The speakers for this event are Clare Gartland, University of Suffolk and Roberts Zivtins, Imperial College London. There will also be case study presentations from NERUPI members as well as workshop activities on the theme of student ambassadors, how they are used in widening participation and how their impact is evaluated.
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Most HEIs now employ students to work as outreach ambassadors and peer mentors to support access and student success interventions. However, there is very little research into the effectiveness of this strategy and the impact of their involvement. Dr Clare Gartland, University of Suffolk, will draw on findings from two research studies, in the UK and US, exploring student ambassador STEM outreach activity with school age students. The studies reveal the potential of ambassadors to support progression to HE and to challenge younger students’ self-identities. The studies also point to problems in the organisation and funding of outreach activity. During the presentation Clare will discuss challenges that can hinder ambassador outreach activity in effectively reaching and engaging with large numbers of young people from under-represented groups. The need for a sharper focus on pedagogy in the organisation of outreach activity will also be discussed. The presentation will highlight the need to identify and support best practice and will suggest ways theory can be used to support research and evaluation and promote effective and far reaching ambassador outreach activities.
Roberts Zivtins, Imperial College London, will next present on results from a sector-wide survey on widening participation ambassadors, exploring and comparing practices across NERUPI Network member organisations. Results are grouped into five broad areas: organisation level information on ambassadors, selection and recruitment, training, working practices and finally, the evaluation of ambassadors. Using the insights gained from NERUPI members, Roberts will describe how ambassadors are deployed, explore how far they help members to meet NERUPI aims and consider issues for future research and evaluation.
This will be followed by student ambassador case study presentations by NERUPI members and workshop sessions in the afternoon.