Inception of an online skills resource for medical science undergraduates: The School of Medical Science Skills Support Centre

Mihai Rizea, Gordon Thomas Alexander McEwan, Steven John Tucker, Alison McEwan Jenkinson, Derryck Shewan, John Barrow

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


The aim of this project was to develop a “one stop shop” for undergraduate students across all levels of study within the School of Medical Sciences at the University of Aberdeen. The key features desired from the resource were ease of use and accessibility, with students being able to develop multiple skills freely and to an advanced competence regardless of their initial level.
The first phase was to survey teaching staff within the School regarding the problems students encounter as they progress through their degree and what their ideal performance should look like. Afterwards, all final year Honours students were sampled and the process was repeated. The data collected was then analysed alongside researching current trends and techniques deployed in online education at other higher education institutions throughout the world.
The second phase was to adapt a design sprint methodology used by technology start-ups in order to outline the structure and user experience. This allowed for quick prototyping and development to a final product framework within 4 weeks.
Blackboard education software was used to build the resource as this is the central online platform within the University of Aberdeen, and as such is familiar platform used by all students. Current skill sets are distributed into four categories (Organisational Skills, Practical-related Skills, Writing Skills, and Scientific Reading Skills) with each containing several subdivisions.
Educational content comes in both text and multimedia formats and was collected from several Aberdeen University resources as well as public resources alongside original content developed specifically for this resource. To enhance knowledge retention, retrieval practice is used, whereby educational content is followed by a short assessment.
The resource was launched to students from the start of academic year 2014-15, with usage being monitored to better understand user needs and observe adoption rates. To encourage collaboration and active learning further developments will include live chats, collaborative assessments and student made content areas (diagrams, notes, etc.).
Future objectives include surveying users to quantify the benefits of using this resource; implementing randomised diagnostic tests so that users can objectively track improvements in particular areas; and also expanding the skills sets to include other relevant skills known to be of high importance from our original surveys and through collaborations with external employers.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun 2015


  • Undergraduate skills
  • supporting students
  • developing professional practice


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