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Evaluating the impact of HE curriculum reform on race equality gaps
The University of Kent is collaborating with Transforming Access and Student Outcomes (TASO) to evaluate the impact of diversifying curriculum on the race equality gap in higher education. There are persistent racial inequalities in higher education (HE). One such inequality is that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students typically achieve lower marks in HE than their White peers. Funded by the Office for Students, TASO is an independent charity that plays a key role in the sector in generating evidence of "what works" in terms of enhancing race equality in higher education.
Some researchers argue that the ‘whiteness’ or Eurocentricity of the curriculum may explain why these gaps in attainment exist. Through this project, TASO and the University of Kent aim to establish whether reforming the curriculum to make it more diverse will increase attainment in BAME students. We also aim to understand whether reforming the curriculum improves the experience of BAME students in terms of their engagement with module content and satisfaction with the module. TASO will cascade both the findings and details of the curriculum reform to the sector to inform practice.
We are evaluating the University of Kent’s curriculum reform intervention known as the ‘Diversity Mark’ initiative, an institution-wide approach to creating modules that offer a diverse and inclusive range of resources for their students via their reading lists. We are particularly focusing on five modules within the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research that were deemed to have diversified their curricula in 2018-19 and are included as treatment modules in this study. Analysis will take the form of a matched difference-in-differences on the attainment trend of the diversified modules with five selected comparator modules in the same school. The primary outcome measure will be the module level attainment of BAME students in diversified modules compared with attainment of BAME students in matched comparator modules. White and BAME students from a subset of both intervention and comparator modules have also completed surveys on their perception of the cultural sensitivity of the curricula, their engagement with the modules, and their satisfaction with the modules. Results are expected in early 2022.