Collaborating on KCLxBIT

By Anne-Marie Canning, King’s College London | 

The KCLxBIT project has been a two year collaborative project between the Widening Participation Department, Policy Institute at King’s and the Behavioural Insights Team. Partnership working is a core feature of how we make change in widening participation so it makes sense that partnership could play a full and innovating role in improving the evidence base.

The Widening Participation practitioners brought in-depth understanding of the target audience, the university eco-system and the needs of non-traditional learners.

The Behavioural Insights Team brought their confidence and expertise with data and RCTs, alongside field experience and superlative knowledge of behavioural economics.

The Policy Institute brought political nous, connections and academic oversight.

Together our contributions were greater than the sum of their parts.

The project was administered through a weekly Skype meeting with a clear set agenda and space given to debate and iteration of ideas. We invested in an early doors away day to spend some quality time thinking over major issues in the project. Documentation was consolidated on a shared drive and a ‘query log’ (copyright Susannah Hume 2016) made sure that blockers were resolved and accountability was in place. An academic steering group oversaw our activity and included Professor Jennifer Rubin, Professor Anna Moutford-Zimdars and key members of staff from King’s College London.

A valuable spin out from the project has been our ongoing collaboration with the Harvard University Behavioural Insights Group and their immersive field project. Last year a team of PhD and MBA candidates worked with us to help develop solutions for parental engagement in higher education access, the result of which is going to trial with a large number of schools in the coming year.

We also brought in students and recent alumni to assist with the project – using their skills, expertise and communication strengths we were able to make the project much more vibrant and relevant. Special thanks go out to the generous Ryan Wain and Maia Rowe-Sampson who acted as our near-peer What I Wish I’d Known Presidents and were the face of our bursary club.

Ultimately, what makes partnerships successful is a shared interest. The motivating interest here was the desire to help improve outcomes for widening participation learners. This was shared by everyone working on the project from the Chief Scientist of the Behavioural Insights Team to the wonderful interns who packed the letters we sent out. Our varied perspectives and diverse backgrounds made the project better and more ambitious.

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