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Dr Paul Ian Campbell (Leicester University)

Keynote speaker for the Black Awarding Gaps and Decolonisation Forum, Thursday 9 March 2023

Photo of Dr Campbell speaking

“My family’s always like, make sure you pray that the person marking your work isn’t racist”: Identifying and measurably reducing racial inequities in HE assessment practice

The relationships between race and ethnicity and assessment in British Higher Education Providers are subtle and complex. They manifest in different aspects of the assessment process, which intersect and translate into unequal award outcomes and uneven levels of satisfaction and enjoyment for students from minority ethnic backgrounds, when compared to their White peers. Higher Education Providers have responded to this situation by largely focusing on making course content inclusive, via a growing number of attempts to decolonize the curriculum. By contrast, seldom has this body of inclusion work examined ‘assessment’ as part of the plethora of racially exclusionary systems in HE, which contribute to the marginalisation and privilege of students from minority ethnic backgrounds.

Consequently, we know relatively little with regards to some rather routine questions, such as: What race-based inequities exist in assessment and what is the extent to which these barriers are intrinsic to specific assessment types or connected to wider pedagogical practice? Or to the ways in which wider social and cultural factors – and proxies for race - such as socio-economic background, cultural capital, location and so on, intersect, influence and may contribute to inequities in satisfaction and to the performance of different heritage students in particular forms of assessment? How might we begin to measure and capture the efficacy of attempts to make the experience of assessment more racially equitable?

Drawing on his sector-leading work in this area, Dr Paul Campbell, the inaugural Director of the Leicester Institute for Inclusivity in HE, reports on some of the introductory responses to these questions.

Related links:

See Dr Campbell's presentation slides here.