So what is Personal Development Planning ? This part of the web-site gives you an Introduction to Personal Development Planning. It will take you around 2 hours to complete and is a vital foundation for all your future work on this course. After that, Stage 1 of the Personal Development Planning process follows. To read it and carry out the activities should take you between 3 and 4 hours. Guidance on Stage 2 can be found elsewhere on this web-site. Its activities will take you between 1 and 2 hours to complete. The rest of the PDP process - Stages 3 and 4 - is on-going – you’ll be doing a little every week for the rest of this semester and then reviewing your progress at the end of this semester. The PDP process helps you to make an important investment in your future as a student, as a person and as an employee (or employer !) The activities described here have helped many people become more effective in their studies and beyond. You can work on these activities alone if you wish. There is plenty of information in these web pages to help you. Don’t wait to be told what to do – use your initiative and get started ! In addition, your Student Adviser may well invite you to meet with them in a small group of students to help you through the process. If it’s possible, this should take place early in the first semester of your year’s study, so that you get the full benefit of the PDP approach. In any case, your Student Adviser is someone who can help you with any problems you may have understanding PDP. So let’s explore Personal Development Planning ….. Introduction - Self-appraisal means finding out where you are up to and what you have going for you before you plan to go any further - Have you ever had an ambition – something which fires your imagination and gets you motivated ? Some people discover early on in life what they most want to do. Others come to things they enjoy without apparently too much planning. Still others find out too late what they would have liked to have been and done. Personal Development Planning doesn’t say you have to have an ambition, but it does encourage you to make the most of your everyday opportunities to grow and develop. You don’t need to have a burning ambition in order to develop yourself. But you do need to have a motivation of some sort. It might be mainly an interest in a certain area of knowledge or else a desire to become a respected professional. You may wish to travel the world and not think any further ahead than that, or perhaps to focus all your attention on a few family members – for the time being. (Paying off your student loan might be a first priority !) Whatever your present sense of direction, and whatever stage of life you may be in (whether 18 or 65), you can get more out of your education at this time by clarifying what your motivation is and by being an active learner throughout your course. Here are some of the things which may motivate and stimulate you to learn. Which might apply to a school-leaver ? What could be motivating a young returner to education (in their 20’s or 30’s) ? What might stimulate the desire to study in an older student (someone in their 40’s, 50’s or 60’s) ? ! ‘ I love learning about the world and getting a scientific understanding of things’ ! ‘All my friends are going to university and I don’t want to be different’ ! ‘I want to be a professional and get status’ ! ‘My job’s boring and I’m desperate to do something with my mind’ ! ‘I can go further in my work if I invest time in getting a qualification’ ! ‘I always liked English/ Biology/ Art/ technical stuff/ computers (etc.) and feel comfortable with that area’. Task One (15 minutes) Now that you’ve thought a little about motivation for learning, please go to My PDP, use your User ID and Password, and record your present thoughts about what is motivating you to study at this time. Then come back to this page and continue. So an important starting-point for Personal Development Planning is clarifying your motivation. You may find there are several strands to it – financial, personal, professional, social. As you work through your course, one strand may replace another as the main motivator. The sooner you realise this – the better. You can either act to correct it or else adapt to it. Working out what moves you on is one aspect of a broader process we can call self-appraisal. This is the first stage of your Personal Development Planning – getting a realistic picture of where you are at right now in your personal development. To appraise something means to judge the value or worth of something. This doesn’t mean that you are judging the value of yourself as a person. As a unique individual, your value as a person cannot be confined to some measurement of your skills or knowledge. It is there because you are alive. You are one human soul, which is as much as any one of us can be. But personal development planning reminds us that we are in the process of growth and change, and as such, we can be active makers of change rather than passive receivers of it. It reminds us that in society we are forced to constantly negotiate a role for ourselves as we interact with others. Not many of us receive things without trying. We are unlikely to fall into a great job or a wonderful relationship without some effort on our part. Every decision has results and we can have a degree of control over the outcome if we are willing to make a choice and go with it. This involves repeated decisions about what we value – about who we want to be and what we decide to do. Even though it’s our values which provide our basic motivation, many of us don’t know clearly what our values are. That’s why the process we call education is mainly about you deciding what you are going to value most. Task Two (30 minutes) We looked a while ago at some of the motivators which lead people into higher education and you wrote something in your My PDP space about that. Take a few minutes now to think about the other side of what our world offers us. Every silver lining has a cloud. What negatives are you willing to put up with in the next few years in order to achieve something you want to ? Here are some to think about : ! not having much available money because my job may be poorly paid ! not having much choice of what work I do ! not being respected much, because my job doesn’t carry status ! not having many holidays or much free time because I’ve entered a respected but pressured profession ! being tied to one workplace and one set of workmates ! always having to work on my own and having to motivate myself ! facing unpopularity because of my chosen vocation. Task Three (15 minutes) Now go back to your My PDP pages and record some of the things you think you are and are not willing to accept. While you’re there, record for yourself any choices you need to make now, in order to avoid any of these ‘clouds’. Self-awareness isn’t easy - Looking in a mirror, for most of us, is not always a pleasure. We don’t always like what we see and the experience can be embarrassing. Self-awareness can also be uncomfortable, but is necessary - So as you do self-appraisal activities, you are drawing together a picture of yourself as you are (or as you think you are) right now. What are your interests and achievements ? What do most fear and most desire ? What personality and temperament do you have ? What are your strengths and what weaknesses are you aware of ? Studies indicate that whether in full-time study or in employment, we are often poor at measuring accurately how well we do things. This can be because we don’t like to look at ourselves. We’d rather be blissfully ignorant than painfully aware ! Perhaps a majority of us have an inner dread of standing back and asking how well they do things because it feels like another exam. Something personal in us may be exposed, found wanting and ridiculed. This is a very real and very understandable fear. However, nearly everything we ever learn involves overcoming obstacles, among which fear of failure may be a common one. As adults, we should be able to see that our fears can make the barriers to progress appear much bigger than they actually are. We tend to have to go through a cycle like this. Think about your own experience of learning to drive or trying to pick up a foreign language. Read the diagram anti-clockwise : A. As I approach the new D. Finally (if I stick at it) : topic or skill : • I get good at it • I feel confident • I get confident • I don’t realise how little I • I feel proud of my know achievements • I expect to make good • Others recognise my progress progress • I start to do the skill without • I am looking forward to needing to think consciously C exercising the skill about it O comfortably N B. As I start to explore the C. Gradually, if I keep subject : trying: F • I am horrified at how much • I start to make progress I there is to learn • I find something to enjoy D • I feel very awkward in my • I sense that I’m going in the E first attempts right direction N • I fear that I’ll never manage • The fear of failure begins to to grasp these new ideas or subside and confidence C actions begins to grow E • My confidence plummets COMPETENCE It’s worth noting that most learning takes us through that nasty second stage, in which our confidence drops and we realise how much we don’t know. It’s tempting to give up on that skill or area of knowledge. Everything in us wants to find something to learn that we’re more comfortable with, something we’re already good at. Task Four (30 minutes) Now go to your own My PDP pages and write a brief description of how you went through the 4 stages of learning when you learned to drive, to operate a machine, to speak French, to search on the Internet or any other skill or area of knowledge you have learned. Describe your feelings at each stage, keeping your account to 200 or 300 words. Then come back to this page so we can tackle the first major assignment. If we have started on the violin and find the guitar much easier, then why not change over? Or if we struggle with French but like Spanish, the consequences of changing may not be major. But when it comes to knowing about ourselves and what we do well and not so well, there’s no substitute for hanging on through Stage B until we reach the third stage and get a good and honest picture of ourselves. Stage 1 : Self-appraisal So now let’s start on this process of self-appraisal, looking first at a key helper you need. Over-confident or under-confident ? - Confidence is a key to learning – If you take part in or watch sport, you will probably agree that confidence is a very valuable commodity. Athletes and other sportspeople work hard at developing confidence and when they hit a low patch they put into practice all they’ve learned from their coach about self-talk. They try to talk themselves out of the hole they’re in. Some of us may be naturally confident people. We expect to succeed, which is very helpful. If you are that kind of person, then your natural confidence could help you through the stages of self-appraisal quite quickly. However, sometimes we may have an exaggerated sense of our own skill because there have been few opportunities to compare our performance with that of other people. We may also have imagined ourselves doing a certain activity, say, giving a presentation to an audience. In our own mind, we feel that we know what to do and how to do it. However, in the reality of actually doing it, we may discover that we have simply seen it done well and thought it looked easy, much as ice-skaters make what they do look easy. Two minutes on the actual ice may bring us down with a bump, in more than one sense. On the other hand, many of us can suffer from the reverse problem. If you have tried something in the past and felt a failure or been embarrassed, then you may shy away from doing it again. But most activities – from driving a car to reading a complicated text – consist of learnable skills. We may not feel talented in that area, but practice always makes a difference If you can overcome the mental block, you may find you can make excellent progress in the skill or activity you have feared. This effect is often very visible in adults who return to learning. If you come to your studies having been a full-time mum or having worked in a fairly monotonous job, you may have very low confidence about learning. You may fear the classroom and the text-books and may be convinced that it isn’t going to work. However, although your confidence is rock-bottom, your competence may be considerable. Among other things, you may be : • An excellent manager of your own time • Someone who is able to get along with almost anyone An experienced ‘people’ person, • A skilled organiser of resources • An experienced manager of your own moods and feelings • A major asset in discussions because of your experience of life • A capable problem-solver with plenty of initiative • An experienced traveller, with knowledge of several cultures The process of self-appraisal for such a person may start as a nightmare (I’m sure I won’t be able to do anything at university!), but soon change to a much happier scenario, as you discover that your life experience has given you many assets which have not yet developed in your younger class-mates. By contrast, younger students may feel inferior to the age and wisdom of returning adults, but may be pleased to realise that they have : • Ready-made study skills • The habit of studying regularly • A flexible and open-minded approach to new topics • Plenty of stamina and energy • Only themselves to support financially Task Five (15 minutes) One important way for you to improve how you operate as a student is to discover what helps you learn and what hinders you. Let’s take a few minutes to note down what you see at this time as your strengths and weaknesses with regard to studying. Make a note (in your own My PDP pages) of any items on either of these lists which apply to you. Add any others you can think of and put this list under Strengths in your SWOT analysis page (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Developing your Learning Strategies - Learning isn’t just about absorbing information. It’s about constructing maps to guide you around your world - One purpose of the Personal Development Planning Scheme is to help you to find better ways to study and learn. We want to encourage you go grow from being a dependent learner to becoming independent and then from independent to interdependent. That means the ability to function under your own steam, but also working closely at times with others To help you to grow in that way, your tutors will be pushing you to think and to question, to evaluate the knowledge and the theories you encounter. Your course involves you gaining knowledge, but you will also be deciding what is important to you, what career (if any) you wish to pursue and the direction you want to go in your life. But PDP is about more than study skills. It’s about helping you to transfer what you learn from one context to another. Simply by making connections between one area of knowledge and another, we can increase the value of what we are learning. Most scientific discoveries, many works of art, thousands of business ideas and many theories and insights come from doing just that – making connections. This can mean applying in the workplace what has been learned in the classroom or seeing a pattern in this information which can give understanding in that field or applying in a new area a question or a principle taken from another field. Thinking of learning as map-making is very helpful because it stresses the important aspects of the learning process. A map is good short-hand for a theory, approach or way of perceiving things because a map helps us to find things and to go places. In much the same way, learning (getting a new map) helps us to find understanding we haven’t had before and also to do things with it which were beyond us before. A map is a guide for exploration and action. The analogy is also useful because, like maps, theories and approaches are only a representation of the actual territory they cover. Theories have a way of becoming outdated – still helpful in some areas but not a true guide in others. What a map does What a theory or approach (within your subject/ disciple) does Gives you a way of recording what is where Shows you the extent of what your subject/ discipline aims to cover Enables you to find your way from one place to Allows you to transfer understanding from one area another of your subject to another Can show the relationship between different places Show relationships between different areas of knowledge within your subject Can quickly go out of date as roads, boundaries and Can be overturned, at least in part, as events or new settlements change evidence bring disparities to light Can be updated and improved if the roads change or Can be altered or replaced to take account of new if it is found to be inaccurate information So as a learner within your subject, you are getting familiar with and trying out the maps used by others. In some subjects, these maps may be largely agreed within the related professions and may only change slowly. In other disciplines, the maps made by various experts may be very different from each other and may be hotly debated on an on-going basis. Each map, then, has great value but, on the other hand, knowledge tends to advance in all fields and the ability to question and compare different maps is vital. Often the professional will find that they need to have access to and use a variety of different maps of their subject, with each being appropriate in some situations but not so helpful in others. Learning involves : ♦ Understanding the way your subject (discipline) looks at the world – the kind of maps it is trying to produce ♦ Getting familiar with the major maps which have been made by other people in your field of knowledge ♦ Learning how to evaluate each map by comparing it with others and with current factual evidence ♦ Knowing which map is the best guide for each situation you meet as a professional A vocabulary of abilities - To read, test, make, compare and improve your maps will involve many capabilities - Since using maps is a key element in the learning process, it would help you greatly, as a student, if you felt comfortable with these processes of reading, testing, making, comparing and improving maps. Your degree studies may start with the memorisation of some solid and dependable facts, but it will very soon become map-work – looking at how different approaches interpret information. This transition can be a difficult one, since we tend to prefer certainty to uncertainty. We like the idea of having dependable knowledge of our world. We would like to walk on solid ground, but soon discover that instead we have a variety of maps of the territory, but not enough time (or energy or desire ?) to explore all of it ourselves. The capabilities are designed to help us with this transition in how we think and what we expect to do when we learn. Similarly, learning is all about applying maps of some areas to other regions. Perhaps our analogy breaks down a little here, but learning can be thought of as very much transferring maps (theories, approaches and methods of working) from one situation to another. So for example, if you speak good Spanish and find yourself on holiday in Portugal or Italy, you may well be able to follow quite a lot of the conversations going on around you, since there are some important similarities between those 3 languages. Having learned one, you would have many maps within that language of which some would prove a rough guide if you decided to learn a second language out of the group of 3. As another simple example, once you have learned to drive a car, it isn’t so hard to transfer this skill to other vehicles. The skills are essentially the same, but you will need to adapt them. Spend a few minutes on this next task so that you get a good understanding of this principle. Task Six (15 minutes) Complete the table below. How easy would it be to transfer the skill of car-driving to each of these other vehicles ? How much extra effort and learning would be needed in each case ? What kind of extra knowledge and skills might be needed ? The vehicles are : tank, van, lorry, articulated truck, Formula One racing car, motorbike, JCB digger, tractor. List them in order with the closest first and the most distant last, like this : Vehicle Extra knowledge and skills needed Car - (Example) Tractor • How to use higher number of gears • How to drive straight and slowly – eg. for ploughing • How to tow trailers, rollers etc • How to reverse with a trailer ! (Etc.) Some of the transfers would be fairly easy, while others would involve special training and lots of practice. These 2 examples (the 3 languages and the various vehicles) illustrate processes which are part of learning. Whenever we approach a new area of knowledge, there are methods and maps we already have which can help us to make progress quickly. However, research evidence suggest that most of us need to improve how we transfer our knowledge and skills from one situation to others. We need to be helped to see the links and relevance between one area of knowledge and another. It follows, then, that as we study, we need people and activities which will help us to get beyond shallow learning (acquiring facts) into deep learning – the ability to question ourselves and others, as we work to build up our own internal maps of areas of knowledge and the links between them. So how can we help you, the student, to get good at learning and transferring ? The UHI Millennium Institute has put lots of time and energy into working out ways to support you the student through these processes, which are so important for your learning. Building on the work of ground-breaking universities and colleges around the world, we have created a vocabulary of 24 capabilities which we see as the essential skills which can be transferred from any situation to almost any other. They are a toolkit of intellectual and practical abilities both for learning and for working – the skills of reading, testing, making, comparing and improving your maps. These are skills you will never stop using, no matter what vocation, industry or country you work in. The UHIMI Capability statements are also an excellent tool for self-appraisal because they identify these key transferable abilities you are developing. The statements also describe 3 stages of growth in relation to each ability. Why ‘capabilities’ ? ‘Why are they called capabilities ?’ you may ask. Other colleges and universities (as well as many schools) use the term core skills or key skills. In the UHIMI, we talk about capabilities because this word has become accepted as describing something more than core skills or key skills. Capabilities are ‘more’ because firstly they are broader, covering a much wider range of activities (for example, cognitive skills – how we think).. Secondly, capabilities are ‘more’ because they are not an end in themselves. They are a means for you to empower yourself. Working with the capabilities helps you to change the way you think about yourself, which is the key to your on-going development. Your everyday experiences offer excellent opportunities for you to grow as a person as well as towards a profession. Working with the capabilities enables you to make the very best of what life brings your way. This is why their full title is the UHIMI Personal and Professional Capabilities – the PPCs for short. Task Seven (30 minutes) The next self-appraisal activity you should do is to go through the PPC statements, scoring yourself at level H1 or H2 or even H3. (You may not be entirely clear about what each capability statement is looking for. Ask your Student Adviser for help with this, if possible.) Try and be honest about your abilities, since an exaggerated sense of what you can do will only slow down your learning. On the other hand, don’t be too tough on yourself. If you can remember times when you have done well with a certain capability, then give yourself credit for it. Take about a minute for each statement. To record what you think, go to your my PDP pages and use the list of PPCs given there. Then return here complete the self- appraisal stage of your Personal Development Planning. By now you should have gone through the entire list of capabilities. This is quite a challenge, so well done if you have managed to complete it. As you go in your studies, you will become familiar with the PPC statements, so don’t worry if you feel rather overwhelmed by the total list. Task Eight (one hour) Your next-to-last task is to do some different self-appraisal activities. These are a little more light-hearted – the ‘psychologist’ who wrote them is called Cyberia Shrink. All the same, they are helpful ways of getting you to think about your personality and the strengths you have. Don’t forget that in Personal Development Planning and the capabilities, you’re looking at yourself as a total person, for example, how you : • function as a student (how you learn) • manage your personal time • get on in the workplace • handle decisions in your personal life Your task now is to go to the web-site below and to do 2 or 3 of the questionnaires, saving your results into you’re my PDP pages. Some questionnaires take 15 minutes while others take longer. Do what you can in an hour. SWOT Analysis - A summary of where you are at right now, as a basis for future growth - This stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. You should now have become clear about at least some of your strengths and perhaps some of your weaker areas too. Now it’s time to pull together what you’ve learned so that you can make a plan to get you off to a good start in your present round of studies. You have helped you to look at yourself through several lenses : • your motivation for learning (Tasks 1 – 3) • your study skills and habits (Tasks 4 – 5) • your capabilities more generally (Task 6) • some further questionnaires about your personality and behaviour (Task 7) Your SWOT analysis (in your own My PDP pages) uses this format : STRENGTHS WEAKNESSES • • OPPORTUNITIES THREATS • • Task Nine (30 minutes) You should now be able to list several strengths you have – up to a dozen – both in terms of your study habits but also strengths of personality more generally. For example, being a sociable person may not relate directly to your studies, but it is a valuable strength which will help you to be successful as a student, later as an employee and also in your personal and social life. On the other hand, you may be a very reflective person – a deep thinker. This is a very different strength, but no less of an advantage to you. It’s important to be positive about these strengths, so if in doubt, add them to your list. Under weaknesses, you should list any areas of your personality or behaviour that you’d like to strengthen. For the sociable person above, this might be the need to develop the habit of private study – hard for someone who likes to talk and listen. That person could list Concentration in private study as a weak area. For the deep thinker, the weak area might be Poor at sustaining friendships. So now you have a good idea of where you are starting from at this point in your personal and professional development. You can now think in detail about how to go forward from here. Before you can go to Stage 2: Target-setting, you need to identify 2 sets of influences which are likely to affect your progress. Situations and experiences which should be friendly towards your personal growth are listed as Opportunities. Factors which could work against your development are listed as Threats. Under Opportunities you could list, for example : • the modules you will be studying this year – list them • the social activities you expect to get involved in – say what they are likely to be • any part-time work you will be doing – since this will give you many opportunities to develop your time management skills, your assertiveness and so on • any family responsibilities you have – since these can help us to grow • and any other situations or experiences which may offer you a chance to develop Under Threats list any factors within your personal situation which might prevent you from getting the best out of the opportunities for growth you have now listed. These could often be external factors beyond your control. Your list could start with : • lack of money – preventing you from finishing your course • illness – recurring or new problems • any other personal problems – homesickness, depression etc. • any family or relationship problems which may arise – children sick, husband/ wife loses their job etc. • etc. You might also want to list any internal threats - personal weaknesses which could undermine your desire to go on learning and developing the way you plan to. For example, allowing deadlines to pass without completing work for your course can be a major problem for some students. If this is how you tend to operate, then this should be listed as a threat. Task Ten (30 minutes) A good way to complete your O and T lists on your SWOT analysis would be to spend a few minutes brainstorning these factors. Let your imagination explore your future, both positively and negatively – hopes and fears. Once you have thought of 6 or 7 factors in each section, record these in your My PDP pages. You are now ready for Stage 2. I hope you have begun to see that the Personal Development Planning process is going to help you to make the best possible progress in your studies and future life.
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