Skills Forge (information literacy)
- Research Information Network, University of York
- Yorkshire and North East
- Date first submitted:
- 29 Sep 2010
- Date last modified:
- 29 Sep 2010
- Researcher-led activities
- Personal effectiveness
- Research project skills
- Career development
- Postgraduate researchers
- Doctoral researchers
Rationale, aims and outcomes
What is the rationale for doing this?
How does it fit with institutional strategy?
What are the main features of the provision?
What are the aims and expected outcomes?
It provides a single point of contact for students and supervisors to take ownership of managing skills, development and progression. As an electronic resource it has greatly simplified some of the tasks involved and has therefore reduced the barriers to engaging with PDP. It has also provided a 'brand' on which the PDP process can be based.
Across the HEI it has helped with efforts to monitor research postgraduate activity and to reduce administrative overheads.
Some notable features for students:
- Embedded Joint Skills Statement and training needs analysis
- Online course booking
- Development transcript
- Action point setting
Features for the supervisor:
- Electronically signed supervision records
- Access to a students’ skills and development information
- Automated course booking system
- UK Border Agency monitoring
- Paperless progression forms
Skillsforge aims to improve the student and supervisor experience, increase uptake of PDP and training opportunities, lower costs, and to improve PhD completion rates.
Are there any pre-requisites for engagement, e.g. levels of skill, years of experience, essential pre-activities?
How many participate in each 'activity'?
There are no pre-requisites. The system is designed to support all types of PhD researcher, regardless of subject area or previous experience. Use of Skills Forge is entirely optional and over 75% of students are currently using the system on a regular basis.
Evaluation: benefits, challenges and next steps
How do you monitor effectiveness?
Who do you seek feedback from?
Do you have benchmarks?
When all researcher development activity is captured consistently, simply and in one place there are clear benefits for students, supervisors, departments/faculties, and central administrative functions. We feel that user satisfaction is the most important measure; and this has been consistently high.
The main challenge is encouraging students and supervisors to engage with the system. Use of the system is not mandated at York. Once the concepts and benefits are explained we find that people are easily won over and recognise how it can benefit them with their research and future careers.
The Skillsforge team are continually working to enhance the offering, through technological development and through engaging with users.
There is much potential to be explored for further reductions in administrative overheads, for simplifying institutional requirements placed on students and supervisors, and for reducing costs.