University of Edinburgh (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2014 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Pages: 2796-2803
ISBN: 978-84-616-8412-0
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 8th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 10-12 March, 2014
Location: Valencia, Spain
This paper looks at the "Unfold" project which is currently piloted at the University of Edinburgh as a way of enhancing its personal tutor system.

At the beginning of the 2012/13 academic year, the University began introducing the personal tutor system for all students. The new arrangements are the frontline of academic guidance and support at the University. The system is underpinned by a schedule of individual and small-group meetings between Personal Tutors and their Tutees. The primary focus of such meetings is on the provision of academic advice and support, facilitating self-critical reflection on progress and feedback, supporting the development of personal and professional attributes and developing self-efficacy.

From September 2013, the "Unfold" project has been piloted as a way of supporting the personal tutor meetings. Through "Unfold", selected personal tutees are invited to engage with different sets of reflective templates (shared via the PebblePad e-portfolio system). The templates are organised into the online ‘Unfold’ workbooks. The workbooks’ structures are updated regularly before each of the face-to-face meetings. Every subsequent section of the workbook encourages a tutee to look back, record and reflect on issues which are later discussed with their personal tutor. If completed systematically, such collections of personal students’ reflection can become rich records of their university journeys. While students become more self-aware, their personal tutors access the workbooks to prepare more targeted and adequate advice.

Promoted as a "kick-start to students' self-reflection", the "Unfold" approach is being trialled with a group of personal tutors from three selected areas (Biology, Biomedical Sciences and Education). Each of the areas are introducing their own subject-sensitive reflective templates. Before the personal tutor meetings, students are expected to respond to a range of questions about their day-to-day issues, their graduate attributes’ monitoring as well as reflections on assignments and feedback. Moreover, looking at the pilot from the institutional perspective, it can be argued that using e-portfolio-based templates to support the re-emergence of personal tutors might rekindle a new incarnation of the long-awaited e-portfolio revolution (which has not yet happened).

In addition to exploring the initial feedback from the "Unfold" participants, the paper is also addressing:
- the project’s plans for more seamless integration with the central university students’ records,
- the barriers created by the latest e-portfolio tools which are feature rich and complex,
- newly developed ideas and strategies for promoting reflective learning amongst undergraduate and postgraduate students.
Reflection, e-portfolios, personal learning.