Accessing and assessing appropriate widening participation data:an exploration of how data are used and by whom

Holland, Natalie Jane and Houghton, Ann-Marie and Armstrong, Joanne Elisabeth and Mashiter, Claire (2017) Accessing and assessing appropriate widening participation data:an exploration of how data are used and by whom. Studies in Continuing Education, 39 (2). pp. 214-233. ISSN 0158-037X

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When attempting to use data to inform practice and policy, the availability, accuracy and relevance of that data are paramount. This article maps the range of users interested in data relating to the UK11 Data requirements for England, Wales, Scotland, and N Ireland vary according to the complex remits of government and devolved administrations in the UK. Although the issues discussed in this paper predominantly relate to the English context, we argue, this does not detract from the central arguments presented regarding common and widely shared concerns relating to data collection and use by different users working within a HEI and the HE sector more broadly. View all notes widening participation (WP) agenda. It explores some challenges associated with identifying, defining, obtaining and using data to inform decisions about targeting and monitoring WP initiatives associated with student access, achievement and progression. It considers the pragmatic and strategic response by different users of institutional WP data within the UK. We use examples from previous institutional and commissioned WP research and evaluations undertaken over the past decade to illustrate some of the tensions concerning the access and assessment of WP data. We argue that whilst the increasing interest in WP participation data and evaluative feedback is commendable, attempts to establish a causal link between WP activity and changes in student awareness, aspiration, access and achievement are not straightforward. The diversity of producers, uses and users of WP data working in different sectors and institutions produces many challenges. The paper concludes with suggestions on ways data could be improved.

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Journal Article
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Studies in Continuing Education
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This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Studies in Continuing Education on 07/03/2017, available online:
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31 Jul 2017 15:00
Last Modified:
10 Jul 2022 00:37