What is PDP?
Before trying to explain this it is worth being clear about what it isn't. It ISN'T just about getting a job or about life after University. It is as much about improving your academic skills while you are at University so that you can perform better and achieve more. There is no clear and precise division between employment or employability skills and academic skills. Within LBSS academic staff have identified a number of skills as being essential for you to be academically successful. These are:
- Communication - oral and written
- Effective group work
- Problem solving
- Critical thinking
- Learning and technology skills
- Taking personal responsibility for learning
A quick glance should tell you that these are the same sort of skills that employers are looking for, or, if you want to take your academic study further by taking a postgraduate course, that those providing postgraduate education are looking for.
So what is PDP? PDP has been described as:
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. [QAA, Guidelines for HE Progress Files (2001), 8]
This definition incorporates at least three important elements: structure, support and planning, so how are these realised in LBSS?
Provided through the Moodle courses for year 1, year 2 and honours for each programme. These courses will provide tasks for you to complete which have been designed to look at a variety of skills as you progress through your degree. The courses will also prompt you to consider your progress at various points during the academic year. We hope to be able to have all students signed up to these, but if you want to sign up yourself follow the link to the course for you.
Support will be provided through drop-in sessions, both face-to-face and virtual, these will be announced through the Moodle courses. You will be able to suggest events on particular topics that you feel might help you. In addition, you shouldn't forget the feedback that you get from staff teaching on your courses -- if you feel you need feedback or don't understand the feedback you have received, ask about it.
This really covers a number of different activities: assessing what you think your skills, attributes and abilities are, reflecting on (thinking about) whether you need to develop any of these, considering how you might do this or what support you might need for this, taking the action you have identified and then reassessing what you have done. Because of this, PDP is sometimes represented in diagrammatic form a bit like this:
What are my skills, attributes and abilities?
What evidence do I have for these?
Why am I good at some things?
Do I need to develop any of these?
Have the things I have done had the results I wanted?
What is the evidence of this (e.g. better grades)?
||What do I do now? |
What skills, attributes and abilities do I want to develop?
How can I do this? - e.g. do I need more feedback, is there any training I can undertake?
||Implementing the Plan
Taking the steps you have decided you need
Monitoring how well these are progressing
At every stage you might want to record what your thoughts are, what you have done, and the evidence of your achievements, skills and attributes. You can't do this directly on Moodle, but you can save material and develop your thoughts on Mahara.
What's in it for you?
According to the University's Personal Development Planning Policy:
PDP ... provide[s] a framework to help students:
- Make sense of the experiences available to them at Glasgow University and how they relate to personal, educational or career-related goals.
- Learn more about the variety of development opportunities on offer.
- Summarise their student experience, reflect on, record and recognise 'critical' events and gather evidence of achievements and skills that are essential for academic performance, CV and career development.
- Develop the skills necessary for success both at University and beyond.
- Become more responsible for their own learning and development, with student ownership of the process and documentation.
- Engage with their learning process, foster a sense of community between staff and students and contribute to a more positive learning experience.
As well as giving you the chance to reflect on how you are progressing and to develop the ability to reflect on this, if you save your reflections, skills assessment and evidence in Mahara this will give you a bank of evidence for when you are applying for work or for further study and give you examples you can use when completing application forms or answering questions at interview.
Moodle is the virtual learning environment used at Glasgow. Existing students will be familiar with this and new students will become so.
Mahara is what is described as an e-portfolio. It allows you to save files (for example a skills audit or evidence of an achievement) and to create pages (what it describes as views) containing information in a variety of formats (similar to social networking sites). All the information you save or create on Mahara is private and only you can access it, unless you decide to let others see some or all of the information. Sharing might be helpful, for example, if you are doing a group project or assessment. More information is available here and here.