A very warm welcome to Teaching Insights, Oxford Brookes University’s open access teaching and learning publication produced by the Oxford Centre for Academic Enhancement and Development (OCAED). Its aim is to be a source of practical ideas for teachers in higher education to create exceptional student experiences and contribute to OCAED’s vision to inspire the learning community.
In this edition, our third since this publication’s inception, we focus on Closing Awarding Gaps: Celebrating Success. Differences in outcomes for certain groups of students persist in higher education. Research demonstrates that there are significant variations in both retention and achievement for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students, those from lower socio-economic backgrounds and those with challenges to their mental health and well-being (OfS, 2019).
Structural inequalities inherent to higher education contribute to the barriers to academic success that minority student groups may encounter (WONKHE, 2020). The aim of the work on ‘awarding gaps’ is to identify and deconstruct those institutional impediments, and create a higher education environment which actively supports and promotes the success of all students (UUK/NUS, 2019).
We are delighted to have contributions from such a variety of academic staff and students from multiple higher education institutions across the sector. The collection examines the key ideas related to our theme and translates these into real-world practice to enhance the student experience. Education should be accessible and attainable by all which is why our theme of Closing Awarding Gaps: Celebrating Success is so important. We have enjoyed reading about the many ways in which different academic staff have considered and embedded accessibility into their teaching. Overall, creating this edition has made us feel hopeful for the future of education in what has probably been one of the hardest times to work in this industry.
Our Recipes for Success offer ‘what works’ in the form of concise case studies celebrating initiatives that have tackled awarding gaps and enabled students every opportunity for academic success. Nine submissions were chosen and contribute a broad range of perspectives provided by authors employed in a variety of roles (in both academic and professional services). Our authors are based in Russell group, red brick and post-92 institutions across the UK. The intention of these pieces is to enable transferability and foster a national community of practice.
We are delighted to welcome Neil Currant, Educational Developer: Reward and Recognition at The University of the Arts, London, whose article provides The Bigger Picture. This sets the scene by reviewing the essential literature and considering the major current debates on our theme, in particular the role of belonging in supporting the aim of closing awarding gaps. In our Alumni Reunion feature, we bring together Brookes’ Dr Louise Taylor Bunce and her former students in dialogue about what’s made the difference. In Your Questions Answered, a guest panel respond to reader-submitted questions related to opportunities, barriers, terminology and working with international students. In our new Tales from the Faculty feature, Dr Mamdooh Alyzood reflects on how to best support international students, having made the journey from being one himself at Brookes to teaching them.
The theme of our next edition, to be published in July 2023, is inclusive curriculum development (including the use of Brookes’ IDEAS model for curriculum enhancement). Please go to the Contribute page if you are interested in being a contributor.
We are continually aiming to enhance Teaching Insights so please let us know what has been useful to you, what you feel could be improved and any ideas you have for future editions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
We would like to give our sincere thanks to those who have made the production of this publication possible – Samuel Folley (web development), Adrian Wallbank (reviewer and copy-editor), Ella Squires (copy-editor) and Liz Drewett (Marketing).
Ben Walker, Senior Lecturer in Educational Development
Sarah Tammadge-Wall, Vice-President for Student Voice, Brookes Student Union
Co-editors, Teaching Insights
OfS (2019) New data reveals university performance on access and student success. Available at: https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/news-blog-and-events/press-and-media/new-data-reveals-university-performance-on-access-and-student-success/
Universities UK / NUS (2019) Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic student attainment at UK universities: closing the gap. Available at: https://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/what-we-do/policy-and-research/publications/black-asian-and-minority-ethnic-student
WONKHE (2020) Time’s up for the awarding gap. Available at: https://wonkhe.com/blogs/times-up-for-the-awarding-gap