Researching OU Student Voices – the degree awarding gap and our OU Students twitter community

Post graduate students Rehana Awan and Olivia Kelly will share their research into Open University study as part of Student Voice Week.


The countdown to Student Voice Week is on!

Read on to learn more about the speakers attending the ‘Researching OU Student Voices’ session taking place on Friday 19 November from 13:30-14:15pm.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly has been working with the Open University as an Associate Lecturer for over fourteen years and will be joining us for the session as a Postgraduate student. Her research aims to better understand how Twitter is used by OU students to build a community. 

Associate Lecturer Olivia Kelly

Here’s what Olivia has to say about her research:

“I’ve been working as an AL with the Open University for fourteen years. I am also a keen Twitter user and I’m currently researching how OU students use Twitter alongside their studies to communicate with other OU students and possibly build a support community. 

“My talk will firstly outline the issues that some OU students face around feeling part of a student community and how Twitter may help with that. I will explain how I plan to carry out my research on OU related tweets as well as show some of my early findings from the data collection. I will finish by explaining how this may benefit OU students and distance learning in general.”

Rehana Awan

Postgraduate student Rehana Awan

We will also be joined by Postgraduate student Rehana Awan.

Degree awarding gaps have been a long-standing issue amongst many universities. Rehana’s research aims to address such gaps within the Open University in the hopes to advance equality and social justice.

Rehana says: “Inequality in education in the UK has been widely reported in relation to socio-economic status, gender, and race. These are reflected in the broader disparities that exist within the UK (NUS, 2019).

“One such educational disparity in Higher Education is that Black and Brown students are less likely to be awarded a ‘good’ pass degree (a First or Higher Second)…

“Despite the OUs’ mission to be ‘Open to people, places, methods and ideas’, its policy of open access and commitment to social justice, we have an awarding gap of 30.5% between White and Black students.

“My research project aims to gather the narratives of Black and Brown students to determine how an Access course can contribute to closing the degree awarding gaps at the OU. By giving a voice to those who are often left unheard it is hoped a better, deeper, and richer understanding of the issues will be gained and used to inform future practice from module design to policy initiatives.”

There is still time to register if you would like to attend this session, just head over to the Student Voice Week timetable to find out more.

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