The role of feedback in the under-attainment of ethnic minority students: evidence from distance education

Richardson, John T. E.; Alden Rivers, Bethany and Whitelock, Denise (2015). The role of feedback in the under-attainment of ethnic minority students: evidence from distance education. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 40(4) pp. 557–573.



In UK higher education, the attainment of ethnic minority students is lower than that of white students, and this remains the case when differences in entry qualifications have been taken into account. The present study investigated whether the under-attainment of ethnic minority students might be due to the nature of the feedback that they received for their assignments. The assignments submitted by 470 ethnic minority and 470 matched white students taking a distance learning course were compared using a computer system, Open Mentor, to categorise the feedback given by tutors based on a scheme devised by Bales. Asian and black students and students of mixed ethnicity obtained lower marks for their assignments than did the white students. However, there were only small differences between the ethnic minority students and the white students in terms of the pattern of feedback that they received, and these disappeared when the marks that they had received for their assignments had been taken into account. It is concluded that students from all ethnic groups received feedback that was commensurate with their marks, and that the origins of the attainment gap in ethnic minority students in UK higher education must be sought elsewhere.

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  • Item ORO ID
  • 40636
  • Item Type
  • Journal Item
  • ISSN
  • 1469-297X
  • Project Funding Details
  • Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
    Not SetNot SetThe Open University (OU)
  • Academic Unit or School
  • Institute of Educational Technology (IET)
  • Copyright Holders
  • © 2014 Taylor & Francis
  • Depositing User
  • John T. E. Richardson