Exploring learning development from the perspectives of black students


  • Kate Ikonte University of Northampton
  • Sheryl Mansfield University of Northampton
  • Beth Garrett University of Northampton




learning development, perspectives, black students


There has been little research into student perceptions of learning development tutorials despite learning development having existed in most institutions for over twenty years.  Analysis from annual demographic data from tutorial attendance at the University of Northampton shows that over 25% of tutorials are attended by students identifying as Black. More Black women use the LD provision than Black males and even fewer Black males under the age of 20 use the service. This mirrors the findings of Coulson and Loddick (2020) who acknowledged, in research on learning development and student attainment, that students from a Black ethnic background, particularly females, were more likely to attend tutorials. However, there has been little research into the reasons for this.

This presentation concluded the findings of an internally funded collaborative project to explore the perceptions of Black students and learning development.

Due to the nature of investigating a sensitive topic, it was deemed essential that a project assistant was employed who has lived experience and identifies as Black. The project assistant predominantly conducts the research with Black students and gains their perspectives during focus groups or interviews. The project has been planned to ensure that the project assistant influences the research by offering autonomy to design the project and recruit participants. It is hoped that this project will offer a unique perspective to inform learning development practice and provision. By the time of the conference the project will have finished and we will be able to offer an insight into the findings.

Author Biographies

Kate Ikonte, University of Northampton

Kate Ikonte is a Masters student at the University of Northampton. She is a researcher for the funded project exploring the perspectives of Black students and learning development. Her main area of expertise is Information Technology with a focus on business analysis, which aims to bridge the gap between business objectives and IT Solutions.

Sheryl Mansfield, University of Northampton

Sheryl Mansfield has been a member of the Steering Group since May 2020. She is Head of Learning Development at the University of Northampton. She is an Advance HE Senior Fellow, a Certified Leading Practitioner in Learning Development and Qualified Teacher. Her background teaching Sport Science in Further and Higher Education institutions has offered a plethora of experience actively engaging learners. Her research interests include inclusive teaching and participatory research.

Beth Garrett, University of Northampton

Beth Garrett is a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of Northampton, having previously served as the President of Northampton Students’ Union, during which time she launched an initiative to recruit a team of Black Student Advocates at the University. Beth joined the Office for Students as a TEF Student Panel Member during the 2023 TEF exercise and has experience of governance in higher education. She is currently working towards a PhD, focused on student leadership in UK Universities. Her research interests include teacher identity, self-efficacy, the use of technology in education, Black students’ experiences of education and leadership in education.


Coulson, K. and Loddick, A. (2020) ‘The impact of Learning Development tutorials on student attainment’, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, Issue 17, May, pp.1-24. https://doi.org/10.47408/jldhe.vi17.558.




How to Cite

Ikonte, K., Mansfield, S. and Garrett, B. (2023) “Exploring learning development from the perspectives of black students”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (29). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi29.1075.

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