Why is the BME attainment gap such a wicked problem?

AUSTEN, Liz, HEATON, Caroline, JONES-DEVITT, Stella and PICKERING, Nathaniel (2017). Why is the BME attainment gap such a wicked problem? The Journal of Educational Innovation, Partnership and Change. (In Press)

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Abstract

This paper outlines a research process which followed a case study approach (Yin 2009) to explore the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) student attainment gap, and responses to it, at Sheffield Hallam University. A mixed methodology was envisaged, which would triangulate institutional data, measures of student engagement, focus groups and researcher reflections to construct an analysis of interventions aimed at enhancing confidence and belonging for BME students. This discussion focuses on the challenges experienced by the research team and uses the notion of a 'wicked problem' to help understand the limitations faced. 'Wicked problems' (Rittel 1972, see Conklin 2005) are entrenched in social complexity, which increases in line with the diversity of the associated stakeholders. These problems have the ability to divide opinion, provide limited solutions and to lay blame for lack of results. This research examining the BME attainment gap can be critiqued using this notion of a 'wicked problem' noting that, without recognition, this issue has the potential to become ubiquitous and almost unsolvable.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: student engagement, BME attainment gap
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Student Engagement, Evaluation and Research
Depositing User: Liz Austen
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2017 13:47
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2017 00:00
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/16212

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