SOLE Elements

The nine elements of the SOLE Model

SOLE model visualisation
SOLE Model 2018-2022

The nine elements of the SOLE model are designed to present a comprehensive picture of the student’s learning experience. In course design, if these elements are properly ‘populated’, they would afford an effective balance of activity, learning ownership, and opportunities, for higher-order thinking and deep learning. IN learning support and academic development usage, they represent a complete range of contexts in which learning occurs.

The SOLE model describes the nine elements of the model (1/a) and, in the associated design toolkit, provides pedagogic guidance (2/b), supported with references to resources and literature for design purposes.


  1. Supportive guidance on quality and level of evidence being demonstrated in the achievement of the predetermined learning outcomes.
  2. Feedback could be self-generated, peer-generated, or teacher-focused. What opportunities exist for feedback within your given teaching context? Will students see you each week, for how long, and are class sizes such that feedback will necessarily be done by peers? Would learning sets or group strategies support more effective feedback? If I am teaching online, or supporting the learning online, what opportunities exist for personalised feedback?


  1. All forms of formative, summative, ipsative, and synoptic assessment.
  2. Assessment could be for the purposes of evaluating progress against the achievement of the learning outcomes (formative) or be for demonstration of that progress for evaluative and credit purposes (summative); self-referenced assessment also has value (ipsative) as does capstone assessment (synoptic). What is the balance within your course? Have you provided opportunities for engagement with the marking rubrics? Have you optionality or negotiated assessment possibilities in your course? Are there opportunities for students to relate assessment tasks to prior learning, to other pre-requisite courses? Does assessment design give the students anything to ‘take away’ of practical benefit to their future learning career or life-work?


  1. Identified as a reflection-on-action to reflection-in action process through the course life-cycle. Progressively encouraging metacognition.
  2. What opportunities exist to capture the reflection on feedback and assessment? What artefacts might be stored for later consideration? What occasions exist to engage in the individual’s social context and with peers to evaluate the learning in progress?


  1. The individual’s educational context is a source of real-world activity we can build on in our learning design. We also need to be aware of the individual circumstances each student learning experiences.
  2. Is the learner face-to-face or online? Are they working part-time or full-time, studying for a professional degree, trade or craft, or some life-work as yet ill-defined? Is this something that can be developed as a theme for personal reflection? What prior learning, pre-requisites, or co-requisites might be drawn on in the learning design?


  1. The non-course context in which the learner lives is a source of real-world activity we can build on in our course design. This requires acknowledgment of individual epistemological perspectives.
  2. Is the cohort a homogenous or heterogeneous group? What ‘external’ social contexts can we reference in our learning design, are students working, and could context be cited? Are there diversities in life contexts that afford opportunities to encourage contextual learning, can learners be asked to share social differences? What learning might occur with other non-peers, elders, siblings, or social or leisure contexts?


  1. The direct engagement with fellow students in the same learning cycle could be reasonably directed.
  2. What opportunities exist for in-class, or online, exchange of views, co-construction, and co-resolution? What opportunities for negotiation, sharing, joint inquiry, or critical friends exist within the course? Is collaboration, critique, or inquiry an identified learning outcome? Are there reasons why group work would contribute to the ILO; are there skills to be learned through particular forms of collaboration?


  1. Time and activity are allocated to asynchronous engagement involving the teacher.
  2. What level of engagement with learner activity is required of you to support and progress student learning? What degree of online intervention is commensurate with your learning design; are students online and require your guidance? To what extent is your presence required and motivational? What periodic interventions might you make to contemporise the learning context, drawing on current literature or social contexts to make the learning real-world relevant?


  1. Time and activity allocated for real-time synchronous engagement.
  2. What balance of face-to-face, or virtual contact time, is appropriate throughout the course? Does institutional timetabling allow variance throughout the course; might you choose to engage to a greater extent at the outset of the learning process and again for summative purposes? If learning materials are supporting domain knowledge acquisition, what is the most effective use of your time?


  1. The learning materials that are provided, usually in advance, to support domain knowledge acquisition.
  2. What pre-existing material exists? Have you explored existing Open Educational Resources (OER) that could be adapted to suit your learners’ needs? Would a single set-reading be a helpful reference point? What capacity for deep engagement with resources exists? Are seminal texts identified to students as such, if not, are they truly necessary? What opportunities exist for learners to assist in developing and refining the creation of learning materials, for example in the joint creation of an online glossary or a shared annotated bibliography?

These nine elements are believed to be all-inclusive. If you believe there is some other facet of the learning experience that is missing, try and think about whether it is, in reality, a subset of one of these nine elements.

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