The black award gap


  • Kate Coulson University of Northampton



award gap, learning development, impact, tutorials, assignment submission


The Learning Development team at the University of Northampton has been developing research projects to understand the extent and potential causes of award gaps (Coulson and Loddick, 2020; Loddick and Coulson, 2020; Coulson, Loddick and Rice, 2021). However, the team was not prepared for other findings that emerged from this research related to the Black award gap. Firstly, Black students who engage with a tutorial can see an improvement of up to 4 sub grades. Secondly, analysing award gap data revealed that the Black award gap could be reduced by 50% by eliminating non-submission of assignments.

This mini keynote outlined the projects that have been developed: a project with Black students within the Foundation degree framework to ascertain why they might not submit their assignments and a second project to engage ‘Black Student Advocates’ will also be outlined. The challenges of this work were also shared.

Questions posed:

  1. How has your institution approached the Black award gap?
  2. How might you contribute to the reduction (or elimination) of the Black award gap?
  3. Can we eliminate the Black award gap?

Author Biography

Kate Coulson, University of Northampton

Kate Coulson is the Head of Learning and Teaching Enhancement at the University of Northampton. She is a strong advocate of Learning Development and the impact it can have on student outcomes. Kate was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship in 2022 and Associate Professor status in 2023 for her work in developing and championing Learning Development practice.


Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (2021) ‘Ethnic, socio-economic and sex inequalities in educational achievement at age 16.’ Available from: (Accessed:12 July 2023)

Coulson, K. V. and Loddick, A. (2021) ‘Non-submission of assessment – the impact on the BAME award gap.’ Association of Learning Development in Higher Education Annual Conference. Online. 9 April 2021.

Coulson, K., Loddick, A., Rice, P. (2021). ‘Exploring the Impact of Learning Development on Student Engagement, Experience, and Learning.’ In Huijser, H., Kek, M., Padró, F.F. (eds.) Student Support Services: University Development and Administration. Springer, Singapore. doi: 10.1007/978-981-13-3364-4_19-1

Loddick, A. and Coulson, K. V. (2020) ‘The impact of Learning Development Tutorials on student attainment.’ Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (17). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi17.558




How to Cite

Coulson, K. (2023) “The black award gap”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (29). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi29.1111.

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