Evidence based research

Evaluation and research is embedded in all aspects of our work with young people. We have partnered with researchers from the Lincoln Higher Education Research Institute (LHERI) at the University of Lincoln, to develop and conduct our regional Uni Connect evaluation. LHERI is committed to the study of Higher Education with a particular emphasis on impact evaluation, widening participation, student engagement, the quality of the student experience and the scholarship of teaching and learning. The University of Lincoln is a consortia partner institution of LiNCHigher.

Evaluation has been integral to assessing the Uni Connect programme from the outset, with the regional evaluation embedded within the Lincoln Impact Evaluation Framework (LIEF) https://lheri.lincoln.ac.uk/lief/.

Our evaluation assesses the outcomes of the delivery against the Network for Evaluating and Researching University Participation Interventions (NERUPI) framework using a range of mixed methods. Quantitative data has been collected predominantly through student surveys to assess the impact of all substantial outreach delivery such as campus visits, inspirational speakers and study skill workshops delivered virtually or in-person in school. Qualitative data has been gathered working with target case study schools, spread across the county incorporating student focus groups, observations of activity and staff interviews. While quantitative data allows us to answer ‘what’ and ‘how many’ questions, the qualitative data provides complementarity in terms of richness and depth and context and addresses ‘why’ questions.

Where possible, we have also integrate our evaluation with the Uni Connect  national evaluation conducted by CFE Research. Using data from the annual learner survey and activity data collected by the East Midlands Widening Participation Research and Evaluation Partnership (EMWPREP) for our analysis to avoid duplication of effort under a unique project called ‘Explaining the Gaps’(EtG). EtG sits within the wider Lincolnshire evaluation. Its main, and ongoing, objective is to create a databank from the Lincolnshire-specific responses to the learner survey in order to help LiNCHigher identify gaps and deliver effective outreach activities to specific groups of Uni Connect-target learners.

Publications from the evaluation team include a review of the literature relevant to the Uni Connect programme, an overview of the Explaining the Gaps project and the most recent programme evaluation report from October 2020.