Student Development and Support Office
SSA HANDBOOK FOR PERSONAL MENTORS
2010 - 2011
SSC Summary Information, years 1 and 2 ………………………………………………. 3
SSC Summary Information, years 3 and 4 ………………………………………………..4
SSC Summary Information year 5 ………………………………………………………..5
Questions to help with SSA Reflection …………………………………………………..6
Independent SSAs, What happens if a student does not complete an SSA
and notes on Plagiarism ……………………………………….…………………………7
Notes on Pebble Pad ………………………………………………………………………8
Further information is available on the Personal Mentor Website:
please log on, then click ‘student grades’ and on that next page click ‘Personal
Mentor Information’. This brings you to an A-Z list of useful information.
The GMC requires that a substantial portion of the medical degree is undertaken through
self-directed learning. At Birmingham the self-directed learning, known as the Student
Selected Component, is divided into taught Student Selected Module (SSM) components for
which they receive a mark and have to pass, and Student Selected Activities (SSA) which are
not marked, but which are monitored and successful completion of them is a progress
requirement. Personal Mentors engage with the SSA aspect of the course.
Please note that the Student Selected Component provision is under review and
development, some elements are in the process of change. You will be notified of relevant
material in monthly email briefings, and this document will be kept up to date on the
Personal Mentors Website.
The PM Website is found by going to http://intramed.bham.ac.uk and selecting ‘student
grades’. This brings you to a (blue) page which contains your PM group information,
photos, exam results. It also has a link (top right) called ‘Personal Mentor Information’
which leads you to an A-Z list of forms, links, advice, policies etc.
General Medical Council goals for SSC
o Research skills
o Self-directed learning skills
o In-depth study outside the core curriculum
o Developing confidence
o Presenting work verbally, visually and in writing
The full wording is at:
Please note that for all information given in the summaries below, elements
that involve Personal Mentors are in bold type. The other information is
there to provide an overall picture.
SSA/SSC Summary Information
Year 1 SSAs in year 1 start to develop Learning Skills that will be applied throughout the
course, and are particularly examined in the Learning Medicine module.
SSA in November, linked to Integrated Problems. Each Personal Mentor
who oversees year 1 and 2 students should receive a reflective report via
Pebblepad and provide written feedback. An individual meeting with the
student should be arranged: the timeframe is given in the Mentor
Calendar. It is very important that Personal Mentors notify Penny Hewlett
if a student does not submit the report, as although this SSA is not marked,
its completion is a progress requirement and a matter of due diligence.
In Semester 2 the students write an assessed essay for Learning Medicine.
This is a stand-alone element of SSA, and concerns their learning styles and
outcomes overall. Part 1 covers description of student’s learning style and
how this affected their studies, Part 2 is analysis of learning style, and
reflection of how to improve learning potential. Personal Mentors do not
receive or mark this work. However, the skills and insights into learning that
form the backbone of this essay should be applied to all SSAs.
Taught SSA in Semester 2. Students will send a reflective report on the
process of their SSA to their PM, who should provide feedback. The content
of the SSA itself will be reviewed by the academic supervisor.
During the post-exam fortnight in June students will work in groups on a
selected topic, and present a poster on the penultimate day of term. There will
be no reflective report sent to PMs.
Year 2 SSA in semester 1. Reflective report to be sent to PM, and written feedback
provided. Students should meet with their PM, timeframe given in Mentor
Calendar. This is the only year 2 Reflective Report you will receive and it is
very important that Personal Mentors notify Penny Hewlett if a student
does not submit the report.
Student Project 1 (SP1, 10 credits, a dissertation). Students select from a menu
of subject options by the end of October. Topics have academic supervisors,
and SP1 has a dedicated week in February. Write-up should be completed by
the start of the summer term. Presentations are held in the first week after the
Easter Vacation. Students must submit both hardcopy and electronic copy by
midday of the deadline. There is a student handbook for SP1.
The post-exam period is used for a Hospital Preparation course.
Year 3 A hospital based SSA which culminates in a presentation given at the
(GEC2) hospital, where feedback is also given.
Student Project 2 (20 credits and not applicable to GEC students, but does
apply to direct entry dentists). 3 weeks of post-exam work in April/May,
with essays to be submitted on day 1 of 4th year and presentations
scheduled by SSC Team. Students who fail SP2 either resubmit or after
discussion select a new topic. The SP2 results are ratified by the Year 4
Exam Board at the end of the year, in April.
NB students might also mention to you the Public Health Project which
takes place after the exams, but this is not part of the Student Selected
Year 4 Special Study Module Conference Poster. Students can take 5 days through
(GEC3) the course and the poster is assessed by presentation in April.
Career Bite. This is done over 4 weeks in year 4. A reflective report
summarizing the day to day progress should be written (circa 1000 words)
for their portfolio. Students are expected to keep a daily log of their SSA,
and use this as a basis for writing their report. Reflective report to be
discussed with PM. The reflective report is submitted via student
Intramed, so that the SSC Team can confirm the work has been done
by the deadlines. Personal Mentors cannot access the student portal, so
students are advised that they need to send the report to you by email.
Teaching Project (10 credits, a written reflection). This takes place in CBM
and is assessed by the CBM tutor.
Elective Project. This is an SSA with various deadlines for protocol,
feasibility form, health & safty, ethics approval, local supervisor form, and
in year 5 write-up of the elective report (5-6,000 words for one individual,
7-8,000 for a joint project. Please note that students may ask you to
supervise their Elective Project. This is NOT part of your PM role and
you must feel free to refuse. You may enjoy supervising one student or
one subject that is in your field, but please do not take on this extra
work unless you specifically wish to do so. Students are advised about
the breadth of contacts they may approach to find a supervisor.
Year 5 Patient Information Leaflet.
Ethics and Law Portfolio. 10 Credits. 2 Case Reports.
for PMs Post Rotation Learning. This includes two elements:
a) A Clinical Apprenticeship in year 5 includes consideration of how
learning is achieved, and this filters into the Personal learning Plan. This
is supervised by a Trust-based clinical Supervisor, but: the PM receives
a Reflective Report on the Clinical Apprenticeship (deadline 29
b) PMs are asked to meet the student and approve the Post Rotation
learning plan. (details below) This includes additional clinical time,
FY1 shadowing, and use of post-exam period overall. You are
advised that the learning should be medical, (not driving or Spanish
lessons, for instance). The deadline for the Reflective Report and the
Learning Plan to be submitted is 29 March 2010, and the feedback
should be given by 04 May 2010. The handbook for this SSA is on
the PM website. A proforma has been provided for PM feedback on
both elements of the year 5 SSA.
Year 5 Supervision - Your personal mentor
(Selected) Your personal mentor will oversee your post-rotation learning. S/he will review
Advice to your reflective report and meet with you to approve your post-rotation SSA learning
Students plan. You mentor will provide you with formal feedback on your learning plan via
Remember that your personal mentor will be supervising more than
one SSA student, and will have many other commitments. It is your
responsibility to set up meetings at a time that is convenient to them,
including booking a room if necessary. You are strongly advised to set
up meetings several weeks in advance, especially around holiday times.
The timescales for submission of the SSA paperwork are relatively tight
and need to be strictly adhered to.
Putting your post rotation SSA learning plan together
Working through the questions/suggestions below will help you put together your
Step 1: reflect on your clinical ‘apprenticeship’ as far as possible*
Step 2: reflect on your year 5 learning as a whole
At the end of these two exercises, you should have a generated two lists: one of
areas that you need to work on and a second of areas that you would like to work on.
Step 3: identify your learning priorities
Step 4: identify activities that will meet your priorities
Step 5: write your plan - This should be in two parts:
Part 1: reflective report (including identification on learning needs
(max 1,000 words or two sides of A4)
Part 2: proposed timetable of activities
(in the form of a table, max one side of A4)
Questions to help with SSA reflection:
What value have I got from the experience as a whole?
Did I meet the specific objectives I set for myself?
How has my learning contributed to my achieving the GMC objectives?
What have I learned about planning?
What have I learned about managing my time?
What have I learned about approaches to learning?
What have I learned about my development needs?
Where do I go from here?
How are the skills I’m acquiring preparing me for work as a doctor – Foundation Year 1
Sometimes students may speak to you about their wish to take an SSA subject outside of
those arranged by the Medical School. They should be advised to speak to Emma Chambers
to sort out the academic side of this, and then to submit authorized absence or a rotation
request via the Request for Special Placement form, as needed. (All students are invited to
use this form to request, in February, particular placements for the next academic year. This
enables us to assist student for example those with dependents, or medical conditions, or who
need a particular rotation to facilitate special arrangements, as for SSA)
What happens if a student does not complete their SSA?
Procedure Title Years 1 & 2 SSA – Non-Completers
Programme(s) Involved MBChB
Programme Year 1&2
Key Contact for PMs Penny Hewlett: firstname.lastname@example.org
Students that do not complete any self-directed, academic-led, or poster SSAs in Years 1
& 2 need to be logged by the SSC team, so that alternative tasks can be allocated
Due to the constrained timetable in Years 1 & 2 the alternative tasks set may not be the
same as the original SSA
Students with authorised absences should be set alternative tasks in advance, which should
be agreed by their personal mentor and their year tutor
Students with mitigation should be set an alternative task in retrospect, which should be
recorded as a first sit, and agreed by their SSA lead, SSC Team, and year tutor.
Students who do not attend compulsory sessions or do not submit compulsory assignments
to a satisfactory level, without an authorised absence or mitigation, should be set an
alternative task in retrospect, which should be recorded as a second sit, and agreed by their
personal mentor and year tutor
Personal Mentors who see year 1 and 2 students from their group therefore need to
advise Penny Hewlett if they have not received an SSA report from any first or second
year students by the deadline given in the Mentor Calendar.
MBCHB Y1-5 (INCLUDING GEC)
SSC Marked Assessments are passed through TurnItIn (Plagiarism Software), Agreed
by CIG February 2009
Please note that the threshold for Plagiarism is 25% overall or 10% on any individual
element. The software is used as a guide and any infringements will be discussed with the
SSA lead in the first instance. Please note that some students do not understand auto-
plagiarism and might benefit from a reminder!
Outline information is below, but please note that there are step-by-step screenshots available
on the Personal Mentor Website: go to http://intramed.bham.ac.uk and log in. Select ‘student
grades’ from the left column options, and on the next page select ‘Personal Mentor
Information’. This brings up an A-Z of information. Pebble pad screenshots are under ‘P’.
What is PebblePad?
This is an interactive resource that enables students to log all developments and research as
they undertake their SSAs. Personal Mentors are asked to provide written feedback to pre-
clinical students re their SSA reflective reports. All students and personal mentors have a
pebblepad account. This applies principally to those Personal Mentors who see students in
years 1 or 2.
To Access Pebble Pad
All personal mentors have a pebble pad account. Go to www.pebblepad.bham.ac.uk and
enter your normal adf username and password (e.g. hewlettp and my normal password).
Students can search within their account an active directory of staff and opt to share an ‘asset’
with you, generally an action plan and reflective report. You will be able to respond in the
same way – a speech bubble on the page will bring you to a domain into which you can write
your feedback (much as for a blog).
Advice if you encounter a Problem:
You have several options if you encounter any problems with Pebble Pad
1. Go to the Pebble Pad website at http://www.pebblepad.bham.ac.uk and follow
2. Screenshots of the process of using Pebble Pad are available on the Personal Mentor
Website. This is found at http://intramed.bham.ac.uk and selecting ‘student grades’.
This brings you to a (blue) page which contains your PM group information, photos,
exam results. It also has a link (top right) called ‘Personal Mentor Information’ which
leads you to an A-Z list of forms, links, advice, policies etc. Various scenarios are
given in documents under ‘P’ which should resolve any difficulties.
3. Contact Penny Hewlett (email@example.com). She will forward documents or give
4. Contact Rob Jones: firstname.lastname@example.org from the Ed Tech Team, who is the expert