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Disciplines & Themes

  • Optometry
  • Competency & Professional Standards 

Learning focus:  

  • Clinical skills
  • Evidencing standards 

Design focus:

  • PebblePad Workbooks
  • Mobile devices 
  • Assessment rubrics

A clearer way to look at evidence of clinical practice

The University of Plymouth was ranked in the Top 25 for teaching quality in the 2020 National Student Survey, and over 4,500 University of Plymouth students per year benefit from placements and work-based learning. PebblePad is used across the university as part of their digital ecosystem to support a wide range of teaching, learning and assessment ambitions for over 18,000 students. For this project, PebblePad was used to replace a paper-based clinical logbook that was causing challenges regarding accessibility for staff and students in an Optometry programme.

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Image show girl with glasses smiling and sitting on a step in a contemporary setting using her tablet device.

We needed a system that provided greater access for academic staff to track progress and identify students who may require extra support, as well as improving student access to feedback. Our paper system couldn't support these needs. 



The ‘Goodbye To Paper Clinical Logbook Problems’ Ambition 

At the Centre for Eyecare Excellence (CEE), situated on the University of Plymouth campus, students are observed by their tutors attempting clinical competencies and patient episodes throughout the academic year. Progress, along with tutor feedback and student reflection, is recorded in standardised logbooks. Previously, all recording and evidencing of clinical competencies and patient episodes was carried out using three paper logbooks that had to remain in the clinic. This provided challenges for student access to feedback and for academic staff to track progress and identify students who may require extra support.


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The biggest lesson learnt is that simple is best. The team managed to evaluate and simplify processes with the move from a paper-based system to the digital platform and this helped to make the platform as user friendly as possible. PebblePad has been a brilliant tool for this project. 

The Successful Workflow 

The Digital Education team and the Optometry Programme team designed and created a new eportfolio approach to assessing clinical core competencies and patient episodes in a clinical setting using PebblePad workbooks via iPads. Separate workbooks were set up for tracking and recording student performance against core competency criteria and patient episode numbers. Performance against set competency and episode criteria was easy to record in a live setting on an iPad through making use of the table and rubric features of PebblePad.

In future iterations of the workbooks the clinic team are looking to make use of additional PebblePad features to record audio feedback and add photographic evidence to enhance both student and tutor experience further.

Our PebbleVision video, while not specifically about this case study, provides other examples of simulating real-world scenarios and clinical encounters using PebblePad digital workbooks and templates.

The PebblePad Difference

The Programme Leader feels that the enhanced student experience using PebblePad contributed significantly to the increased ‘National Student Survey’ (NSS) scores which saw the ‘assessment and feedback’ satisfaction score in 2018/2019 rise by 22% to 82% and the ‘overall satisfaction’ score rise by 23% to 98%, ranking the programme in the top two in the UK for Optometry.

The success of this third year experience has meant this approach has now been scaled across the whole Optometry programme, including year one and year two clinical assessment and practice placements.

PebblePad has helped University of Plymouth achieve these benefits ...

  • Tutors are able to assess clinical performance on the spot and record feedback that is instantly accessible to the student.

  • Students use the built-in progress tracker to gain real time evidence of their achievements.

  • For the clinical management team, the reporting features in ATLAS have revolutionised the tracking of student progress and simplified the auditing process.

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