Personalising skills learning: using a skills journal to enhance student self-directed learning and deliberate practice


Transferable skills are increasingly recognized as cornerstones for personal development and integral to many higher education courses. This project implements, evaluates, and disseminates a method of skills teaching using ‘skills journals’ at Leiden University College with the goal of helping students develop a habit of self-directed, deliberate skills practice to improve their skills acquisition.
Why is this necessary? Learning transferable skills is most effective when it works through deliberate practice, makes good use of feedback, and when it is self-directed and cumulative across courses. Yet in practice, students often complete assignments where they use transferable skills, but they approach them as moments to perform rather than to learn. As a result, feedback is often forgotten, and far too rarely used to improve future performance; and the level of skills acquisition is highly variable between students and, on average, suboptimal.
What will the skills journal project do? Students will use the journal in all their courses to keep track of their personal skills-oriented learning goals and the feedback they receive. This not only helps them to use feedback more effectively across their different courses, but also motivates them by making their skills-learning process more explicitly personal. Co-creating the learning goals, teaching techniques, and instructional materials with teachers and students incentivizes both groups to use the journal regularly in and outside the classroom. This will help students develop a habit of approaching their classes with their learning goals and past feedback in mind, practice their skills more deliberately, and learn more effectively.


Project number


Main applicant

Dr. D.W.L. Ehrhardt

Affiliated with

Universiteit Leiden, Faculteit Campus Den Haag


04/05/2020 to 29/10/2021