SLICCs (Student-Led, Individually-Created Courses)
Student-Led, Individually-Created Courses provide a reflective learning and assessment framework for experiential learning using an e-portfolio.
Student-Led, Individually-Created Courses (SLICCs) offer a reflective learning and assessment framework, using an e-portfolio, for students to gain academic credits for experiential learning and to develop both personal and professional skills and attributes. Experiences could include: a professional development internship, work experience, volunteering or research project.
SLICCs are flexible and can be used at any level from pre-honours through to masters-level courses, both for individual students and for groups. For students, the SLICCs experience provides a novel way of receive academic credit, shaping their educational experience, increasing their assessment literacy, professional skills and building their employability.
The whole SLICCs process is based within reflection and through this students report that their ability to and value of reflection significantly increases.
Takeaways may include:
- Experiential learning provides significant opportunity for student development. However, reflection is essential for ensuring students get the most value from these experiences.
- While not all students will initially see the value in reflection, providing a positive experience of reflection where its benefits are clear, encourages students to see the value of reflection and choose to use it themselves in the future. Academic credit can be a significant driver in getting students to meaningfully engage with reflection.
- Particularly for those new to reflection, providing a clear structure within which students can reflect and providing reflective prompts to guide students is critical.
- Using reflection as an assessment allows to reward learning from mistakes, problems, and challenges. This is in contrast to most other forms of assessment, where the student need to ‘do everything right’.
- Clear and robust assessment criteria and rubrics are essential for both students and staff when students’ reflective work is being assessed, both formatively and summatively.
- Providing the structure and disciplined approach within the incentive of academic credit, helps drive students’ initial engagement that then turns into a positive reflective mindset and habit.
|Location of practice:||Various. The SLICCs reflective learning and assessment framework is being used by staff across the University to structure their own courses.|
|Reflectors:||Students of any level and any year group|
|Facilitators:||Staff across the University – course organisers and tutors|
|Context:||Reflection is used throughout the SLICCs and is a crucial for both the process and the assessment.|
Staff: On average, SLICC tutors spend 3-4 hours per student throughout a SLICC.Students: SLICCs are typically awarded 20 credits and therefore relate to 200 learning hours, although this can vary by course. While the majority of those hours come from the experience reflection ties them together and features throughout
Student-Led, Individually-Created Courses (SLICCs) allows student to gain academic credits for experiences, which can happen both inside and outside the mainstream university curriculum. SLICCs’ framework can wrap around any experiences such as a professional development internship, work experience, volunteering or research project.
The SLICCs framework:
- is applied across the whole spectrum of experiential projects, tasks and opportunities;
- is based around an e-portfolio of reflective blogs, evidence and reports;
- is used across academic fields, with individuals or groups of students, different years, and in single- or inter-disciplinary ways across centres, programmes, schools and colleges;
- require students to better recognise and articulate their development through experiences, and increase their learning and assessment literacy;
SLICCs either have students propose their own learning experience, for example activity in a profession or organisation or self-directed research, or the learning experience is designed by staff and lie within existing programmes or disciplines.
Where students propose their own learning experience, the SLICCs process is heavily self-directed. SLICCs give students the opportunity to self-tailor their own academic course, tied to the experience they wish to undertake, mapping out their own structure. Where the learning experience is designed by staff, students are still responsible for managing their own learning process within this and have high levels of freedom.
SLICCs are delivered using the PebblePad platform – this contains a structured space for each element of students’ SLICCs: proposal, reflective blog, evidence collection, interim reflective report, and final reflective report.
Reflection in context
The SLICC framework is designed to develop students’ reflective abilities and their learning and assessment literacy. It places values on the learning opportunities that come from dealing with problems, challenges and mistakes. These are often ‘penalised’ in other assessment methods. In contrast, the SLICCs’ assessments places value on the student’s ability to articulate, reflect upon, and learn from experiences, regardless of the success of the experience itself. It is therefore okay for a student not to complete everything they have set out to do as long as they have been able to reflect and learn from the process.
In the SLICC framework, students propose their own plan around a chosen project. They start to define their anticipated learning based on five generic learning outcomes, which are aligned with the University’s Graduate Attributes. Students must re-interpret these in the context of their own anticipated learning experience.
A staff tutor will through feedback offer students guidance on how to maximise the available opportunities and the learning from them. Allowing students to reflect on and engage with their anticipated learning before the experience has begun is a key step in the SLICC framework, enabling students to better recognise the extent of their learning throughout.
The student then undertakes their project, frequently reflecting on their learning in a regular blog, while collecting evidence of that learning in their e-portfolio. The evidence can be take any form as long as it is relevant.
Students are provided with formative feedback on an ‘Interim Reflective Report’, where the students reflect on their learning and their progress towards achieving their personalised learning outcomes. This SLICC ‘Interim Reflective Report’, and feedback on it, then forms the basis of the final summative ‘Final Reflective Report’ of their learning journey and achievements.
Introducing and implementing reflection
Students receive online support on reflection and its importance within their SLICC. It is provided through a resource package that introduces the purpose of reflection overall and its place within a SLICC specifically, along with a variety of reflective models.
Students are required to reflect at least weekly throughout their SLICC and are strongly encouraged to use a reflective model to help structure their reflections. Students are given ideas and prompts for what they may wish to capture in their reflective blogs, but ultimately the content is mostly driven by the individual student, and they are encouraged to capture both expected and unexpected experiences. The number of reflective blog entries is entirely up to the student but should provide sufficient evidence throughout the experience to show their engagement with the SLICCs’ learning outcomes.
Responses to reflection
While students’ initial awareness and perceptions of reflection is very variable at the beginning of a SLICC, staff consistently see a significant increase in students’ reflective ability over time and the value students see in reflection.
This allows students’ reflections to move from more surface-level accounts to insightful and meaningful reflections that aid personal, professional and academic growth. Equally, supporting and assessing reflection is new for some SLICCs tutors, however the resource pack available to students and staff are proving effective in building people’s capacities, understanding and recognition of the value of reflective practice.
Midway through their SLICC, students submit an Interim Reflective Report that takes an overview of their progress and learning so far. Students receive guidance on how to address the five learning outcomes within their report, and how to draw on their reflective blog and evidence collection within this.
Students receive formative feedback from their SLICCs staff tutor, which then should directly inform students’ Final Reflective Reports. In combination with the provided example reflective blogs and interim and final reflective reports, this feedback is essential in deepening students’ reflective abilities during the SLICCs process.
For the final submission, students are also required to self-assess their own work. This in on itself becomes a reflective exercise and require students to take more responsibility for their learning.
To ensure that both students and staff fully understand what is required in the reflective reports, detailed assessment criteria are provided and are highlighted from the very beginning of the SLICC process. Students and staff are referred to the assessment criteria and rubric as the go-to place to guide their thinking and planning. This will also support students and staff when either self-assessing or assessing.
The SLICCs framework is growing in its use across a highly diverse range of settings and levels (from pre-honours through to masters-level courses). This highlights the growing importance and value of experiential learning within higher education, and fundamental to this is the reflective process without which the gain is much more limited.
Student feedback consistently highlights the value they see in reflection once they have been through the SLICCs process – providing the structure and disciplined approach within the incentive of academic credit, helps drive students’ initial engagement that then turns into a positive reflective mindset embedded in their academic and professional practice.