Embedding Academic Skills

Three people sat around a table in a discussionIntegrating academic skills teaching with curriculum content can help to ensure that all students have the opportunity to get the most out of themselves when it counts. This page provides guidance on where to start.

Page break

Where to start

As a starting point, it can be helpful for students to understand how and why they are being assessed. Making sure that students are aware of the models and frameworks behind assessment design can be a good way to introduce the rationale behind how they are assessed at university.

At a programme level, the Sheffield Graduate Attributes provide a framework for student skills development. Students can track and record their progress on these attributes through the MySkills Portfolio, which includes a pathway focusing on Academic Skills.

Suggested Learning Activity: Level Up Your Skills

A skills audit is a widely-used tool in education and employment for assessing learning needs in order to plan, develop and improve the skills you will need in your degree and beyond. The 301 Skills Audit will help students to identify strengths and priorities for further development by responding to a series of short statements drawn from the Sheffield Graduate Attributes.

The Skills Audit should take no more than five minutes to complete (using a smartphone or similar) and it will generate a personalised action plan including recommendations of resources and opportunities that are available around the university to help students to narrow their skills gaps.

A student can take a Skills Audit as many times as they like and it will be saved in their personal skills record. A student’s priorities might change over the course of their degree so they can use it as part of an ongoing process of skills reflection to keep track of progress against goals.

Suggested Learning Activity: Bloom’s Taxonomy

Presenting Bloom’s Taxonomy to students and explaining how it is used to structure learning activities and develop marking criteria for assessments can help to demystify what tutors are looking for in students’ work. It might be helpful to look at Bloom’s Taxonomy as a kind of ladder, with each rung representing an aspect of what students need to be able to demonstrate in their work. In order to achieve the highest grades, students will need to show that they have progressed systematically up each rung of the ladder and engaged with each of the cognitive skills. 

To explore this further:

  • Ask students to look at the marking criteria for an upcoming assignment.
  • Using the Bloom’s Taxonomy template, ask students to map the marking criteria for a first class grade onto the template. Can they find words and phrases in the marking criteria that cover each level of Bloom’s Taxonomy?

Page break

Further information

Links and downloads

Skills Audit and reflection:

Blooms' Taxonomy and marking criteria:

Embedding Academic Writing

Embedding Critical Thinking and Writing

Developing your students’ research skills