The SAP2 project
In February 2017, the Student Attainment Project 2 (SAP2), was awarded Catalyst Funding by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, now the Office for Students. The SAP2 project was proposed in direct response to ‘Call B: Addressing Barriers to Student Success’. It was a collaborative project between the University of Derby (UoD; Lead Institution), Solent University and the University of West London, with the aim of building on and scaling up its original project (SAP1), which aimed to close the BME Good Honours attainment gap at UoD.
The aims of SAP2 have been to:
- work with partner HEIs to validate whether the approach of SAP1 could deliver benefits within other institutions;
- extend the SAP1 methodology to assess the efficacy of the approach in addressing attainment gaps in other contexts (e.g.: disability; socio-economic background) and
- provide evidence as to the best ways of sustaining beneficial outcomes within institutions. In scaling up the SAP1 approach, SAP2 took a three-stage approach, initially deploying a range of interventions across the partner institutions and subsequently evaluating their impact.
The institutions involved held appreciative inquiry events and a student writing retreat to assess the sustainability potential of the project work. Student Voice has been essential in this process. Students from all three partner institutions have engaged throughout the SAP2 project and continued student engagement is central to sustaining and developing our approaches to addressing disparities.
The most positive outcome of the SAP2 was the platform it gave the project team to open up discussions with academic staff around any attainment gaps that existed within their own programmes. As noted, addressing the attainment gaps in higher education requires an institutional discussion and awareness raising debates to engage all staff and students.
UWL PVC Student Experience, Sara Raybould, reported: ‘I feel that UWL students have benefited from our participation in SAP2 both directly and indirectly. Degree outcomes and employability rates have improved, and the ethnicity attainment gap has reduced. This assures us that all students are offered every opportunity and equitability to access and progress in Higher Education assuring value for money and a life changing experience.’
The work from the three institutions is presented in the SAP2 Website, which aims to raise awareness about degree attainment gaps in Higher Education (HE) and provide resources to support the HE sector to engage with and address some of the potential barriers to student success. A plethora of lessons learnt from the project teams, and effective good practice from academics and students who took part in the project are also disseminated in the SAP2 website.
Paul Byrne (SL in Prof. Skills and Retention Lead; SAP2 Champion) from the Claude Littner Business School (CLBS) shares with us how he embedded the ‘Fit to Submit’ intervention into his teaching and the positive outcomes this had on degree attainment. Many more case studies from UWL academics, and academics from the partners, who took part in SAP2 are also available in the SAP2 Website.
Student voice is disseminated via the website. The now widely performed ‘Black, Asian. Minority. Just me!’ dramatic piece, which presents actual experiences of students from all three institutions and is delivered by our London College Music (LCM) students is now available to watch.
Project Website – https://stuattainment.wpengine.com/
SAP2 Toolkit and other SAP2-related initiatives
This toolkit has been developed through the Office for Students funded: Addressing Barriers to Student Success, Student Attainment Project 2 (SAP2), led by the University of Derby (UoD) working in collaboration with Solent University (SU), and the University of West London (UWL). This toolkit is part of the SAP2 project dissemination and aims to provide key principles and learning from our project for others who may wish to consider taking a similar approach to addressing attainment gaps within their institutions. Download the toolkit in a PDF version
You can also use the ‘Guides for Success’ that is an updated study pack of the SAP2 Intervention papers that has been developed to meet the needs of UWL students. Feedback received from UWL academics made the guides even more inclusive. The guides for success contribute to an inclusive education and active learning. They are simple and easy to be deployed into class and online, and they encourage students to ‘review and reflect’ on their study skills. You are encouraged to use any of the guides which are relevant to your module(s).
In How simple guides contribute to an inclusive education and active learning you can see an example of how one of the guides, ‘Understanding the Assessment’, can contribute to an inclusive education and active learning.
The ‘Addressing the Gap’ paper presents information regarding degree attainment gap and UWL initiatives on address such gaps throughout the delivery of inclusive pedagogies and student experience at UWL.
Reference: Tatsi, E. & Darby, E. (2018). Addressing the Gap: Strategies for addressing the gap in educational achievement. NewVistas.
Evaluation of the OfS Addressing Barriers to Student Success programme
An independent report from WECD that summaries the findings from the Addressing Barriers to Student Success programme.
Eirini Tatsi, FHEA, MBPsS