First Assessments
Data Analysis
Second Assessments
Data Analysis
Third Assessments
Data Analysis
Evaluation & Reporting

Project team

Stephen Haddelsey Project Lead

Ali Brumhead Project Administrator

Project Information


Now, more than ever, it is important that we understand the value that students obtain from their time studying at Higher Education Institutions. The purpose of the Learning Gain Project is to pilot measures for evaluating the extent to which students’ employability increases during their three years of undergraduate study.

Project Information

In May 2015 the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) invited UK Higher Education Institutions to submit expressions of interest to participate in a range of pilot projects designed to evaluate methods of measuring ‘learning gain’. Learning gain is defined as the overall distance travelled by students during their time in higher education.

The University of Lincoln, in collaboration with the University of Huddersfield, was awarded funding for the completion of a three-year longitudinal pilot study. It was one of 12 pilot projects to be funded nationally out of 49 bids. At Lincoln, the research will focus on a cohort of students selected from the following academic schools:

College of Arts School of History & Heritage
School of Fine & Performing Arts
College of Science School of Engineering
School of Computer Science
School of Pharmacy
College of Social Science School of Psychology
Lincoln Business School

Dr Stephen Haddelsey is the Project Manager and Ali Brumhead is Project Administrator, within the University’s Educational Development and Enhancement Unit (EDEU). A cohort of level-one students has been selected to participate in the study.

The project will focus on measuring learning gain using two methods:

  • Student Self-Assessment
  • A Situational Judgement Test

These will be administered up to three times during the student cohort’s three years of study. The first assessments will take place in February 2016 and will form the baseline for the ongoing analysis.

Project Aim

The key aim of the project is to identify a successful method of evaluating learning gain that can be adopted nationwide.

In participating with the project students will gain the opportunity to reflect upon the employability skills that they are developing and to identify both their strengths and areas for improvement. Students will also be able to discuss the results of their self-assessments and situational judgement tests with their Personal Tutors. Students are encouraged to participate as situational judgement tests are commonly used in industry recruitment processes and early familiarity with the format is likely to be beneficial.

In addition, participation will allow students to influence the way in which learning gain is measured on a national scale in the future and to ensure that methods used are fit-for-purpose.

All data will be anonymised and test results will have no effect on student grades.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The purpose of the Learning Gain Project is to pilot measures for evaluating the extent to which undergraduate students have gained a key set of transferable skills and competencies that prepare them for the next stages of their career upon graduation, be it employment or further study.
The project will run throughout the academic years 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18, with a report being submitted to HEFCE at the end of that period.
Heads of School were asked to identify the programmes or groups that they thought might be appropriate. As this is a 3-year longitudinal project it was essential that the participating students all entered the university as first year undergraduates at the beginning of academic year 2015-16. No students were selected individually.
No: students are at liberty to refuse participation or to withdraw at any time. There will be no negative consequences for students who decide not to participate or to withdraw from the study. Students who decide to discontinue participation at any time, may do so without providing an explanation. In the event of a student withdrawing, all information they have provided will be destroyed.
The Learning Gain Project is being funded in full by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).
Participating students will be asked to complete a Student Self-Assessment (SSA), which they will complete with the guidance and support of their personal tutors, and a Situational Judgement Test (SJT), to be completed online via an emailed link. The SSA has been developed by the University of Lincoln using Blackboard. The SJT has been developed by a leading UK provider of psychometric tests, A&DC, and is in common use by a range of employers.These measures will be administered up to three times during the three years of undergraduate study. The first assessments will take place in February / March 2016 and will form the baseline for the ongoing analysis. The second and third administrations will take place during the second and third years of undergraduate study.

Yes. To ensure that the project takes advantage of all available means by which to assess a student’s development, other existing data recorded by the university may also be taken into consideration. This may include data relating to engagement, progression, retention and academic achievement. As this data is already routinely gathered by the university, its use will not require any time commitment from participating students.
The Student Self-Assessment is not time-limited, but should take no more than 15 minutes to complete; we anticipate that the Situational Judgement Test will take no more than 40 minutes.
Personal Privacy is very important to us and any personal information gathered during the project will be treated in a confidential manner. Student names and identifying details will not be used in any publication arising out of the research. Following the study, any hard copy of data will be kept in an anonymous format, in a locked cabinet in EDEU at the University of Lincoln. All information that is kept electronically will be secured in accordance with the university’s Data Protection and ICT protocols.Data collected will be passed to HEFCE to allow them to conduct further research into learning gain, including combining with data from similar work at other universities and colleges. These data may be linked to other data that they hold about students including prior, current or future educational records and records on earnings and employment.

These data will not be used in any way that will affect students personally and any analysis published will take steps to ensure that students cannot be identified from it. HEFCE will process personal data in accordance with the Data Protection Act (DPA) 1998 and is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO); their registration number is Z6366704.

Any questions relating to the use of data should be emailed to or Further information about the DPA can be found on the ICO’s website:

Given that Situational Judgement and other psychometric tests are in common use among major employers, we believe that early familiarisation with these tests could be beneficial to participating students. More broadly, participating students will be contributing to an ongoing process to ensure that future students will obtain maximum benefit from their years in Higher Education.
First year students (academic year 2015-16) from the schools of History & Heritage, Fine & Performing Arts, Pharmacy, Computer Science, Engineering, Business and Psychology are being asked to participate.
Only students in the selected programmes will be able to participate in the project as numbers must be strictly controlled.
If you are a participating student, in the first instance you should approach your personal tutor. Other queries should be addressed to the project team: Dr Stephen Haddelsey, Project Manager (email:, or Ali Brumhead, Project Administrator (

Updates and Announcements

January 2017

Our September 2016 administration was successful and initial data analysis has begun.

Workshops have been scheduled for the second administration for level 2 students; for Business on Monday 16th January at 12 noon and Pharmacy at 3.30pm. Students can find further details in their timetable. More workshops will be scheduled for other participating schools later this term.

We are also recruiting 5 Learning Gain Student Ambassadors. Please see our job advert for more details here:

We are offering every student who completes both assessments for a second time £15 of amazon vouchers. In addition to this, eligible students will be entered into a prize draw for £100 of amazon vouchers if their college achieves a 70% completion rate.


September 2016

Preparations are being made for approximately 600 level 1 students from Architecture and Design, Pharmacy and Psychology to be invited to participate in a new administration of assessments taking place during Welcome Week 2016.

Dr Linda Speight has been appointed as Data Analyst and will be in post from 6th September.

Discussions are underway regarding strategies for administering the assessments to level 2 students for a second time.


May 2016

Our first administration has closed and 220 students who completed all elements of the project will receive £10 printer credits each.

In addition, students were entered into a second prize draw. The winner was Nicole Wright, congratulations!

We are now making arrangements for these students to take the assessments again in their second year of study and for a new, smaller cohort of students from September 2016’s intake to be invited to participate during Welcome Week.


April 2016

97 Students completed all 3 elements of The Learning Gain Project by 11th April and were entered into a prize draw.

The winner of the £100 Love2Shop voucher was Tatenda Chirikure. Congratulations!

To increase student numbers we have extended the deadline. Anyone who completes all 3 elements by 9am Tuesday 3rd May will be entered into a new prize draw for another £100 Love2Shop voucher which can be redeemed in a number of high street stores.

In addition: all students who have completed all 3 elements of the project (consent, self-assessment and situational judgement test) will receive £10 of printer credits by way of thanks.


March 2016

The first administration of the Student Self-Assessment (SSA) and Situational Judgement Test (SJT) is now underway, with participating students from the six selected schools now in receipt of the web links.

In order to encourage participation, all students who complete the online consent and the two tests by 11 April 2016 will have their names entered into a prize draw to win £100 of ‘Love to Shop’ vouchers, which can be redeemed at a wide variety of high street shops.


February 2016

The project has now received Ethics Committee and Project Board approval for the first administration of the Situational Judgement Test (SJT) and the Student Self-Assessment (SSA). These will be administered during March and selected students will be contacted shortly by their schools. In addition, HEFCE has reviewed the project’s status and has confirmed entire satisfaction with the adopted methodology and progress to date.

HEFCE has published an new overview of the learning gain programme which includes details of the pilot projects involved. See more at:


January 2016

Considerable progress has been made; student cohorts have been selected, a self-assessment test has been drafted and a platform for this identified. A number of providers of a situational judgment test have been assessed and the first project board meeting will be held on 26 January. First test administration is planned for February 2016.