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Making Sense of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Student Learning Experiences : stories from BME students in a North East University HE Academy Research Seminar Shamila Ahmed, Diane Nutt and Jayne Tidd
Overview Welcome and outline for the day Setting the context: a bit of background The BME student experience research –Time for questions Lunch and networking Discussion – experiences from other institutions and possible strategies Some strategies and what next
Setting the Context Teesside has a comparatively small number of BME students (about 8½%), the largest number from Pakistani backgrounds. The number of BME students is growing (both from older established BME groups who are now engaging more with HE than in the past, and from new immigrant groups) so our cohort groups are shifting and changing all the time. –This is both exciting and challenging. Previous Research with non-traditional students at Teesside
The Research: aim and method Understanding the student experience Method: –Data review –Interviews and focus groups –Thematic analysis The research process: –challenges and successes
Students Stories Listening to students tell their stories of being in HE highlighted some cultural orientations that we need to consider when developing learning and teaching strategies Choices: … if youve got nothing else to do, get married and become a housewife' (Asian Pakistani female student) Influences: my dad, because he came through the racism in the seventies and didnt end up with a menial job, so that why he is my biggest influence' (Afro Caribbean student) … mostly the Asians around here, tend to do what the parents tell them to do, If they have a mind of their own they are being controlled they have the remote control. With me, my parents never question me. (Asian Pakistani, female student)
Students Stories This section from an interview shows how the students account for some segregation amongst Asian students stems from university and how they have to adopt multiple identities. Student one: leading a different life really, when you go home youre expected to cook and clean and things like that Student two: yeah I get that as well like a double life Interviewer: do you think people from other cultures understand that? Student two: no they dont, at all Student three: some goray (white people) think that we live really backward and that Interviewer: do you think that the Asians just hang around together and dont really mix with other cultures? Student three: I do think that, yeah Interviewer: why do you think that happens? Student three: I think because they are used to it at college and school that they just carry it on at uni Student one: I think that its easier because you dont have to explain your every move, like Im going home early to cook, or to look after my dad you know. (Three Asian Pakistani law students)
Findings Statistically, students from some ethnic minority groups are under-achieving in comparison to their peers. In general BME students at Teesside felt supported and overall appeared happy with their experience of studying The main sources of information and support were the academic staff who are teaching them A key motivating factor is the potential for increased job opportunities. –Teesside has a facility in the Careers Service, called DiversiTees which provides opportunities for students from BME and other non-traditional student groups to be mentored by an external work-based mentor, who can also act as a role model.
Findings (continued) Some issues were discussed about the contribution family and friends make in supporting or hindering the learning experience for BME students. Some ethnic minority groups valued spaces which combined social aspects with learning, and they were using university learning spaces far more actively and regularly than other student groups. The student experiences of BME students are multi- layered –e.g. gender, age, religion and the origin of the ethnic community also shape their experience, not just ethnicity per se A small number of participants commented on the relative lack of knowledge exhibited by some staff of the particular concerns of some ethnic groups.
Recommendations Dissemination of the report around the University Submission of the report to Equality and Diversity Committee for discussion and possible action Staff development activities on supporting and teaching students from black and minority ethnic groups The University Retention Team will, on an ongoing basis, continue to monitor the statistics and liaise with Schools and programme/course teams on strategies which might impact on student retention and achievement.
Discussion points Do you think our findings could apply to your institution? What are the issues at your institution? – share your experience with people in your group What issues are shared, what issues are different? What are you already doing to encourage and engage BME students and support their success and achievement? What strategies can we develop to address the issues in our institutions?
Strategies Strategies will be discussed during the session and details recorded for dissemination to participants after the event. Contributing to this section will be staff from around the University who are supporting particular strategies
Thank you! If you require any further details or would like to discuss this further please contact Dr Diane Nutt Centre for Learning & Quality Enhancement University of Teesside Middlesbrough TS1 3BA email@example.com
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