The University has a responsibility to provide evidence to the Office for Students (OfS) about the value of outreach programmes. We need to show that we are working effectively with people from areas where there is low progression to higher education and that the work we do has a positive impact (by monitoring data for a prolonged period of time).
The purpose of the evaluation and monitoring project is to:
- ensure that the activities we run are effective
- measure the impact of our activities
- identify the most effective activities and examples of best practice, and to
- ensure that our activities are targeted at the intended Widening Participation cohorts. In order to evaluate outreach activities, we use a variety of tools: the collection of demographic information, participant surveys, focus groups, parents/carers questionnaires.
- In order to evaluate outreach activities, we use a variety of tools including the collection of demographic information, participant surveys and focus groups.
In order to monitor the targeting and attendance of our activities, and to ensure that the activities are reaching the intended groups, we ask all participants to sign a register at the beginning of every outreach activity. Participants are asked for their Name, Date of Birth and Postcode. We conduct this monitoring exercise in line with guidance from the Office for Students (OfS).
At present the University of Kent is leading a national project in conjunction with OfS which evaluates the relationship between university outreach programmes and students’ educational journeys. The project, Higher Education Access Tracker (HEAT), requires us to collect a minimal amount of non-sensitive information (name, date of birth and postcode) about participants in our activities so that we can track them over an extended period of time through administrative databases such as those of the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). This data is used for research purposes only and will not be used at school or individual pupil level. Anonymised data is used for analysis and the results are aggregated.
As part of the evaluation process, we may ask participants to complete an evaluation questionnaire at the end of the outreach activities (if it is a short or one-off activity), or to complete a questionnaire at the beginning and again at the end of an activity (if it is a modular session run over a few days or weeks). This questionnaire is designed to collect information about each participant’s attitudes and feelings towards HE level study, and about the skills and knowledge that they may have developed as a result of the activity.
It will be made clear to participants that they are not obliged to complete the questionnaire or any specific part of it, if they are not comfortable doing so.
We will occasionally conduct a limited number of focus groups in order to gather qualitative information about the effectiveness and impact of the outreach activities we run. The selection of participants will always be arranged in consultation with their institution. All feedback provided during a focus group will be treated anonymously.