In 2016 Durham University completed an institution wide analysis of student personal development which resulted in the recommendation for change and the development of the concept of academic, personal and professional development (APD) as an embedded principle for all students.
A technical solution was sought to provide a structure for sustainable APD which would facilitate the support of students and engagement with staff across the University. During the review of options available, PebblePad was identified as leading e Portfolio tool. It was seen to meet and exceed the institutions requirements to support reflective learning and recording, which was already being used by the institution to deliver sector-leading best practice.
An investment of resources and scaling up of existing licensing for PebblePad was secured and a staged implementation plan was established.
In December 2016 the university embarked on the first stage of the implementation ; the development of an institution-wide employability Award to address the ‘problem’ of students not recognising the skills they develop during their time at university or the value of their experience and activities. The Durham Award comprises of three stages that encompass the whole student lifecycle from the transition into an academic department, the journey through university life and the transition into work or further study. Structured workbooks were developed to provide the scaffold for students to evidence and reflect on their attainment of skills and attributes that are valued both by academics and employers with the final stage of the Award requiring students to provide evidence of employability, which employers assessed and provided feedback on. Focus groups and questionnaires were utilised to evaluate the attainment of project objectives and to determine the benefits of using PebblePad.
Driven by the success and lessons learnt from the Durham Award initiative the institution is now engaged in the next stage of implementation; scaling up activity and widening adoption of PebblePad. This includes increasing the use of ePortfolios and Workbooks for assessment within curriculum and exploring projects focused on improving staff-student relationships through more structured and transparent interactions, examples of which include; academic advising, placements, student progression monitoring and supervision processes.
Data collected during the second stage of implementation identified that the diversification of activity requires a change in the existing support model. To address this Durham has established a Special Interest Group and is developing a digital toolkit which will be used to reinforce the fundamentals of PebblePad, host training resources and showcase existing practice.
In this presentation we will consider if our existing activity facilitates APD and discuss the successes and challenges of the implementation to date. We will also share the findings of our evaluations and discuss the impact this has had on plans for future development.
Repositioning Employability for Student Success – An institution wide approach
http://www.insidegovernment.co.uk/blog/repositioning-employability/ [Accessed 13.03.2019].
PebblePad to underpin an institutional employability award at Durham
University. Available at:
Hay, D. McBride, D. (2018) The implementation of an institutional
employability award at Durham University