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Following these brief overview of the nature of the Fellowship scheme run by the Higher Education Academy (AdvanceHE) there is a PDF (printable to A2) which outlines both the UKPSF and the category descriptors of Fellowship. For the official view see

Professional recognition at one of four categories of Fellowship, as capable academic practitioners, has been largely delegated to tertiary institutions through accredited programmes, either in the form of taught postgraduate awards (PGCerts usually) or internal Continuing Professional Development (CPD) schemes. Let's be honest these schemes vary in their...'robustness'. They are all intended to enable practitioners to evidence their engagement with the UKPSF (United Kingdom Professional Standards Framework) and they are accreditated against that standard. As the Framework starts to be adopted outside of the UK it is more often now being referred to as the PSF. For non-UK based institutions engaging with the PSF there is support available too on the HEA website:

What can be a little confusing for some is the interpretation of the descriptors associated with each of the four categories of Fellowship. The video above is an attempt to clarify, as does the poster below, the difference between thinking of the Fellowship as categories of roles, rather than as 'levels'. Levels imply that continuing to be a competent, even excellent, practitioner that one can gradually climb up the 'levels from Associate through to Principal Fellow. It is clearer I think when explaining Fellowships to new (or indeed experienced) academics to think about the nature of each fellowship category, its focus and purpose.

The way I do this is to discuss with applicants (and those responsible for drafting institutional schemes) alternative naming conventions for each category. So that Associates denotes a Teaching Fellowship, Principal a Strategic Fellowship and so on. See the table below for my interpretation.

Official and Postnominal Alternative Focus of Category
Associate Fellow AFHEA Teaching Fellow Supporting Students learning
Fellow FHEA Academic Fellow The breadth of academic practice
Senior SFHEA Leadership Fellow Academic leadership in learning and teaching within discipline across department, faculties or institutions, or of enhancement themes outside of narrow disciplinary boundaries
Principal Fellow PFHEA Strategic Fellow Strategic leadership of learning and teaching within department or faculty, or development of institutional enhancement agendas normally with reference to external actors.

Clearly, this does not prevent any individual from perceiving their impact in a way that assessors may not. They might believe their impact to be much greater, or less than it actually is. They may focus on the internal impact and neglect significant external impact. They may have a different notion of what represents a strategic impact in learning and teaching. However, I suggest that exploring the terminology is a useful way to support people rather than to assume that individuals understand the difference between categories.

Below is a PDF (3.2MB) which can be printed as an A2 sized poster for reference. Click on the image.

Visual of a downloadable PDF describing the UKPSF and Fellowship
A2 printable PDF describing the UKPSF and Fellowship

I persist in being a fervent advocate for the use of a broader range of domains of learning, other than the cognitive domain (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001; Bloom, 1956), in course design.

Higher education must surely be more than just about acquiring content and intellectual skills. A broader student experience should be embedded into each course, module and programme design, beyond that of acquiring purely intellectual skills.

The 'graduate skills' so demanded by employers are rarely without reference to so-called 'soft skills' (S. P. Atkinson, 2015). These are interpersonal domain skills, conflict resolution, cross-cultural awareness, collaboration and communications are what most graduates need most (J. C. Atkinson, 2014; Bennett, 1986). Alongside these the skills, often assumed by employers, to make effective use of software pertinent to that profession are rarely taught and assessed despite being critical to be effective on the day one. These skills can be set out and assessed using psychomotor domain outcomes (Dave, 1967). Such non-intellectual attributes are often seen by faculty as beyond their remit, as are also those values, the affective domain (Krathwohl, Bloom, & Masia, 1956) and the development of personal epistemologies using a metacognitive domain (S. P. Atkinson, 2014) which form part of the maturation process within students themselves. These cannot be 'taught' in the strict sense, but their facilitation is entirely within the capabilities of able faculty.

Given that we know students are more likely to take anything assessed seriously, it is essential to write assessable outcomes across a range of skills. So, it is beholden on course designers to include the interpersonal domain (communications, cross-cultural awareness, conflict resolution), affective domain (values), metacognitive domain (personal epistemologies) and the psychomotor domain (manual and dexterity skills). Each has its place in all disciplines. There is clearly a craft in designing ILOs that motivate and steer learning but which are transparent and assessable. There is guidance on how to do that under the 8 Stage Learning Design Framework 8-SLDF and I am always willing to share practice with colleagues in workshops when requested.


Anderson, L. W., & Krathwohl, D. R. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing : a revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: Longman.

Atkinson, J. C. (2014). Education, Values and Ethics in International Heritage: Learning to Respect. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing Group.

Atkinson, S. P. (2014). Rethinking personal tutoring systems: the need to build on a foundation of epistemological beliefs. London: BPP University College.

Atkinson, S. P. (2015). Graduate Competencies, Employability and Educational Taxonomies: Critique of Intended Learning Outcomes. Practice and Evidence of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 10(2), 154–177.

Bennett, M. J. (1986). A developmental approach to training for intercultural sensitivity. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 10(2), 179–196.

Bloom, B. S. (Ed.). (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook 1: Cognitive Domain (2nd edition). New York: Addison-Wesley Longman Ltd.

Dave, R. H. (1967). Psychomotor domain. Presented at the International Conference of Educational Testing, Berlin.

Krathwohl, D. R., Bloom, B. S., & Masia, B. B. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook II: Affective Domain. New York: David McKay Company, Inc.



Workshop aligned to UKPSF A5, K5, K6, V3

It may seem strange to design our evaluation structures before we have even recruited students onto our programmes. We need first to understand the distinction between assessment, feedback and evaluation. It is then important to explore both the evaluation of learning experiences and evaluation for-learning, which I will refer to as in-class evaluation for the sake of consistency.

The pages associated with this blog, stage 8 of the 8-SLDF, explores 5 basic concepts that underpin the evaluation of learning.

  1. Distinguishing between Evaluation, Feedback and Assessment
  2. Measuring Student Performance versus Teacher Performance
  3. In-class evaluation versus Post-Completion evaluation
  4. Learning Gain
  5. Progression: Access, Retention, Pass Rates, Grades, Completion and Destination

Explore the pages associated with the evaluation stage at


Workshop aligned to UKPSF A1-A4, K3-K4, V1, V4

This post is a summary of the page for Stage 7 of the 8-SLDF, and the fourth element in a constructively aligned course design approach, which is feedback throughout. Closely reflective of both our assessment practice and our learning activities, feedback is best fully integrated into the learning rather than seen as a separate administrative response to submitted work. Designing feedback throughout opportunities in our courses will lead us to adopt variations in our learning activities and potentially to modify our assessment strategies too. Reviewing our strategies for feedback at this stage in the design process allows us to ensure that we can adjust our ILOs, assessment and activities if necessary to accommodate meaningful feedback throughout.

There are four concepts which we need to clarify or define, for this stage of the 8-SLDF. These are:

  • Formative Feedback
  • Feedback for learning
  • Feedforward
  • Feedback throughout.

Four types of feedbackThey all feature in a well-structured feedback approach to any module or programme in higher education, regardless of whether it is a classroom/seminar based module, online or blended course. They are explored fully on the Feedback pages.


psychomotor domain"Why do I need to worry about manual skills? I teach history/French/maths...". My answer is simple. What tools are used in the pursuit of your discipline? Is there not a degree of increasing proficiency in the deployment of these tools expected of students they progress through their studies?

Psychomotor skills can be defined as those skills and abilities that require a physical component. Rather than using the mind to think (cognitive) or reflect (metacognitive), or our ability to speak and observe to develop social skills (affective, interpersonal), these are things we do physically. These skills require a degree of dexterity, suppleness, or strength. They require motor control.

Such skills have been in development since parents taught their children to hunt, to sew skins together and make fire. There is a rich history in vocational education towards acknowledging progressive skills development, from apprentice to journeyman and to master (Perrin, 2017), dating back before the establishment of craft guilds in the European High Middle Ages (Richardson, 2005). As the craft guilds loosened their grip, as industrialisation centralised the production of goods and ultimately services, some skills have been lost, others divided, segmented, into a series of tasks. Formal education has routinely separated cognitive and manual skills, giving primacy to intellectual skills above all others (Gardner, 2011).

With the growth of formalised vocational education, noticeably in the OECD developed economies in the 1950s to the 1970s, attention turned amongst policymakers as to how to codify and measure progressive skills development. These resulted in the development of a number of educational taxonomies for objectives (or outcomes in later language) notably those of Simpson (1972), Harrow (1972) and Dave (1969). It is understood that Ravindra Dave was party to Bloom's project team's original 1950s work on the cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains although all three significant contributions have to some extent referenced Bloom's work.

Simpson (1972) established a progressive taxonomy with 7 stages.

Stage Descriptor
Perception* Sensory cues guide motor activity.
Set* Mental, physical, and emotional dispositions that make one respond in a certain way to a situation.
Guided Response First attempts at a physical skill. Trial and error coupled with practice lead to better performance.
Mechanism The intermediate stage in learning a physical skill. Responses are habitual with a medium level of assurance and proficiency.
Complex Overt Response Complex movements are possible with a minimum of wasted effort and a high level of assurance they will be successful.
Adaptation Movements can be modified for special situations.
Origination New movements can be created for special situations.

Arguably Simpson's first two stages are dispositional and can be separated from the remaining 5 stages. Likewise, Harrow's (1972) 6 stage taxonomy organized around the notion of coordination is less of a  progressive educational taxonomy given that it combines involuntary responses*, arguably interpersonal skills** and learned capabilities:

Stage Descriptor
Reflex movements* Automatic reactions.
Basic fundamental movement Simple movements that can build more complex sets of movements.
Perceptual Environmental cues that allow one to adjust movements.
Physical activities Things requiring endurance, strength, vigour, and agility.
Skilled movements Activities where a level of efficiency is achieved.
Non-discursive communication ** Body language.

My personal belief is that less is more in the context of psychomotor taxonomies and favour the following 5 stage version developed by Ravindra H. Dave (1970) in the context of vocational education.

Stage Descriptor
Imitation Observing and copying someone else.
Manipulation Guided via instruction to perform a skill.
Precision Accuracy, proportion and exactness exist in the skill performance without the presence of the original source.
Articulation Two or more skills combined, sequenced, and performed consistently.
Naturalization Two or more skills combined, sequenced, and performed consistently and with ease. The performance is automatic with little physical or mental exertion.

I have adapted Dave's psychomotor taxonomy in order to make it suitable for the articulation of intended learning outcomes for higher education programmes, regardless of disciplines.

Dave Stage Atkinson's Stage Revised Descriptor
Imitation (to) Imitate ability to copy, replicate the actions of others following observations.
Manipulation (to) Manipulate ability to repeat or reproduce actions to prescribed standard from memory or instructions.
Precision (to) Perfect ability to perform actions with expertise and without interventions and the ability to demonstrate and explain actions to others.
Articulation (to) Articulate ability to adapt existing psychomotor skills in a non-standard way, in different contexts, using alternative tools and instruments to satisfy a need.
Naturalization (to) Embody ability to perform actions in an automatic, intuitive or unconscious way appropriate to the context.

I have then chosen to represent this revised version of the psychomotor domain as a circular form (as I have done with other domains). This develops the active verbs appropriate to each proto-verb for each stage which can be used to design course designers in authoring intended learning outcomes and learning activities and their objectives. The outer circle also suggest possible, but not exclusive approaches to allowing students to demonstrate such skills development in the context of higher education.

psychomotor domain

But what again of the academic who says, "I teach history (or maths, or French, or nearly any higher education discipline), what do these skills have to do with me and my students?"

My answer is simple. What tools are used in the pursuit of your discipline? Is there not a degree of increasing proficiency in the deployment of these tools expected of students they progress through their studies?

Examples of tools used in higher education across a range of disciplines are not hard to come up with. Once you start thinking about it I am sure you can add many more:

Discipline Tools (physical, paper-based or online)
Languages Dictionaries, Thesaurus, Lexicons
Maths Calculator, MathML, Geometry software
History & Philosophy Mapping software, archival retrieval, databases
Geography GIS (Geographic Information Systems), Mapping software, Spatial databases
Psychology and biology Response systems, lab equipment
Physics and Chemistry Modelling and visualisation software, lab equipment
Accounting and Business SPSS, Accounting software, Spreadsheets
Music Instruments, recording equipment
Dance & Performance Lighting rigs, sound equipment

More advanced students expected to record and analyse quantitative or qualitative data are likely to also be faced with using SPSS or its equivalent of NVivo or its competitors. And of course, all students should be expected to make use of the library search engines and associated bibliographic software. Most will also use word processing software (Word) and presentational software (PowerPoint).

Do we assume that the skills to use these skills are simply absorbed through some form of osmosis, through casual exposure? Can we realistically expect undergraduates to have 'done this at school'  or for postgraduates to 'come already equipped from their undergraduate degree'?

Obviously not. So what do we do about it as course designers and teaching faculty? Firstly we need to design our courses through a systemic approach. But we can also make use of the psychomotor taxonomies above to structure assessable intended learning outcomes. We know that students are focussed on where the assessment points to. They engage in anything that is directly assessed and ignore anything that appears peripheral. So by designing into a module's ILOs the psychomotor skills associated with the tools of the discipline we are able to:

  • motivate students
  • encourage their real-world assessment skills
  • deliver employment skills

Unless there is an absolute, universally agreed, brand name associated with a tool it is always best to refer to it more generically. For example, it is better to refer to 'GIS systems' rather 'ArcGIS', or 'professional audio mixing equipment' rather than 'Studiomaster ClubXS'.

The same guidelines on creating well-structured progressive ILOs for intellectual skills (cognitive domain) still apply. As with all ILO it is important to be a precise and concise as possible while all the while trying to preserve a degree of flexibility. 

Structure of all ILOs follows the same pattern: Active Verb -> Subject -> Context.

Below are some examples. Each one makes use of my taxonomy circle above demonstrating a progression in complexity should a student be required to develop increased proficiency towards mastery through an undergraduate or postgraduate degree.

This first example is from a humanities discipline in which archival databases and library-based sources more often than not require some manipulation. Consider the difference between what is being asked of a first-year undergraduate and that of a postgraduate masters student. Remember this is just one of a number of ILOs for this particular module.

Discipline: History On successful completion of this module you will be able to:
Level 4: First Year UG replicate searches of valuable sources of historical research data for the purpose of  verification
Level 5: Second Year UG employ a range of different search engines and archival systems to produce a meaningful dataset
Level 6: Third Year UG organise a systematic search of historical records in order to answer a pre-determined research question
Level 7: Masters manage searches across a range of remote web-based services to provide a robust dataset

You will also notice that I have not made the mistake of identifying a specific archive or database. So your resources can change without you having to rewrite your ILOs.

In this next example, from a physical science discipline, instruments are named but only using their generic name rather than a specific model or brand for the same reason. The progressive theme here is measurement.

Discipline: Physics On successful completion of this module you will be able to:
Level 4: First Year UG adhere to prescribed methods for using Vernier callipers to make accurate measurements
Level 5: Second Year UG manipulate a range of micrometres to perform precise measurements
Level 6: Third Year UG calibrate an oscilloscope to accurately measure time-variance in voltages
Level 7: Masters integrate a range of different lab equipment in order to support the accurate recording of experimental data

Finally, here is an example from languages. I remember at one institution a student complained that they did not know how to add accents and macrons to their typed script. They were resorting to printing out a text and then providing the finishing touches with a pen! Surely we should support students to develop skills in something as superficially basic as word-processing too.

Discipline: French On successful completion of this module you will be able to:
Level 4: First Year UG replicate simple tasks to make use of an AZERTY keyboard to produce French language texts
Level 5: Second Year UG employ the customisation features within your word processing software to facilitate authoring in French
Level 6: Third Year UG organise your information technology environment to optimise the production of edited texts in French
Level 7: Masters integrate multilingual referenced sources in your bibliographic software and cite them appropriately through a variety of publishing platforms

Hopefully, these illustrations will provide you with some insights into how you might progressively support students in their 'tool' use.
For most university programmes, with the exception of arts and performance related subjects, psychomotor domain skills are likely to be seen as less significant than the cognitive (intellectual skills), affective (values), metacognitive (epistemological development) and interpersonal (communication) domain skills. But I would argue there is not a single programme, if not every single module, warrants the inclusion of a psychomotor outcomes students needs to have assessed to invest value in its acquisition.


Dave, R. H. (1967). Psychomotor domain. Presented at the International Conference of Educational Testing, Berlin.
Gardner, H. (2011). Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. New York: Basic Books.
Perrin, D. C. (2017, January 13). The Apprenticeship Model: A Journey toward Mastery. Retrieved September 1, 2018, from
Richardson, G. (2005). Craft Guilds and Christianity in Late-Medieval England: A Rational-Choice Analysis. Rationality and Society, 17(2), 139–189.

Designing Engaging Learning Opportunities

Workshop aligned to UKPSF A1-A2,  K1-K4, V1 

The third element in a constructively aligned course design and stage six of the 8-SLDF is the learning activities that allow students to prepare for the assessment of their learning outcomes. This is not about the content that we share with our students; it is about how we develop an appropriate strategy to do that. Some modules will require a good deal of knowledge to be acquired by novice learners and a set-text and discursive seminars may be the appropriate strategy. Could we use one-minute papers, 'Pecha Kucha', lightning talks, and other techniques to secure student engagement? Alternatively, we might be designing a more advanced module in which a discovery learning approach is more appropriate. Could we use enquiry based learning models here instead, asking our students to prepare to take a debate position, run a Moot or team-based discussion? The important thing is that we are developing a strategy and practical approaches that build on our design, not seeking innovation for innovation's sake. The pages for this stage of the 8 Stage Learning Design Framework are summarised as:

      1. The content to be taught should serve the students ability to evidence the ILO
      2. The skills and attributes that are taught at a topic, week or session level should be designed to rehearse elements of the assessment
      3. Not everything that engages students is directly assessed but everything they are asked to do should be justifiable as informing the assessment and ILOs.

You might want to ask yourself as a course design team

        • How closely mapped are the  ILOs to each topic, week or session outline?
        • How confident are you that you cover the ILOs appropriately in terms of weighting and importance?
        • How much variation is there in the learning approaches taken throughout your module?
        • How are you enabling students to develop skills beyond knowledge acquisition?

    See 8-SLDF pages for a fuller explanation.

Student expectations are serious constraints on imaginative assessment processes. Students are taught through their educational experience that ‘final grades matter’ so it is natural that they become fixated on the final assessment. A transparent design that closely reflects the ILOs within the teaching activity and assessment will necessarily engage students in a broader and deeper understanding of their learning journey.

See Workshops  or the page associated with this stage of the 8-SLDF

Following the 8-Stage Learning Design Framework, we know at this stage what our intended learning outcomes (ILO) are. This enables us to design meaningful assessment that provides opportunities to students to evidence their learning against those ILOs. It is important to initially identify which outcomes across different domains of learning can be combined through assessment. This allows us to manage the assessment load, for both faculty and student, while ensuring all ILOs are assessed. Using taxonomy circles, we can then draft marking rubrics for the appropriate level that represent all the guidance that individual assessors and students need to guide their practice.

There is also a challenge to meet the needs for assessment, or the outcomes, sometimes even the content, dictated by external bodies.  In many programmes, there is pressure to assess a range of skills and behaviours beyond subject knowledge. The challenge is to design assessments that allow students to demonstrate a range of skills (across various domains) through a single assessment. Rather than abdicate our responsibility as learning designers, this is a call to understand how better to articulate the relationship between what the intended learning outcomes of a course are, how it is being assessed and what is being experienced as learning by the students.


Drafting an assessment framework is an iterative process. Ideally one designs the assessment at the same time as one writes module ILOs, ‘tweaking’ them to give them depth and flexibility at the same time. If students are properly guided to generate well-structured evidence, it can be a fascinating and engaging process to assess them.

Explore the 8-SLDF here for the fuller details of assessment and all other stages.



Workshop available aligned to UKPSF A1, A4, A5, K2, K3, K6, V1-V4

This post is a shortened version of a new resource posted about designing effective ILOs available here.

ILOs are the detailed explanations, written in language the students will understand before beginning the module or programme, as to what they will be able to DO when they have successfully completed the learning.

Many quality assurance structures, institutional or external, require Programme and Module Specifications contain details of the 'intended learning outcomes' (ILOs) of the programme of study. ILOs serve to provide students with a ‘checklist’ of the types of skills, attributes, abilities or competencies they should be able to evidence through successfully completing the module or programme.

Intended Learning Outcomes should not be seen as a straight-jacket for faculty. Rather, if they are well written, they should provide scaffolding for creativity in teaching and assessment.

Most teachers can identify any number of unintended learning outcomes, depending on the character of the cohort, the changing context in which learning takes place or the emergent nature of the discipline. However, the ILOs are the facets of learning that will be assessed. They should be written knowing that these are the capabilities that will be assessed, not the content knowledge.

Read more for guidance on how to structure effective ILOs that cover all dimensions of learning.


Visualisation of factors impacting on media choicesThere are five key considerations we should take into account as we either work with media in our learning and teaching process or design learning using media.  The relative importance of each of these depends on the level, context and nature of the module or programme but all should need to be reflected in any learning design. These five are:

  • Students: orientation and disposition to learning with and through media.
  • Staff: abilities to work with media. Their abilities to identify appropriate media and manipulate it as appropriate.
  • Professional needs: present and future demands of the professional context in using media appropriately.
  • Content & Resources: Identifying existing, or creating, effective media resources for learning.
  • Institutional Choices: The constraints and opportunities for learning designers to develop media.


This is stage 3 of the 8-Stage Learning Design Framework. Read the associated pages for this stage for more detail.

Workshop Schedule - Details see here

This 33-minute presentation is from a session delivered to an internal audience of colleagues on my final day at BPP University as part of Digital Literacy Day (16 Feb 2018). Set-up as a demonstration, sharing QRs, Padlet, Twitter. After six years leading a portfolio focussed around teaching enhancement, scholarship and research and educational technology adoption, I outlined the pervasive nature of resistance to change and issued a call for recognising the urgent need to embrace sound educational technology practices. The presentation sets up the premise that our educational history has created a walled garden within which the majority of our academic practice exists. I suggested a few alternatives to existing practice, encouraging colleagues to take some small steps. These included Voicethread as a an interactive discussion platform and H5P (I misspoke in the video and said HfP!). H5P provides a degree of interactive possibilities.

My challenge to my colleagues was about who was going to design the learning experiences through educational technology. What is the relationship between instructional designers and content specialists? What about their relationships with 'classroom' practitioners?


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