Internal

Student Experiences in STEM degrees: A look into the life of undergraduates

A 3-year study funded by the University of Reading to explore student experiences and attainments in STEM disciplines, with a focus on understanding the difference in grades between students from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. This project will involve a basic literature review, analysis of statistics and interview data, as well as report writing.

Department: The Learning Hub

Supervised by: Dr Billy Wong

The Placement Project

This project is a collaboration between the Institute of Education (IOE) and the School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences (SMPCS). This is a social science research that aims to better understand how undergraduate students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) degrees feel about their experiences at university. We focus on student experiences and attainment, with a particular focus on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students in higher education. In UK universities, there is an attainment gap between BAME and white students, with the former statistically less likely to achieve a ‘good’ degree, even when prior attainment is considered. Existing literature suggests that the student experience, both socially and academically, are influential in their degree outcomes. This project is a collaboration between the Institute of Education (IOE) and the School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences (SMPCS). This is a social science research that aims to better understand how undergraduate students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) degrees feel about their experiences at university. We focus on student wellbeing, experiences and attainment, with a particular focus on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students in higher education. In UK universities, there is an attainment gap between BAME and white students, with the former statistically less likely to achieve a ‘good’ degree, even when prior attainment is considered. Existing literature suggests that the student experience, both socially and academically, are influential in their degree outcomes. This study focuses on undergraduate students as we attempt to understand how their experiences, wellbeing and sense of belonging develop at university, and how that may impact on their attainment. The placement will support and contribute to ongoing work, as well as the development of future research initiatives. Findings from this project will inform a critical reflection of current provisions for students, as well as future support that can strengthen the different dimensions of the student experience. This research contributes to the ongoing work of the University of Reading’s vision in Diversity & Inclusion and the Race Equality Charter.

Tasks

Below are tasks to be undertaken by the student. We will hold weekly progress reviews with the supervisors throughout the placement in addition to specific guidance sessions. After the initial induction and project briefing, the duties of the student will include: • To source, evaluate and synthesise relevant literature around student wellbeing, student attainment at university and the experiences of BAME students • To analyse qualitative, as well as quantitative survey data and data input • To take a lead on the presentation and writing of the findings The work will be planned in collaboration with the student, with guided training on qualitative interview, qualitative analysis (NVivo) and quantitative data analysis (SPSS/Excel) to support the student. The student will be encouraged to co-present project findings in the form of a short oral presentation to staff at the SMPCS, IOE and members of the Cultural Diversity group at the University level. There is also an opportunity for the student to co-write a report with the project team.

Skills, knowledge and experience required

Good verbal and written communication skills are essential, along with a good knowledge of quantitative and basic qualitative research techniques, data analysis and sound IT skills (MS Word, Excel). We will provide further training and support in these areas.

Skills which will be developed during the placement

The student will develop their ability to review literature, through practical experiences of searching, synthesising and summarising existing studies. The student will develop their skills in both quantitative and qualitative methods of research, with an opportunity to conduct interviews (if deemed feasible at the time), under guidance, and transcribe and undertake a basic data analysis. The student will also develop their capacity to apply statistical analysis techniques to quantitative data. Written and oral communication skills will be developed through a short written report and presentations to different and broad audiences. If the student chooses to undertake writing a report/paper following the placement they would gain valuable experience and insight into professional writing and the peer-review publication process.

Place of Work

At the University of Reading. Mostly in the Institute of Education, London Road Campus, but can also be at the School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences (SMPCS), in the Whiteknight campus.

Hours of Work

We require six weeks research assistance from a UROP student working hours to suit over the summer. Hours/Weeks are flexible and part-time is an option.

Approximate Start and End Dates (not fixed)

Monday 10 June 2019 - Friday 19 July 2019

How to Apply

*The deadline for applications to this project is Friday 26th April*. Students should apply by CV and one-page covering letter, outlining the reasons for their interest in the project, what they would hope to learn from it, and any skills, knowledge or experience that they feel that they would bring to the project. Please email applications to Billy Wong (b.wong@reading.ac.uk)


Return to Placements List

Page navigation

Search Form