Personal development planning; an evaluation of student perceptions

Sarah Nixon


Personal development planning (PDP) is delivered differently across institutions and has been labelled a ‘chaotic conception’. The key concepts are around supporting, planning and reviewing learning whilst developing self-awareness. This paper uses a qualitative approach to capture the voices of a sample of students studying at a UK north-west university at two points of time, the end of their first and final year. Two main ways of scaffolding PDP are explored, the use of workbooks for goal-setting and reflection and studying in peer learning groups. The workbooks become less useful over time whilst meeting in peer learning groups become more important. The students felt goal-setting was valuable as a tool they would use in the future and also that reflection against their goals was crucial to success. This approach however wasn’t for everyone but even the dismissal of the philosophy by some came with an awareness of why it didn’t work and how it might have helped. Overall the sample were positive about PDP and this strengthened over the three years of study, thereby showing the ideas behind this concept do have a valuable place within the undergraduate curriculum.

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