BME student experience report

Black business man pointing up isolated over white

Title: Co-researching beyond the category: a thematic analysis of a student-led focus group study into BME student experiences at the University for the Creative Arts

Author: Steve Dixon-Smith
Co-researchers: Adeola Elugbadebo-Solomons, Bethan Dadson, Samuel Ntim Ababio, Kanndiss Riley
Project sponsor: Allan Atlee, Head of the School of Architecture, UCA

Executive Summary


This report documents a project that set out to generate awareness and understanding of the student experience of BME students across the four UCA campuses in order to aid the development of inclusive practices that complement the diversity of the student body. It provides a thematic analysis of focus group data collected and filtered with the assistance of a team of four student co-researchers working under a ‘students as partners’ model of participatory research. The analysis is followed by a series of institution specific recommendations that respond to a recent HEFCE (2015) commissioned report setting out key areas for Higher Education Institutions to address in relation to these issues. Continue reading

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How can induction tutoring help with retention?

People Studying In A Library

Report authors

  • Lynda Fitzwater (Senior Lecturer, Fashion Promotion and Imaging)
  • Katie Allder (Senior Lecturer, Fashion Promotion and Imaging)

Executive summary

This qualitatively-researched cross-campus UCA report highlights course leaders’ views on level 4 tutoring practices and retention. Email and phone interviews after 2017’s resits, facilitated retrospection. We asked two initial questions around retention, attrition and withdrawal; How is tutorial support for stage one students working on your course? How do you experience this as linked to retention, attrition and withdrawal?

As an institution, we need to respond resiliently to shifts in the HE landscape. The research has shown the demand and need for additional pastoral care and support, and training for lecturers to provide professional for this demand in ameliorating issues with withdrawal. This, in addition to ‘getting to know…students quickly…through regular conversations in the classroom and day-to-day passing’, are all essential for student retention alongside increasing student confidence, mental health and financial issues.


Continue reading

Posted in First Year Experience, Inclusivity, Retention, Student Centred Learning, Student Engagement, Wellbeing | Leave a comment

Universal Design for Learning – Heidy Waywell


Inclusive education through Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Despite the growing emphasis on the need to improve inclusivity in higher education, it can sometimes be difficult to understand what this looks like in practice. In this webinar, Heidy Waywell and Tony Reeves will be discussing the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework, a set of practical guidelines to help educators provide more inclusive learning opportunities to enhance student achievement.

You might also find this quick guide to UDL useful:


Posted in Curriculum Design, How Students Learn, Inclusivity, Podcasts, Student Centred Learning, Webinars | Leave a comment

Digital tools for researching and collaborating – Tony Reeves


Digital tools for researching and collaborating

There are so many digital tools that it’s hard to know which ones are useful. In this episode, Tony Reeves explains how the following digital tools that can help you and your students find and store information, and collaborate on projects:

  • Twitter (for finding information)
  • Feedly (for following blogs)
  • Google Scholar (for finding articles)
  • Diigo (for bookmarking and annotating webpages)
  • Evernote (for storing notes)
  • Zotero (for storing references)
  • Trello (for creating and collaborating using lists)
  • Slack (for collaborating on projects)
  • Google Docs (for working on shared documents)


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Walking and learning – Rosie Holmes

Rosie Holmes, Learning Support Coordinator at UCA Farnham, explains how she walks with her students to help them achieve a deeper level of learning and reflection.


Rosie’s recent research ‘Walking towards a more embodied pedagogy’ explores the benefits of incorporating the body and walking into teaching and learning practices in order to enable a much deeper level of learning, reflection and creativity. The historical background to walking and thinking indicates that walking has long been a highly valued activity for many philosphers, writers and artists. Continue reading

Posted in How Students Learn, Inclusivity, Learning Support, Podcasts, Student Centred Learning, Webinars, Wellbeing | Leave a comment

Engaging students as creative problem causers – David Anderson


Engaging students as ‘creative problem causers’

In this episode, David Anderson, course leader of BA (Hons) Advertising at UCA Farnham, discusses why he positions his students as ‘creative problem causers’. David explains how his course prepares students to question everything, and emphasises the need for greater emphasis on questioning strategies in creative education. At the same time, the discussion reveals how the uncertainty required for effective questioning can often stifle opportunities for creativity in teaching, learning and curriculum design.

Posted in Creative Education, How Students Learn, Podcasts, Student Centred Learning, Webinars | Leave a comment

Wellbeing strategies that work – Ruth Torr

Ruth Torr, Course Leader in Acting and Performance, shares the strategies she has developed to help her staff and students discuss mental and physical health to improve wellbeing and achievement.

Ruth has also kindly shared some of the presentations she uses to get students thinking about these topics:


Posted in First Year Experience, Inclusivity, Podcasts, Webinars, Wellbeing | 1 Comment