Student Mental Wellbeing within our BAME and LGBTQ+ Learner Communities

Rachel Simpson, Heather Gray

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

Abstract

This collaborative cluster on Student Mental Wellbeing for Black, Asian And Minority Ethnic and LGBTQ+ Learner Communities formed part of the 2020-23 Enhancement Theme Resilient Learning Communities. The key work of this cluster was to build the capabilities of academic staff to create inclusive curricula and learning communities that promote a sense of belonging and mental wellbeing for students from our Black, Asian And Minority Ethnic and LGBTQ+ communities. The team included a student researcher and delivered; four professional development events, a review and collation of key publications, the exploration of lived experiences of students through a nominal group. Outcomes from the student group, literature review, and attendee evaluations from professional development events shaped numerous recommendations for academic and support experiences across Scotland’s Higher Education. These, report outputs from the cluster, alongside full recordings of the four professional development webinars available in the full report published on the QAA Scotland webpages.

In total, there were 814 registrants across the four events. Of this, 600 converted to attendee status, with events ranging from 196-210 attendees per event. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic all events were offered as online webinars. The webinars were organised specifically so that each one addressed content that represented issues from both Black, Asian And Minority Ethnic and LGBTQ+ student communities in recognition of intersectionalities. Across the four events there were seven presentations from eight presenters covering a wide variety of factors that can impact upon student mental wellbeing, such as: inclusivity in STEM subjects; undertaking a whole institutional approach for the student learning experience and curricula; the mental health impacts on Black, Asian And Minority Ethnic and LGBTQ+ students of teaching practices and curricula; and practical recommendations on how to meaningfully engage specific learner communities. Following the four events, a short electronic survey was distributed to all webinar registrants in which they were asked to respond to questions on: a) their understanding of mental wellbeing within Black, Asian And Minority Ethnic/LGBTQ+ student communities following the webinar(s); and b) their confidence in taking some positive change action(s).

When exploring the impacts of curricula on student experience and wellbeing, it is essential to include those with lived experiences of these to ensure that students are at the heart of co-creating any recommendations for making curricula more inclusive. The Nominal Group Technique (NGT) is a consensus development methodology that has its roots in co-creation in communities, therefore, was considered an appropriate data collection method. Research ethics approval was attained from GCU’s Academic Quality and Development Research Ethics Committee to carry out a nominal group with students who self-identify within, and/or represent those from, LGBTQ+ or Black, Asian And Minority Ethnic student communities. Recruitment invitation communications were circulated via SPARQs, QAAS and NUS Scotland, alongside other networks to engage students from across the Higher Education sector in Scotland.

The student nominal group was conducted online, during which participants had the ability to remain anonymous, should they wish to. Participants were asked to generate as many responses as they could to two set questions and type them synchronously in a shared Google spreadsheet, after which the items generated were clarified and similar responses were amalgamated. The two questions students to which participants generated responses were: ‘What factors have you experienced within the academic curriculum that have impacted negatively upon your/other students’ mental wellbeing?’ and ‘What key suggestions do you have for academic staff to consider when developing inclusive curricula?’. From the lists of generated responses each participant selected and ranked their top five most important items from 1 (most important) to 5 (least important). Equal rankings were permitted. Data was analysed using Microsoft Excel to establish the items that were top ranked by the most participants; thereby reaching a level of consensus. Median rank scores were also calculated for each item.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherQAA Scotland
Commissioning bodyThe Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sep 2021

Keywords

  • student
  • mental wellbeing
  • curriculum

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