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Impact of inclusive assessment on degree awarding gaps

Impact of inclusive assessment on degree awarding gaps for Black, Asian and minority ethnic and mature learners

Sumayyah Patel supervised by Pam Birtill

About the student researcherPhoto of Sumayyah Patel

I am going into my final year studying Psychology. As a British Asian Muslim in a predominantly white university, I am passionate about improving the access and success of students from under-represented groups in higher education and grateful for this incredible opportunity to have a lasting impact.

Project overview

Degree awarding gaps persist nationally, and are particularly significant for Black, Asian and minority ethnic and mature learners. This gap cannot be attributed to any one reason but is instead a product of several complex contributing factors. Inclusive assessment practices aim to address these longstanding awarding gaps by adopting a range of principles like offering student choice, employing authentic assessment, and developing assessment literacy.

The current research is concerned with exploring staff perspectives and understanding of inclusive assessment, particularly in relation to the impact on the degree awarding gap for minority ethnic and mature students. This initially involved a desk-based literature search and developed into an exploratory qualitative study conducted through online interviews of academic staff at the University of Leeds.

The project aims to support the delivery of the Access and Student Success Strategy 2021 and is supporting the development of Curriculum Redefined workshops. The current planned outputs include:

  • short article detailing findings from previous literature
  • presentation and research proposal for the university’s disciplinary-wide Student Success Forum
  • an infographic resource for dissemination


The future direction of this research is:

  • Findings to be disseminated further via presentations at Student Education Conferences as well as the production of a narrated PowerPoint presentation ready for distribution
  • Working with Curriculum Redefined to develop workshops that bare staff perspectives and insights on assessment and their challenges in mind
  • Informing the Student Access and Success Strategy 2025, namely via calling for
    • strategic alignment between the Student Access & Success Strategy, Assessment Strategy and Personal Tutoring strategy
    • Shaping future research considering the ‘hidden student experience’ via student voice


You can see a blog article by Sumayyah sharing current understandings of the inclusive assessment landscape on the University of Leeds Student Success site. Sumayyah's research findings are detailed here.