The LEAP (Learning Excellence Achievement Pathway) framework: A model for student learning development in higher education




learning development framework, digital literacy, academic development, learning development culture, digital badging, student engagement


This article explores the development of the LEAP (Learning Excellence Achievement Pathway) framework at the University of Bolton, UK. It describes the nature of the project and focuses on the methodology involved in conducting an institution-wide audit of student learning development (LD) provision and producing a visual framework to stimulate a culture of LD within the organisation. Whilst most UK universities offer a student LD programme at undergraduate level, little work has been undertaken to develop and define a visual framework which underpins these programmes and assists students to conceptualise their progress. This paper explores the context for creating an LD framework and outlines how LD provision is mapped to align curricular LD opportunities with co-curricular student engagement initiatives. The article then considers the implementation of the LEAP framework. A mixed-methods evaluation activity was conducted, involving both staff and students, using a variety of data. Evaluation methods were used to assess the impact of the framework on student LD, revealing a number of positive changes to their LD behaviour and habits, their assessment of LD, the accessibility of help and support and their awareness of the context in which LD takes place. Finally, we identify future developments to the framework to embed it further within the institution.

Author Biographies

Emily McIntosh, University of Bolton

Dr. Emily McIntosh is Director of Student Life at the University of Bolton and Principal Fellow of the Higher
Education Academy (PFHEA). Emily’s role carries
responsibility for a number of cross-institutional
streams of work underpinned by the Student
Experience and Teaching, Learning & Assessment
Strategies. Emily’s remit includes the student
experience, student support, the student voice,
peer learning, student communications, student
learning development, welcome & induction
and early intervention systems as well as various
aspects of teaching and learning activity.
Emily’s research interests include student
transition, personal tutoring, student learning development, student resilience and peer learning initiatives. She is a member of the Executive Committee of UK Advising
& Tutoring (UKAT) and is Chair of the UKAT
Research Committee.

Mary Barden, University of Bolton

Mary Barden is the University of Bolton’s Electronic Resources Librarian (formerly Academic librarian). She has a strong interest in eLearning, information literacy and supporting the student experience. Mary is one of the project team responsible for the inception and development of LEAP Online, the University’s award winning online skills portal.




How to Cite

McIntosh, E. and Barden, M. (2019) “The LEAP (Learning Excellence Achievement Pathway) framework: A model for student learning development in higher education”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (14). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.v0i14.466.




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