Technology for Employability – HE Case Studies

November, 2015

Developing 21st Century Career Ready Graduates

Developing 21st Century Career Ready Graduates

The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) recently published a study into the role of technology in developing student employabilty, entitled Technology for Employabilty – HE Case Studies.

Amongst the case studies published was the University of Edinburgh – Developing 21st Century Career-Ready Graduates. This case study follows the development of various initiatives at the Edinburgh College of Art pre-merger and the subsequent cross-University developments post-merger.

In 2011 the University introduced the Edinburgh Award to support students in their wider learning while at the University. The approach enables students to control and manage their own development and confidently articulate the learning acquired and progress made through drawing on their curricula, co- and extra-curricular activities. A further dimension was introduced to the award and students now assess and provide peer feedback to each other anonymously online, using an Adaptive Comparative Judgement (ACJ) approach.

A new innovation was introduced in 2015 to further develop career readiness and to introduce self-reflection and assessment for learning approaches. It is a credit-bearing online undergraduate “self-defined learning experience” module called SLICCs (Student Led Individually Created Courses), underpinned by using e-portfolios to evidence the learning. For the summative assessment submission, students critically select various parts of all their formative reflections, documentation and digital artefacts, and bring these together as a formal submission in their webfolio along with a critically self-reflective and evaluative report. Students are also required to formatively self-grade the final submission. The summative assessment is then conducted by their tutors.

Technology Used

ECA designed and developed a bespoke Learning Management System to facilitate both the design of projects, managing the feedback, responses and actions generated by both students and staff and both the formative and summative assessment process and allocation of grades. At the end of each project students can compare ‘side-byside’ their graded self-evaluation and the staff assessment along with staff feedback, their own reflections on the feedback given and their intended actions as a consequence. The Edinburgh Award uses Adaptive Comparative Judgement software by Digital Assess to enable students to anonymously provide peer-feedback at the first draft stage and finally to summatively assess each other for the award itself.

“ACJ is like a crowd-sourced/social media style feedback and assessment tool, which is really innovative and very powerful. I can honestly say that it has been one of the greatest learning experiences for me during my academic studies at the University.”

Briana Pegado final year student and 2015 Students’ Association President, University of Edinburgh.


Edinburgh College of Art participated for the first time in the NSS after merger and achieved among the highest ratings for the questions around assessment and feedback in the University and in the sector for art and design. The process of requiring students to formatively self-reflect and self-grade throughout the programme has had a significant impact on improving how they articulate what they have achieved, including their acquisition of employability skills, particularly as in order to achieve some of the learning outcomes, students have to be able to demonstrate and articulate how they have achieved them. The use of the portfolio is fundamental to evidencing the quality and standards achieved in art and design disciplines. Increasingly this is being supplemented, and in some cases replaced, by online versions or e-portfolios.

Full case study can be found here.