Evaluation of the National Levelling Up Widening Participation Pilot Programme
Helen Cramman, Helen Gray, Maria Ana Chavana, Durham University, Institute Of Physics, London Mathematical Society
The stated seven areas in which the programme desired to have impact were: 1. Participants aspire to study chemistry, physics, mathematics, or a directly related STEM discipline to their programme subject, at university. 2. Participants apply to a high ranked university as listed in in the Times Good University Guide. 3. Participants aspire to study at university (in any subject). 4. Participants aspire to study at their Levelling Up host university. 5. Participants consider that the programme
... as helped them achieve higher grades at A level in their subject. 6. (Chemistry and Physics) Students consider that the programme has helped them achieve higher grades at A level in maths within their subjects. 7. Participants received offers to study the courses which they have applied for on their UCAS applications. Evaluation The evaluation of the programme sought to answer two overarching research questions: 1. Have the intended impact aims and outcomes for the Levelling Up programme been achieved? 2. Is it reasonable to conclude the Levelling Up programme of activities contributed to the achievement of these impact aims and outcomes? The evaluation used a Contribution Analysis Framework to answer these questions, which is a robust method of undertaking evaluation of widening participation programmes with small numbers of participants in complex programmes (TASO, 2022). To address the research questions, the evaluation utilised a concurrent triangulation mixed methods approach, collecting data in sequential stages with the first stage informing the development of the data collection tools in the second stage (Creswell et al., 2003) . Data were collected using: start of programme participant application form, baseline and end of programme surveys, focus groups, interviews, and observation of training sessions and a tutorial session. Analysis was carried out in detail at two timepoints during the project (interim and end-point), with the findings from the interim analysis informing the development of subsequent data collection tools. At both timepoints, qualitative and quantitative data were analysed independently with the findings integrated at the data interpretation stage.