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Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team


TLN – Jenny Marie & Pam Houston – Supporting personal tutors in supporting key skills

By Matt Jenner, on 16 February 2011

Today’s Teaching and Learning Network presenters are Jenny Marie from CALT and Pam Houston from the Division of Biosciences and they were talking about the key skills programme and personal tutors. This included information for those at UCL for key skills and in particular, how Life Sciences are using the personal tutorial system to help develop key skills and visa versa.

Why would we develop key skills?

Jennie Marie presentingJenny Marie starts by introducing key skills. In a recent session between the LTSS and academics, key skills came out top for academics in terms of the institutional priorities. Key skills underlines so much at UCL, including the transition process into the institution and recording the skills a student has obtained when they leave. A student’s academic life also flows into their employability and life skills.

In addition, some great resources are around to help out, Skills4Work, a Moodle course, MyPortfolio, Key Skills Grid and the Key Skills Website which pulls all these resources together and provides more general information and links to other sites and resources. Links below.

Student key skills is managed all within Portico, if a personal tutor logs in they can view their student’s profiles, history and reports. Students must produce evidence for a key skill and some are using MyPortfolio as a blogging tool and to upload evidence for their tutor to view.

Pam Houston – Biosciences tutorial scheme

Pam houston - presentingPre-transition programme they made their own mentoring scheme, but since the transitions programme was running they have supported and recruited mentors to settle new starters into the university. There is one second / third year mentor for eight first year students, most of whom have had some mentoring experience before.

The students had a personal tutor but as students can take modules from all over the faculty, picking a tutor is not that obvious or clear. By implementing the new tutoring system the students received a much more structured tutoring programme. This included a platform for key skills awareness and training which was married with an established a link with their personal tutor, which stayed the same throughout the years of study. This helped the employability of the student as the tutor could write a better statement about the student and make them more employable.

Biosciences wanted to identify student skills and find some common skills development for the department. The also wanted some materials customised for the department, so they seemed more relevant. They ended up grouping key skills into four sections, academic, self management, communication and interpersonal. This was conducted over a ten week period which covered essay writing, invigilated essay writing, feedback on the essay, key skills development, Turnitin submission, feedback on their submission, the Originality Report produced and how to critique a scientific paper. The module was branded as PHOL1001. It was noted as a not very expensive course to run after the first initial setup.

The outcomes included students being were more engaged and found they could prove where their obtained their key skills from UCL. From a tutor’s perspective; they got to know their students a lot better and as their student’s employability shot up, the number of letters of recommendation came down.


More information on the TLN programme page for this event.

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