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Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning

 
A wet floor caution cone on a train platform

Research question

What are Cambridge staff and student understandings of the role and value of content notes in helping students to engage with their study materials without risk to their mental health?

 

Project team

  • Emma Carey, postgraduate student studying Psychology
  • Emrys Travis, postgraduate student studying Modern and Medieval Languages
  • Maja Lezo-McFarlene, undergraduate student reading Archaeology

 

Project report

Report: Content Notes Project (PDF)

 

Abstract

This project aimed to ascertain the usefulness of content notes at the University, and investigated whether their use could mitigate the awarding gap between students with and without mental health conditions. The team investigated barriers to the widespread use of content notes with the goal of resolving student demand with staff reluctance.

The research involved three data collection methods:

  • a short survey sent to disabled students at the University
  • a more in-depth survey sent to our student co-researchers to gain richer qualitative information about how content notes may be beneficial
  • a survey sent to staff members about their practice and ideology regarding content notes

The findings highlight how and why content notes are useful to students, including their specific impact on students with mental health conditions. The project identified concerns by staff, both erroneous and genuine, about the use of content notes, and considered how barriers to their consistent implementation could be overcome to support students with mental health conditions in their attainment and retention at the University.

 

Output

This project was awarded funding by the Cambridge University Diversity Fund to create a Guide to Content Notes for Faculties and Departments.

A more thorough exploration of the findings from this project can be read in the Teaching & Learning Newsletter article authored by Emma and Emrys.