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Personal development planning in Higher Education Essay

As a student on the BA (Hons) in Education business course I had to partake in a scheme called Personal Development Program or PDP. In this essay I shall examine what PDP is and why it is included in higher education. I shall investigate its aims and achievements. In this essay I will also examine the arguments for and against the inclusion of this in higher education. To do this I will also include my own experience of PDP and my view of the program. In 1997 Lord Dearing complied a report into students and their performance in higher education. He explored the students learning and their academic results.

His findings indicated that the students were suffering form poor key skills and were not able to reflect on their work. He suggested that university as a form of higher education needed to so something to improve this result, thus the invention of PDP. PDP has now been introduced into many different universities including Greenwich. PDP or personal development program is the process of active learning, through which you learn about group interaction skills for example. A good example of group development is the use of peer marking and assessment of each other’s work.

PDP is also about reflection, reflecting on group work can help to point out any errors made and create a greater understanding of the topic in question. Reflection can also be used to improve future projects and groups activities as it allows you to study the fundamentals of the group as a whole and how well these worked in a learning environment. A good example of this “Reflection is the vehicle for turning experience into learning” (McAlphine and Weston 2000) this quote states that with out the ability to reflect we cannot learn.

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PDP can also be used to help develop other skills that are essential for higher education such as referencing skills. PDP can also be used to help new students understand that they must have an open mind when entering higher education. If their mind is not open it can limit their understanding and their acceptance of new ideas. Therefore it is up to PDP to help them recognise that knowledge and values are never set in stone. The PDP is trying to create a good basis for higher education style learning.

The PDP is trying to help develop students learning skills and their ability to reflect on their own work. According to Dewey 1933:118 reflective through is the ability to question our knowledge and therefore develop further open-minded theories. The PDP is aiming to improve the skills needed for higher education for example communication. Communication is essential in higher education it allows a student to improve their essays and to develop ideas. Without good communication skills seminars was be impossible and the sharing of ideas would not occur.

The PDP is attempting to improve student’s use of IT. A student could not function at university without knowledge of IT for example to obtain header sheets. IT is a vital part of student life and therefore PDP’s aim of improving students IT skills is essential. The PDP is also aspiring to encourage students to develop their social skills and their ability to work in groups. This is very important as new ideas can be developed through group work. Seminars are basically group workshops and therefore this skill is fundamental for the development of knowledge.

The PDP is also responsible for the development of problem solving skills. Problem solving skills are needed for answering assignment questions as often they can be problems for example disusing a theorists theory the pros can cons and being able to develop a critical evaluation of these. The overall aim of the PDP is to ImproveF:\ENG\adv. html student’s general learning and performance according to www. qaa. ac. uk/academicinfrastructure/progressFiles/guidelines/progfile2001. asp#what all universities have to have a personal development plan for all students.

This web site also insists that the PDP must help students to reflect upon their work and learning, to help students to learn from mistakes and to improve the standard of their work. PDP can be very helpful to new students who have been out of formal education for long periods of time. These can include mature students and even gap year students. This can be useful to them as the key skills that PDP covers need to be continuously used or they will begin to fade, PDP helps to reaffirm these skills. Reflection is very important in a higher education environment.

Many students find this particular task difficult or may not even do it. This is also a great basis for the use of PDP in higher education. Reflection can be used to improve standards of works and this can only be achieved if the reflection is done critically. PDP can offer students this skill and help them to develop their work to a higher standard. Group work can also be difficult for some students, as many may have not had a lot of opportunities to participate in team activities. International students may also feel that the use of PDP can be rather beneficial.

International students may come form a very different educational background and may find that the teaching and learning methods different therefore they would benefit form this course. PDP can also be used to help new students understand that in order to gain a good grade an open mind is very important when entering higher education. Open mindedness helps students to be able to see other points of views and to be able to discuss ideas without prejudice. The PDP can also help to encourage students to develop their social skills and their ability to work in groups.

That is the positive side of PDP but there are some drawbacks for example the majority of students have come straight form college or sixth form. They therefore would have acquired a large number of these abilities through the introduction of the key skills program in schools. This entails the introduction of communication, application of number and ICT for all students in sixth form. Communication is essential in higher education it allows a student to improve their essays and to develop ideas. But if this topic has already been covered in sixth forms, then students would just be repeating the same course.

My experience of PDP was largely a repeat of the courses I completed in college and sixth form as I came straight form college. I did not find PDP that challenging and I tend to slack slightly if work does not interest me. Although going over the referencing system did in fact help me somewhat as I was having difficulty with that particular topic. I also did not find the group interaction skills particularly useful, as I have always been quite good at working in a group but the peer marking was a good idea as it let me see what others though of my work.

The Honey and Mumford questionnaire was rather interesting as I came out as a reflector, which is true, I do tend to look back over everything and examine it. Therefore PDP’s aim of encouraging reflection was not really applicable to me. Although I did find it slightly interesting to learn about different types of learning and may have given me a better understanding of the way I learn. In conclusion Lord Dearing report stated that students really do need help with their key skills, as their achievements do not mach their potential. PDP stands for Personal Development Program and is the process of active learning.

PDP mainly concentrates on reflecting, as it is vitally important for students in higher education to be able to reflect over their work. This is so students can find the errors they have made and to be able to avoid them in the future. According to McAlphine and Weston 2000 “Reflection is the vehicle for turning experience into learning” and therefore need reflection to be able to learn. PDP also helps students to have an open mind when entering higher education. PDP can also be used to improve communication, ICT and our ability to work in groups.

PDP can be very helpful to new students who have been out of formal education for long periods of time. PDP can offer students new skills and help them to develop their work to a higher standard. PDP may be more useful to students who have been out of education than for those who have come straight from college. Therefore PDP is a good idea and can provide many benefit especially for those who have been out of education for a long period of time. Although I did not enjoy my experience of PDP I did however learn something and therefore it was useful.

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