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Disciplines & Themes

  • Social Work
  • Assessment Strategies

Learning focus:  

  • Reflection
  • Professional Competencies
  • Self-assessment and Peer Feedback

Design focus:

  • PebblePad Workbooks & Capstone Portfolios
  • Programmatic Assessment
  • External Assessors

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Making explicit connections to professional practice

The University of Waterloo is located in the heart of Canada's technology hub, and is growing its network of global partnerships and building bridges with industry, institutions and communities. A leader in experiential learning, Waterloo strives to make the world the classroom for their students and PebblePad is delighted to support student learning both within and beyond the boundaries of their classrooms. Ranked number 1 for Experiential learning and STEM, and third overall in the best Canadian university rankings, the University of Waterloo strives to go beyond expectations. In this project, PebblePad is used to power a variety of assessment strategies for Master of Social Work students. These activities scaffold the process of integrating the students’ learning experiences from start to finish.

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University of Waterloo - PebblePad Partnership

We needed a system to support formative and summative assessment, with the goals of cultivating habits of lifelong learning by enhancing students’ communication skills, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities and preparing them for post-graduation employment.


The Ambition 

The University of Waterloo Master of Social Work is delivered primarily online but includes a practicum during which students must demonstrate particular competencies. Instructors wanted to streamline the assessment process to:

  • allow students to easily document with evidence their development of each of the nine required social work competencies as they were being attained

  • easily track each student’s progress so that those who were having difficulty developing the competencies in a timely manner were identified quickly and were provided the proper support

  • incorporate a peer feedback process enabling students to learn from, and provide constructive feedback to, each other

  • ease the administration of managing external assessors.


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PebblePad’s flexibility and customisation tools enable us to ensure that the PebblePad workbook activities and assessment processes align with program goals and any professionally mandated competencies. 

The Successful Workflow

A PebblePad workbook was designed with specific sections to help students identify and articulate the required professional competencies they are developing as they progress through the program. Assessment of student learning occurs via a rubric, where evaluators review students’ depth of reflection on professional growth in the program, comprehensiveness of evidence of the competencies, and ability to connect theory to practice. Using PebblePad’s student-selected external assessor option allows students to easily provide their respective external assessor with access to the work to be assesses.

Using the workbook to guide and assess learning throughout the program has helped students integrate their learning experiences and track their growth and development, shifting the program from a didactic model toward a more student-centred model. The incorporation of feedback from instructors, external assessors and peers culminates in a student-created portfolio showcasing their final capstone project.

             Our PebbleVision video, while not specifically about this case study, provides a brief overview of how PebblePad can support              some of the pedagogical and pebblegogical practices discussed here in this case study.


The PebblePad Difference

The ease of use of PebblePad gave students more time to focus on the pedagogical and learning processes while creating their eportfolio rather than spending time addressing technical challenges. The workbook and portfolio allowed students to see their growth and development on an ongoing basis and allowed them to showcase their entire learning journey with evidence and associated assessments in an accessible format. 

PebblePad has helped the University of Waterloo achieve these benefits ...

  • Effectively capture evidence of student learning for credit, auditing and accreditation requirements.

  • Easily facilitate online review and streamline the feedback process, which is now more sustainable.

  • The use of the rubrics helps the external assessor provide students with constructive feedback

  • Making explicit connections to professional practice helps students recognize how these activities will prepare them for their future.

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