Teaching Innovation Awards Winner

Kingston University

Department of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Dr. Neil Williams, Dr. Gemma Shearman, Dr. Richard Singer


The BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) awarding gap is of concern across the Higher Education sector, with particular importance at Kingston University given the high proportion of students who are from a BAME background. Within the Department of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences, the largest difference in module average grades for 2017/18  between BAME and white students was for core first-year chemistry modules. With the aim to close this award gap, educators within the department aimed to make the curriculum and assessments more inclusive.

Prior to this in 2016/7, the chemistry pre-lab LearnSci library was implemented into teaching to allow lab activities to be experienced both within and outside the laboratory setting. Kingston University recruits students from a wide range of non-traditional educational backgrounds and these resources were particularly useful for those who had done little practical work before. These resources also supported the use of digital practical skills badges enabling students to evidence their competencies.

To address inclusivity, fourteen Smart Worksheets across chemistry modules were developed to replace in-class practical lab reports. A first attempt provided instantaneous feedback on errors whilst the second attempt allowed students to act on feedback immediately to improve their performance and demonstrate understanding. Building marking criteria for accuracy and precision into the Smart Worksheets enabled the assessment of data quality to be objective and rapid, as well as reducing the marking load. Greater emphasis on the quality of the students’ raw data in the assessment of their practical work was also made. Immediate provisions of marks and feedback meant students could act on it in time for subsequent laboratory classes. There was an immediate improvement in the award gap, along with an overall increase in submission rate and quality of work.