Writing for publication for widening participation practitioners
This project sought to improve evaluation of widening participation practice in higher education by matching up practitioners with academic mentors.
It aimed to:
- enhance the relationship between widening participation practitioners and academics
- raise the profile of robust evaluation of widening participation activity nationally and internationally
- support widening participation practitioners to present evaluations of their practice in refereed academic journals, enabling practitioners and academics to share their work with broader audiences.
“I was thrilled to be selected for the […] project; as someone working in an evaluation role in a widening participation team, with lots of reports under my belt but no academic publications, it sounded perfect. Meeting with peers once per month to learn about another aspect of writing for publication, hearing from skilled academics, working with a mentor – the whole process was thoroughly rewarding and I was sad when the year was over! The project helped me to navigate the world of academic publishing in a way that I would have found challenging otherwise. With the help of the programme, I’m pleased to say that my first paper ‘The financial circumstances associated with high and low wellbeing in undergraduate students: a case study of an English Russell Group institution’ was published in The Journal of Further and Higher Education in January 2018.” – Jessica Benson-Egglenton, participant, Queen Mary University of London.
Why did we do this?
OFFA has asked institutions to take a ‘whole institutional approach’ to widening participation. One way to achieve this is through greater integration of practitioner led evaluations and academic evaluations of widening participation practice.
Through discussions with those involved in evaluating widening participation activity, we identified a desire among practitioners and academics for opportunities to add value to each other’s work. In particular, greater collaboration would allow practitioners to develop their skills in writing for publication, and academics to increase their understanding of practice outside of an academic lens.
In our most recent access agreement guidance, we have asked institutions to take an increasingly evidence led approach, improving evaluation and monitoring to ensure they continue to accelerate the rate of progress towards meeting the Government’s social mobility goals. Disseminating effective practice is essential to allow widening participation teams to learn what works elsewhere, improving their own evaluation processes and increasing the impact of their access agreement activities.
Our access agreement guidance also encourages institutions to build communities of academics and practitioners, both within their own institution and across the sector by contributing to a shared understanding of effective practice. This project supported institutions to meet this challenge.
One day writing event
A one day event took place on Wednesday 21 September 2016 in London for those interested in the scheme to explore some of the challenges in publishing research and evaluation. The day included practical writing activities, sharing of ideas for papers, and the opportunity to apply for places on the longer programme.
We also publicised the launch of the programme with a press release.
One year writing programme
A one year writing programme for widening participation practitioners took place in England between November 2016 and September 2017. We selected 18 writing projects from nearly 30 submissions, three of which have multiple authors. Twelve academics kindly agreed to give up their time as mentors, including both newer and more established academics with roles ranging from academic development to research, widening participation management and teaching. Mentors and mentees were carefully matched on the basis of subject focus, methodologies and type of paper.
Throughout the year, we held a series of workshops to support the programme in London, Sheffield and Bristol to support the practitioners’ writing. Workshops covered the process of producing and disseminating a research paper from start to finish, including writing and research techniques, abstracts, academic posters, literature reviews, methodology, presenting findings and submitting papers to journals. The programme in England was mirrored in Australia by the University of Newcastle, Australia.
Completed research projects
The following projects were completed in England:
- The influence of family estrangement and homelessness on student success, Becca Bland, Stand Alone
- White working class boys: the issue of categorisation in HE widening participation, Jade Hunter, Suznne Hewings and Amy Suddards, University College London
- Widening participation study abroad summer school, Elaine Warrener and Nick Lowthorpe, University of Hull
- White ‘working class’ boys: challenges for widening participation policy and practice, Paul Blagburn, Univerity of Warwick
- Defensive othering: theorising British Pakistani and Bangladeshi women’s strategies and constructions of self-identity within higher education and the labour market, Farhana Ghaffar, Oxford Brookes University
- Supporting the access and transition of mature learners into higher education through a programme of targeted interventions, Kelly Barnett and Michael Khachatour, Kingston University
- A transformative approach to access and engagement in higher education: a case study of analysis of an alternative ‘campus culture’ at Coventry University College, Anthony Aylmer, CU Coventry
- A systematic review of the relation between peer assisted learning schemes and student success: a widening participation perspective, Michael Hall and Sarah-Louise Collins, University of Winchester
- Widening access to selective universities: an evaluation of the academic enrichment programme, Shaheen Barkat, University of Birmingham
- Reaching out to boys: understanding male participation in post 16 outreach activity, Helen Smith, University of York
- Student success and student funding: investigating disadvantaged undergraduates’ retention and attainment when they are in receipt of university financial support that is allied with non-financial support interventions, Matt Dollery, University of Leeds
- The financial factors associated with high and low wellbeing in undergraduate students: an institutional case study, Jessica Benson-Egglenton, Queen Mary University of London
- Engaging primary school children: a schools science fair engaging widening participation students with STEM careers, Andrew Ross, University of Bath
- The more colours you add, the nicer the picture: why are BAME students underrepresented on arts degrees? Nienke Alberts, London Higher
- ‘Blurred boundaries’ – encouraging greater dialogue and understanding between student recruitment and widening participation, Chris Bayes, University of Liverpool
- Using personal data to identify participants for widening participation outreach activities: taking a more research led approach, Katherine Sela, University of Surrey
- The widening participation iceberg: engaging with the source or the sympton of underrepresentation? Gino Graziano, University of Sussex
- Live, learn, grow: supporting care leavers accessing higher education, Emily Fuller, University of Newcastle
- Understanding the study to work transition experience of Australian university graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds: a scoping study, Gayl Purchase, Western Sydney University
- Evaluating effectiveness and experiences of HEPPP funded initiatives: an ecological, inter-disciplinary model, Greer Lamaro Haintz, Deakin University
- Mental health and wellbeing of Australian university students ‘on the radar’, Helen Scobie, University of Newcastle
- ‘Taking away the smoke and mirrors’: praxis, pedagogy and perspectives from teaching academics in an Australian university enabling program, Jennifer Stokes, University of South Australia
- Exploring university student volunteering in widening participation and outreach, Katy Head, University of Sydney
- Bringing together insights from the literature and practitioner observations: AVID as one strategy to challenge the ‘hidden curriculum’ in schools, Lauren Hines, University of Newcastle
- Inclusive education teacher professional learning, Nicola Cull, Australian Catholic University
- Australian higher education outreach programs engaging with parents to support the higher education aspirations of students from regional and low socio-economic areas: a literature review, Suellen Priest, Charles Sturt University
- Family support for first-in-family students at university, Suzanne Macqueen, University of Newcastle
- Doing diversity work in an Australian university: insights from an initiative designed to improve campus culture for transgender students, Tara Payling and Taryn Dorrough, University of Newcastle
- Non-English speaking background (NESB) students in Australian higher education, Dr Teresa DeFazio, Victoria University
Emerging findings event
On Wednesday 1 March, the participating practitioners presented posters showcasing their research projects in progress at an interactive event hosted by Sheffield Hallam University.
New findings from the sector conference
On Wednesday 13 September, the participating practitioners and academic mentors came together for a conference hosted by Sheffield Hallam University to present their research papers and take part in interactive writing and research workshops. Slides are available for the following presentations:
- What journal editors are looking for in an article
- Writing and disseminating widening participation practice: leaving a legacy
What will happen next?
It is our hope that a selection of the papers produced through this programme will be published in special issues of national and international peer reviewed widening participation journals.
Rae Tooth, Head of Strategy and Change, OFFA
Professor Penny Jane Burke, Director, Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education, University of Newcastle, Australia
Vicky Ratcliff, Australian Government Department of Education
Want more information?
For further information about this project contact Rae Tooth, OFFA Head of Strategy and Change (0117 931 7171, firstname.lastname@example.org)