaoui
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Current
Body: 

A range of evidence from new data sources indicates that historically marginalised sections of the population, namely those from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME*) backgrounds, suffer disproportionally from the impacts of the COVID-19 [1]. For instance, a study by the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre revealed that 35% of patients infected by the virus were non-white, which is nearly triple the 13% proportion in the UK population as a whole (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/07/bame-groups-hit-harder-covid-19-than-white-people-uk). BAME students, as part of this disadvantaged community, are particularly vulnerable to the fallout of coronavirus. One of the major issues facing all universities prior to Covid-19 was the scandalous BAME degree awarding gap, and it is likely to be an even bigger issue now. The project aims to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on BAME students’ attainment at the OU by means of a combination of qualitative and qualitative data analytics.

Previous work at The OU [2] on traces of 150,000 students confirms the existence of an attainment gap of BAME students, who are at least 20% less likely to achieve excellent grades. More importantly BAME students spent 4-12% more of study time to achieve the same academic performance as white students.

This project aims to first understand patterns of BAME students’ progression and retention by conducting large-scale data analytics in the core level 1 modules namely, TM111/TM112, as well as to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the BAME students’ attainment and study experiences. 

As argued in many research, data-driven, student-cantered approaches can reduce attainment gaps in higher education [3, 4]. Therefore, we will use the findings of these analysis to drive focus groups and interviews with students and teaching staff.


[1] Mamluk L, Jones T. The impact of COVID-19 on black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. National Institute for Health Research (NHR) report. 20/05/2020.

[2] Nguyen Q., Rienties B. Richardson J.T.E. (2020) Learning analytics to uncover inequality in behavioural engagement and academic attainment in a distance learning setting, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 45:4, 594-606, DOI: 10.1080/02602938.2019.1679088.

[3] Panesar, L., 2017. Academic support and the BAME attainment gap: using data to challenge assumptions. Spark: UAL Creative Teaching and Learning Journal, 2(1), pp.45-49.

[4] Liu, D. Y.-T., Bartimote-Aufflick, K., Pardo, A., & Bridgeman, A. J. (2017). Data-Driven Personalization of Student Learning Support in Higher Education Learning Analytics: Fundaments, Applications, and Trends (pp. 143--169): Springer.

* This information is drawn from self-designations of ethnicity on enrolment forms. The acronym BAME may not be a preference of all students designated as BAME by the institution (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-53194376)

Dhouha Kbaier and Soraya Kouadri Mostéfaoui poster

Theme: 

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: A Badged Open Course

Project leader(s): 
Shailey Minocha and Diane Butler
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Current
Body: 

This free Badged Open Course (BOC) titled Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in STEM provided a toolkit for conducting Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). 

The aim of this course, which is designed around the stages of a SoTL inquiry or project, is to help colleagues to systematically design, conduct, reflect on and evaluate an ethically reasoned SoTL inquiry focused on student learning and engagement. They will also learn to disseminate the outcomes of SoTL and to assess the impact of a SoTL inquiry. 

SoTL is often carried out collaboratively involving educators, learning designers, educational researchers and students. Although this course uses the term ‘educator’ for a researcher conducting a SoTL inquiry or project, the course is designed for anybody interested in conducting SoTL.  

The case studies in this course are from STEM but the course has been designed for colleagues from all disciplines across the university who are interested in integrating SoTL in their academic practice and in gaining professional recognition such as Advance HE Fellowships

To find out more please visit the links below.

Links/resources

To enrol, please visit ‘Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in STEM’ on OpenLearn. 

British Ecological Society's Teaching and Learning Special Interest Group Blog

 

Theme: 

Typical Support Seeking Behaviour of STEM Students, their Outcomes and Successes

Project leader(s): 
Paul Collier and Fiona Aiken
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Current
Body: 

The importance of personal, non-academic support of students especially in a distance learning environment is well documented in the literature. Main findings in an HEA report (Jacklin et al, 2007) were that the way that support is provided and organised is important and negative experiences result from delays in students receiving a response. Students indicated that it can be difficult to commence their studies and managing students' expectations versus the realities of life in Higher education can be a challenge at the start of a module. In the report recommendations it stated the importance of knowing who to contact, where to go and what support is available.  This is backed up further by Simpson, (Simpson, O., 2018) in chapter 3 he states that’ A good adviser will also use his or her experience and skill to help the student clarify and conceptualize the issue or problem, as well as challenging the student's perceptions when appropriate.’

Direct student contact occurs within Academic Services through a variety of mediums, covering a multitude of topics and at different points in time.  This project will investigate those interactions in terms of volume, nature and composition in order to understand the overall position of our dialogue with students.  To assist the focus of the work the investigation will be focused around the crucial 6 weeks to Final Enrolment Date through to the submission of the 1st TMA in a module.  With a baseline established the work can move into cutting the understanding by APS characteristics to see if they impact on the baselines.  It will be critical to understand the outcomes from this.  Given the wide nature of this work we may choose to focus on queries relating to STEM specific modules/qualifications.  This determination will need to be understood at the analysis stage so that we are not limiting the scope of our work to a narrower field.

Further, it is important to understand how these interactions impact upon the success the students have.  Success for each of the categories of interaction will mean something totally different based on the content and timing of the interaction.  This will need to be understood to ensure that we can measure the differences in outcome for students.

Based on the investigation we will develop a series of recommendations suggested to augment the directed interaction between the university and the student.  We will need to prioritise and pilot appropriate recommendations to clearly understand the impact.  Based on the impact assessment this can be rolled out more widely.

Based on research to date, at the Open University and further afield, there appears to have been limited work carried out to understand the nature of student interactions in this fashion.  This will be exacerbated by the support model at the Open University and contributes to limited evidence found in scholarship work relating to this to date.


Jacklin A., Robinson C., O’Meara L., and Harris A. (2007), Improving the experiences of disabled students in higher education, HEA report [online] available at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/253525979_Improving_the_Experiences_of_Disabled_Students_in_Higher_Education (accessed 18/02/2021)

Simpson, O. (2018 ebook). Supporting Students in Online, Open and Distance Learning (2nd ed.). RoutledgeFalmer.[online] available at  https://doi-org.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/10.4324/9780203417003 (accessed 18/02/2021)

Paul Collier and Fiona Aiken poster (PPT)

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