Guest lecture at the University of the West of England

Split image, with the UWE logo in red on the left hand side and a photo of the UWE campus on the right. The campus is a modern wood and glass building against a blue sky.

On 31st January, Katherin and Valentina were invited to give a guest lecture at the School of Education and Childhood of the University of the West of England in Bristol.

The lecture was delivered as part of the Policy and Contemporary Issues module offered to the students enrolled in Post-Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) for Early Years, Primary, and Secondary education.

The lecture – titled Inequalities and bias in schools: using big data to detect injustices – provided an overview over ‘traditional’ and recent academic research on socioeconomic and ethnic inequalities in education, focusing especially on the role of teacher-student relationships and school and classroom environments.

BIPE preliminary findings on teacher bias were presented, providing an example of how academic research making use of big data can be used to engage in conversations with educational practitioners and policy makers. Students were encouraged to be diagnostic in recognising the influence that big data has today on educational policy and critically evaluate its value, limitations, and complexity, especially when considering the topic of biases and inequalities in existing across schools in England today.

After the lecture, the students had the chance to engage in reflective and creative group activities in their seminar groups. Guided discussions encouraged PGCE students to critically discuss BIPE preliminary findings on teacher bias in light of their own experiences and views and reflect on potential strategies and changes to fight such biases.

Participant feedback was very positive highlighting both the interest in the topic and its relevance for their own professional development. Particularly, as the students had just finished their first 3-month placement in primary and secondary schools, they found the opportunity to relate their own first-hand placement experiences to the academic research and findings presented very useful and motivating.

If you are interested in hearing more about our teacher workshops, further information can be found on our flyer.

Slides from the workshop can be found on our ‘Teaching materials’ page.

Katherin presents at the University of Bamberg

University of Bamberg logo and name in German

Katherin presented initial results of the project at the Oberseminar of the Chair for Sociology (Social Stratification) of Professor Cornelia Kristen at the University of Bamberg. The title of the presentation was ‘Social and ethnic biases in primary school: Preliminary results from a study of teacher perceptions of students’ academic attitudes’.

The abstract for the presentation was as follows:

This study aims to investigate socioeconomic and ethnic biases in teachers’ perceptions of students’ attitudes to school. Here, we define a social or ethnic bias in teacher perceptions of the student’s attitudes as discrepancy between a teacher report of a student’s attitude (e.g., how much student finds school interesting, enjoys school, etc.) and the student’s own report that is systematically linked to the student’s socioeconomic status or ethnic background.

This talk presents results from a study using large-scale secondary data for England – the British Millennium Cohort Study (MCS). In a first step, a residual method was applied to estimate the discrepancies between teacher and student perceptions, and in a second step, the residuals were regressed on student socioeconomic and ethnic background, as well as a number of confounding and mediating variables. Preliminary results show important socioeconomic and ethnic biases in the teacher perceptions.

The study will be extended by corresponding analyses for Scotland (Growing Up in Scotland) and Germany (National Education Panel Study). The multi-country approach will enable us to explore how “macro-level factors” such as education policy and teacher training influence teacher bias. In this talk, theoretical assumptions on the possible impacts of such “macro-level factors” will be discussed.