The experience of BAME students on a psychology undergraduate dissertation module

Xuereb, Sharon (2023). The experience of BAME students on a psychology undergraduate dissertation module. International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education / Revue internationale du e-learning et la formation à distance, 38(1)



In higher education in the United Kingdom (UK), students from ethnic minorities get lower grades than White students. This study focused on the experiences of Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students completing an undergraduate psychology dissertation module. Self-determination theory (Ryan & Deci, 2000) and intersectionality (Crenshaw, 1989) underpinned this study. A reflexive thematic analysis (Braun & Clark, 2006) methodology was used. Eleven BAME students engaged in individual interviews about their lived experience when completing an undergraduate psychology dissertation module. Participants spoke about the following five themes: module content, tutor, project, other students, and ethnicity. Participants who wanted to research ethnicity-focused topics had tutors with insufficient understanding of the topic. When interacting with tutors and peers, participants stopped to consider whether their ethnicity would negatively impact how they were perceived. They reported challenges in understanding the material and engaging in academic discussions, and they spoke about inconsistency amongst tutors. Students discussed how locating the relevant information took up time, which was particularly worrying for students with work or family commitments. These findings indicate that universities should diversify their staff and student pool and ensure students have access to supportive and effective tutors. Students should be sufficiently prepared for the dissertation module, and assessment and marking guidance should be communicated clearly to both tutors and students. Furthermore, module materials should capture achievements of minority populations.

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