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					                     Student Learning Advisory Service


Personal Development Planning:
An Introduction
What is Personal Development Planning?

Personal development planning is a component of what is known as a Progress
File. You may have started a Progress File at school, but it may be something you
have yet to be involved in. All universities are beginning to introduce Progress
Files and this is something you may soon come across within your academic
department. There are three main parts of the Progress File
     A record of learning and academic achievements. This is often referred to
        as the transcript. All students have access to their record of course marks
        and exam marks via the on-line Course Management System. This is your
        transcript.
     An individual’s own personal development records and reflections of
        their learning, achievements, plans and goals;
     Personal development planning – a process that is undertaken by the
        individual to reflect upon their own learning and achievement and to plan
        for their own educational, academic and career development.

The term personal development planning is used in order to emphasise that this
is an active learning process undertaken by individuals for themselves. As such it
can be an entirely private process and unlike the other parts of the Progress File
there is no necessity to share the information it contains with any other
individual.


Personal Development Planning and Key Skills
Personal development planning ties in closely with Key Skills development. The
ability to record the acquisition of key skills is an integral part of personal
development planning and the reflective nature of the process is very much a
part of the skill of improving one’s own learning and performance. The transcript
records your academic achievements and personal development planning
complements this by providing an opportunity to record the other skills that are
acquired during your time at University. It can be a record of:

      Key Skills developed within your academic programme;
      Skills developed during involvement in Students’ Union Societies and
       volunteering schemes, or Course Representative training;
      Skills acquired during a ‘Year Abroad’ studying or working;
      Skills used in any paid work you undertake outside your academic
       studies;
      Key Skills from life in general, for example, time management, the ability
       to communicate in different situations, skills with I.T., and many more.


Amn/2003/jgs3/2006PDP                                                          -1-
                     Student Learning Advisory Service


Think about what you have done today and review the key skills you have used
in the course of such a day!

Personal Development Plans and the Future
      Personal development planning will help students:
      Recognise their own strengths and weaknesses;
      Plan their own academic and personal development;
      Be more effective at monitoring and reviewing their progress;
      Be more aware of how they are learning and what different teaching and
       learning strategies are trying to achieve;
      Be better prepared for seeking employment, by recognising the skills they
       have which are valued by potential employers;
      Be able to record these transferable skills in a C.V.

Tutors will expect a record of such skills, as well as the academic transcript,
when approached to provide references in support of any job application. Many
job application forms ask for information as to when you used skills such as
problem solving, giving a presentation, working within a team. Your personal
development plan can be a useful memory prompt for answering this type of
question.

It seems a long time ahead yet to be thinking of job applications, but starting
your personal development plan now not only helps with career prospects, but
will also help ensure that optimum benefit is obtained from your remaining time
at the University of Kent.


How do I start with Personal Development Planning?
The process of Personal Development Planning can be completed using the on-
line resource at:
http://www.leeds.ac.uk/textiles/keynote/Keynote_PDP/index.htm
A number of word documents are provided to help with the process. These can
be completed and either saved to your personal file folders, or printed and kept
as a paper copy.

At work, at home and at university, there are many opportunities for skills
development, so at the end of each term, it may be worth spending some time on
your personal development plan. It is also useful to revisit your personal
development plan at regular intervals throughout your academic career with a
view to gradually building up a record of your progress in this area. In your final
year, prior to starting to apply for jobs, it may be necessary to spend more time
on this process. This is also the period when you may need to have information
available to help with discussions with your tutor, and the University Careers
Service, as to the career path you wish to follow. The on-line system can also aid




Amn/2003jgs3/2006PDP                                                           -2-
                      Student Learning Advisory Service

with the production of the Curriculum Vitae, and contains a selection of likely
questions that may be included in job application forms.
If you need help with reviewing your Key Skills development, the following
website may be useful:
http://spider.kent.ac.uk/lskills/TLTP3/entersite.html
This also contains check-lists, which can be accessed from time to time to review
progress with your key skills development.



Personal Development Planning and Learning Journals
Personal development planning is all about being able to reflect upon your own
learning and achievement. This process of reflection can help you to become a
more effective student, to be in control of what you learn and how you learn, and
to be aware of how the process of changing yourself into an autonomous learner
comes about.

There are many different words that are used to describe what we are calling
learning journals. They may be called diaries, learning logs, or profiles. However,
we like the term learning journal as it is a developmental process an
accumulation of material based on your thoughts and reflections, rather than a
mere record of events and activities, such as would be found in, for example, a
ship’s log. Writing a learning journal is also a personal activity and we would
expect you to have different thoughts and reflections to another person
undertaking that same activity. This journal is therefore personal to you and you
may wish to keep its contents totally to yourself.

Learning journals are usually handwritten, but you may wish to complete your
version on a computer. For starting points:
    Visit http://spider.kent.ac.uk/lskills/TLTP3/entersite.html and follow links to
       learning diaries and logs.
    Additional materials and sheets can be added to your record as
       appropriate. Visit Learning Journals example sheet for a sample Journal
       sheet which you can use to produce your own journal (print or save to
       floppy disk).

The important thing about the learning journal is the writing, and for that you
need to make time to write. The time involved does not have to be long but it is
necessary for you to make time to stop and think. Then you write down your
thoughts. You may use the prompts on the sample sheets but you may have other
issues you wish to consider. Write down your thoughts in order to try and make
sense of the learning you are undergoing. Sometimes you will need to write a lot,
sometimes perhaps not so much or even just a few quick lines. The important
thing is to keep a written record of your thoughts and how you feel things are
progressing. This is the process of reflection.




Amn/2003jgs3/2006PDP                                                              -3-
                     Student Learning Advisory Service

When to write?
It is best to set aside some time each day for the learning journal. Reflecting on
the activities of the day gives us time to review the experiences and activities of
the day while they are still fresh in our minds. It is also an opportunity to note
down things we haven’t understood and determine how we can follow that up
the next day by asking the tutor, or by looking something up for ourselves. This is
how we become autonomous learners by taking control of the learning process
for ourselves. If we have had a good day and feel we have worked well and
achieved our learning goals, then it is a time to congratulate our selves. It is an
idea to record this in our learning journal, as a record of positive achievement is
good for our own confidence and self-esteem. By writing daily we will develop
our reflection and writing skills. It might not be easy to start with, but practice
will help us develop this skill.

The records you maintain in the form of the learning journal can be referred to
when you come to use the on-line Personal Development Planning software.
Documents you complete on-line can be stored on-line. However you may wish
to print the documents, this is entirely up to you. The important thing to
remember is that these are YOUR documents and hence how and when you do
this is also your choice.


At the end my studies, can I continue the learning journal and
personal development planning?
We very much hope that you will have discovered how worthwhile the process of
writing a learning journal can be. Reflection on the learning process is something
that can continue throughout your studies and further on into the rest of your
life. Do continue to write your journal include your reflections at regular
intervals in your personal development planning.

Perhaps you can then develop this process further. Focus on what you need to
achieve in the future and decide how you can ensure that comes this about. What
new skills do you need to acquire? Are there lifestyle changes you need to make
which will help you study more effectively? Do you need to be more assertive
with regards to your study needs to your family, tutors, and friends? Write your
reflections on these issues down.

It is also helpful from time to time to revisit earlier parts of this reflective
process. How have you progressed since that time? Are you still developing as a
learner? Keep reviewing your learning and your development. It is a lifelong skill.

You will also find that in time, your department will introduce Personal
Development Planning. By the start of the academic year 2005 all students will
be involved in this process.

Once you leave University it quite likely that the reflective process will be
continued within your chosen career. Many professional bodies expect their


Amn/2003jgs3/2006PDP                                                            -4-
                     Student Learning Advisory Service

members to undertake the process of Personal Development Planning and these
organisations are also starting to require this in departments involved with
teaching students likely to be working in that subject area. An example of this is
the Royal Society for Chemistry who have developed on-line systems to support
personal development planning for both undergraduate and post graduate
students.

Having problems?
If at any time you are unsure about the process of personal development
planning or have queries about completing your learning journal, please ask a
tutor, who will arrange for you to have some individual advice on the process.




Amn/2003jgs3/2006PDP                                                           -5-

				
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