Personal Development Training For Students Education Essay

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The aim of these guidance notes is to assist Schools in making progress on the development of PDPs for PGT students. It is not the intention to enforce a standardised PDP, but rather to provide an indication of choices available.

Why are PDPs being required for PGT programmes?

It is a policy requirement of the Quality Assurance Agency that Personal Development Plans (PDPs) should be operational across the whole Higher Education system for all Higher Education awards by 2005/06 (both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes). We must give all students the opportunity to undertake a Personal Development Plan, although there can be flexibility over the structure and form of the PDP for each programme. Indeed, there should be consideration given to what PDP elements need to be specific to each programme.

What is the purpose of a PDP?

The primary objective for personal development planning is to improve the capacity of individuals to understand what and how they are learning and to review, plan and take responsibility for their own learning. A PDP is not a single document but a framework for self-reflection on and support for students' skills development.

Personal Development Planning is a structured and supported process undertaken by an individual to reflect upon their own learning, performance and / or achievement and to plan for their personal, educational and career development. The primary objective for PDP is to improve the capacity of individuals to understand what and how they are learning, and to review, plan and taken responsibility for their own learning, helping students to:

become more effective, independent and confident self directed learners;

understand how they are learning and relate their learning to a wider context;

improve their general skills for study and career management; and

develop a positive attitude to learning throughout life.

PDP results in two intended outcomes:

Enhanced self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses and directions for change. The process is intended to help the student understand the value added through learning that is above and beyond attainment in the subjects they have studied.

A record of learning experiences and achievement, personal reflections and plans for self-improvement (Personal Records),that provide a unique resource to each individual. The information in such record is owned by the learner and maintenance, authenticity and use is the responsibility of the individual student.

There has been a great deal of work across the University over recent years to develop the undergraduate PDP. However, with the QAA's deadline approaching, it is clear that there needs to be some focus on the personal development of postgraduate students.

What to do to introduce PDPs for PGT programmes

At postgraduate level, the focus should be on ensuring that the personal development support mechanisms are in place and available for students. It is important to stress that a PDP is not simply a form (or equivalent web-based document). In preparation for September 2005, rather than start by developing a series of forms for students to complete, schools should first document and build on the existing good practice they have in providing that support for their postgraduate students (personal tutoring, programme directors, dissertation supervisors, handbooks, administrative support) and encouraging them to plan, develop and reflect. These activities will provide a structure for PDP and the need for any new documentation etc should follow from considering the adequacy of that structure. It may be that such structures are already in place and available to students, as part of course units or personal tutoring system.

At a minimum, we recommend that the structures in place should ensure that:

Students are encouraged to reflect on their skills at the beginning of their programme. This could be facilitated through a meeting with the personal tutor/programme director and could, for example, follow the completion of a skills audit in week one.

Students are set some reflective questions linked to the programme aims, which they are encouraged to consider in preparation for the next personal development meeting.

Specifically, students should reflect on their skills in preparation for the dissertation. This may be facilitated through a meeting with the personal tutor/programme director or dissertation supervisor, as appropriate, as part of the process of establishing choice of dissertation topic and supervision arrangements

It will be the decision of the school/discipline as to whether the programme director undertakes the role associated with "personal tutor", or, perhaps in the case of larger programmes, a separate personal tutor is assigned to the student.

It is also the decision of the school/discipline as to whether they will require, or provide opportunity for, the students to complete a plan or form containing reflective questions linked to the programme aims, the mechanism for this (web or hard copy) and whether students communicate that reflection. The Faculty QAE Office will be able to provide some examples of these if a school wishes to make them available to students. (Some examples of the generic types of questions that could be asked are attached in Appendix 1) While it is not a requirement that a specific template or set of questions be completed, we should ensure that what students are asked to reflect on does relate to the programme aims and that the structure does more than simply exhort students generally to self-reflect on what they are doing.

Information for students

In order to inform students about the personal development, the Faculty recommends that the programme handbook contains information about the approach and structure for personal development for students on the programme. (In some cases there may already be information there about an existing personal development scheme). The information should make clear the components that together comprise the personal development framework, what students are expected to do by/at what stage, and what the support/interaction with staff is expected to be in relation to the components.

An illustrative guide to such an entry is attached at Appendix 2.

Appendix 1: Reflective questions

Semester 1

Personal Development Plan for Students on Postgraduate Taught Programmes in the Faculty of Humanities

Suggested below are a number of questions that a student could be asked to encourage self-reflection and discussion during the Semester 1 PDP meeting. These questions are based on the assumption that the student has undertaken a skills audit and are designed to support that process. It is important that discussion takes place between the Personal Tutor and the student regarding the areas/implications of audit results.

Knowledge and Understanding

Previous Experience

Which aspects of your previous education experience and qualifications (college, A-levels, first degree) did you find the most challenging? Which aspects did you find the most engaging and rewarding? What skills have you developed through your previous education?

Can you identify any skills that you have developed or enhanced as a result of previous work experience, both paid and/or voluntary?

What are your main interests/leisure activities outside of your academic studies? Can you identify any skills which you have developed or enhanced as a result of these interests (eg. team working, leadership, communication skills)?

Do the results of your skills audit reflect that you have developed the skills above? Did the results of your skills audit indicate areas of weakness in which you require further development? What do you plan to do to develop those weak areas?

Current Course

Why have you chosen to study for this Masters programme? What are your expectations of the programme?

Do you understand the learning outcomes of the programme and how your skills development is linked to them?

Are there any skills you would like to develop during your degree? Are these reflected in any particular learning outcomes and course units?

Intellectual skills

Are you able to critically assess and analyse the strengths and weaknesses of arguments, ideas, methods?

Are you able to take a concept and apply it to a different situation?

Do you need to develop or enhance your conceptual and analytical skills? What strategies can you employ in order to do so?

Practical Skills

Information Gathering and Handling

Have you visited the John Ryland's University Library?

How confident do you feel about

finding books, journal articles?

using library electronic search engines (eg Athens, Emerald)?

using electronic journals?

using the WWW to find information?

the rules about copyright?

avoiding plagiarism?

Are there skills you need to develop further? If so, how do you intend to develop them?

IT Skills

Are you confident in using a computer for

Word-processing

Powerpoint presentations

Email

WWW

File management

Bibliographic searches

Do you need to develop/enhance any of these skills?

Time Management

Are you confident that you can manage your time effectively?

If you want to improve your time management skills how do you plan to do so? (i.e prioritise/structure your time/use a diary to keep track of lectures, tutorials, deadlines, appointments/ timetable a safety margin?)

Transferable Skills and Personal Qualities

Communication Skills

How confident are you that your oral and written communication skills are effective?

Are you able to set out an argument in a logical sequence, clearly and concisely?

Are you confident about presenting your work in front of an audience?

Do you need to develop or enhance your communication skills? Which skills do you want to work on and how will you go about this?

Interpersonal Skills

How well do you work in a team/as part of a group?

Do you contribute to discussion during tutorials, discussions?

Are you a leader? An active team member? Do you prefer to work on your own?

What strategies can you employ to develop or enhance your interpersonal skills?

Summary and Action Plan

Bearing in mind the previous discussion:

What are your greatest strengths. What are your weaknesses?

What areas are you going to prioritise for development during the rest of the semester?

What can you do to further your development in those areas?

Risk Factors

What are the major risk factors which might prevent you from achieving any of your targets? (eg. Competing demands from other commitments)?

Are there any contingency plans you can put in place?

End of Semester 1/Semester 2

Personal Development Plan for Students on Postgraduate Taught Programmes in the Faculty of Humanities

Suggested below are a number of questions that a student could be asked to encourage self-reflection and discussion during the end of Semester 1/Semester 2 PDP meeting.

Knowledge and Understanding

How do you feel your studies are progressing so far?

What elements of the programme are you particularly enjoying?

Are there any elements of the programme that you are finding particularly difficulty and why?

Have you achieved the learning outcomes of the programme so far?

Have you identified your dissertation topic?

Intellectual skills

To what extent are you able to critically assess the strengths of arguments, ideas, methods?

Are you able to compare and synthesise what you read or learn in tutorials?

How confident are you in forming your own questions in relation to course content?

Are you able to formulate your own argument ?

Are you able to make connections between the different course units you have studied and to use insights gained in one to help you understand another?

Have you been able to apply these skills outside of your studies?

Practical Skills

Information Gathering and Handling

What has been your experience to date with locating and selecting the information you need i.e the JRULM, electronic resources, the WWW.

Are you confident that you have the necessary skills to enable you to research for your dissertation or are there skills you need to develop further?

Time Management

Are you confident that you are managing your time effectively?

What techniques do you use?

Have there been any special circumstances that have affected your ability to study thus far?

Is there any way in which you could adapt your organisation of time to make better use of it?

Technical/Practical Skills

How have your technical/practical skills developed, ie?

Word-processing

Powerpoint presentations

Email

WWW

File management

Bibliographic searches

Have you acquired the skills necessary for the production of your dissertation?

Are there any skills in which you require further development?

Have you developed any other general skills that will be useful to you in future work?

Transferable Skills and Personal Qualities

Communication Skills

Have your writing skills developed over the semester?

Have you received feedback on written assignments from semesters 1? Has this enabled you to identify your strengths/areas of weakness?

How well do you think you are interacting with other students/staff? Do you participate in discussion during tutorials?

Do you have confidence in your communication skills or do they require further development?

Interpersonal Skills

Have you worked in teams/groups as part of your studies? How well do you think you have contributed to the work of the team/group?

Can you identify your main strengths/weaknesses when working in a team/group?

Have you undertaken any extracurricular activities that have allowed you to develop your interpersonal skills?

Do you think these skills will be useful to you when you graduate?

Extra Curricular Activities (eg. clubs joined, sports, voluntary work, part-time employment, leisure interests)

Have you developed or enhanced any transferable skills as a result of extra curricular activity (eg, team working, leadership, communication skills).

Summary and Action

Having reflected on your experience over Semester 1, have there been any particular circumstances that have prevented you from achieving any of your targets?

Are there any areas of development would you like to focus on/seek guidance about?

Appendix 2: Sample handbook information

(Note: The timing and content of the components referred to is illustrative only.)

Personal Development Training is a structured and supported process undertaken by you to reflect upon your own learning, performance and/or achievement and to plan for your personal, educational and career development. The primary objective for PDP is to improve your capacity to understand what and how you are learning, and to review, plan and take responsibility for your own learning, helping you to:

become a more effective, independent and confident self directed learner;

understand how you are learning and relate your learning to a wider context;

improve your general skills for study and career management;

develop a positive attitude to learning throughout life.

The planning and reflection required for personal development results in two intended outcomes:

Enhanced self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses and directions for change. The process is intended to help you understand the value added through learning that is above and beyond attainment in the subjects they have studied.

A record of learning experiences and achievement, personal reflections and plans for self-improvement (Personal Records) that provides you with a unique resource. The information in such record is owned by you and maintenance, authenticity and use is the your responsibility.

The components for personal development planning in this programme are:

September - You are expected to complete a skills audit (Cross reference to information) during registration week, and to reflect at the beginning of the programme on the skills you expect to develop. Your expectation should relate to your choice of optional areas of study where available. Your reflection and choice can be facilitated through a meeting with the personal tutor/programme director following the completion of the skills audit. (Should make clear if a meeting is required or available)

End of first semester. You are encouraged to reflect on the degree to which you have developed expected skills through some reflective questions contained in …..(reference). These questions are in part linked to the aims of your programme of study. It is your choice whether you share your consideration of these questions with your personal tutor/programme director and you are able to request a personal development meeting at this stage if you wish. (Or equivalent statement if a requirement rather than option.)

During the second semester. As part of the process of selection of your dissertation topic, you should reflect on your studies and skills in preparation for the dissertation stage of the programme. This can be facilitated through a meeting with the personal tutor/programme director/dissertation supervisor, as appropriate. Your preparation will be assisted by your development through the XY7332 Research Methods course which includes submission of your dissertation proposal and literature review.

At the end of the programme. You should review the development aims you established at the beginning of you programme and evaluate the extent to which you have attained your expectations. You may wish to maintain a record of your review as a basis for incorporating statements regarding your skills and attainments in a curriculum vitae or other document.

April 2005

Document Control

Policy Title:

Personal Development Training for Students on Postgraduate Taught Programmes in the Faculty of Humanities

Date Approved:

April 2005

Approving Body:

Faculty PGT Committee

Version:

1

Supersedes:

n/a

Previous Review Dates:

n/a

Next Review Date

2010

Related Statutes, Ordinances, General Regulations:

Related Policies:

Related Procedures:

Related Guidance and/or Codes of Practice:

Related Information:

Policy Owner:

Faculty PGT Committee

Lead Contact:

Lisa McAleese

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