Viewing unequal student experiences and outcomes in British higher education through an intersectional lens

Jessica Gagnon (Speaker), Arif Mahmud (Speaker), Hoskins, S. (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation

Description of Activity

This presentation will explore findings from the University of Portsmouth-led HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) attainment gap project titled “Changing Mindsets: Reducing stereotype threat and implicit bias as barriers to student success” through an intersectional lens (Cristoffersen, 2017). One of 17 HEFCE catalyst-funded projects focused on closing attainment gaps currently underway across the UK, Changing Mindsets is a multi-university partnership that includes the University of the Arts London, the University of Brighton, Canterbury Christ Church University, and the University of Winchester.

The project is focused on addressing unequal student experiences and outcomes for two student groups: Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) students and socio-economically disadvantaged students. The BME degree attainment gap in the UK is 15% (ECU, 2017). The attainment gap for socio-economically disadvantaged students is 14% (Mountford-Zimdars et al, 2015). In addition to unequal outcomes by race and ethnicity and by socio-economic class, national data suggests that women are five percent more likely to achieve a “good” degree (defined as a first or 2:1 qualification) than men (HEFCE, 2015). However, these numbers do not allow for an intersectional understanding of the inequalities students face in higher education (Cristoffersen, 2017).

Evaluation research data for this project is currently being collected across the partnership (Spring 2018) and intersectional data analysis will be conducted in Summer 2018. We will explore the findings from quantitative and qualitative data collected through student surveys and interviews and through staff surveys and focus groups. Findings from the project are intended to inform higher education policies and practices to address inequalities in students’ experiences and outcomes.

HEFCE Changing Mindsets is a student and staff workshop-based intervention that builds a growth mindset (Dweck, 2017): the belief that ability develops through effort and by embracing challenge. Initially developed at the University of Portsmouth, the intervention aims to close the attainment gap in student experience, retention, progression, academic attainment and employability by changing mindsets and eroding stereotype threat (Osborne, 2007; Steele, 1997) and implicit bias (Devine et al, 2012) as barriers to learning. The intervention workshops and evaluation research is underpinned by psychological (Dweck, 2017; Devine et al, 2012), sociological (Collins and Bilge, 2016; Bhopal and Preston, 2012), and educational (Reay, 2017; Apple, 2015; Solórzano and Yosso, 2002) concepts and theories. The project targets include delivering the intervention to 5,200 students and 800 academic staff across the partnership over the two years of the project.
Period10 Dec 2018
Event titleGender and Education Association Conference: Gender, Post-truth Populism and Pedagogies: Challenges and Strategies in a Shifting Political Landscape
Event typeConference
LocationNewcastle, Australia