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Introducing personal development planning at the University of Central England

This case study, by Val Humphreys of the University of Central England (now called Birmingham City University), was produced as part of the LTSN Generic Centre PDP project in 2001. It is one of a series of nine case studies on the use of PDP across a range of disciplines.

In 2000-01 we piloted the use of student progress files by our Year 1 students (full time and part time – 220 in total). These took the form of a learning log, underpinning our personal tutorial processes.

Students meet regularly with their tutor, individually and as a group, and record achievement based on the law benchmarks in their file. The file is designed to encourage reflection on the learning process and planning for personal and career development. The activity is compulsory, and the file is intended to remain with the student throughout her/his time with us.

What skills and capabilities are you setting out to develop?

Using the process is a learning activity in itself, which we feel demonstrates in particular skills of communication (oral and written), reflection and self awareness, and time management. It forms 15% of the assessment of a 24 credit module.

How has it worked for you?

Students have been very positive and have broadly supported and enjoyed the process. Reaction from staff has been mixed, but most believe it to be a useful adjunct to our other support systems. There is a general feeling that assessment of the process is essential for it to be taken seriously!

The main barrier has been the additional workload on already over-burdened academic staff. There is a high resource cost in terms of staff time – both in developing and monitoring the process, and in staffing it. However, there is a widespread feeling that the benefits outweigh these costs, in terms of student support and, hopefully, retention.

Last Modified: 30 June 2010