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Saved by Norman Jackson
on November 2, 2009 at 6:30:18 am

Personal Development Planning (PDP)

is defined as 'a structured and supported process undertaken by an individual to reflect upon their own learning, performance and/or achievement and to plan for their personal, educational and career development'  (QAA Guide)


PDP embraces a range of approaches to learning that connect planning (an individual's goals and intentions for working, learning or achievement), doing (aligning actions to intentions but improvising where necessary), recording (thoughts, ideas, experiences, in order to understand and evidence the process and results of learning) and reflection (reviewing and evaluating experiences and the results of learning). Underpinning this fundamental epistemology is self-awareness or metacognition so that personal decision making is informed by the appreciation of the effects of actions.


According to Professor Michael Eraut who has studied 'how professionals learn through work', these actions are the basic actions that underlie successful performance in the workplace - assessing a situation, deciding what to do, doing it and monitoring the effects of what you do adjusting where necessary. PDP therefore links effective learning in formal study with what professionals do when learning is a biproduct of work.



But PDP is no more than a framework for learning through setting goals, acting and reflecting on performance and situations. It needs to be given life, purpose and meaning by students and teachers as they interpret and implement the ideas it contains in different learning contexts.


When I helped develop PDP policy in 1999 I believed that it was the most visionary of all the Dearing recommendations for improving students' learning. I also thought it would take at least ten years to embed into the higher education system. It has the potential to put students each with their own unique identity and voice at the heart of the higher education enterprise and to support the idea of self-regulation - smething we all need to learn if we are to be and become effective professionals.




I still believe this but the reality has been that PDP processes often emphasize the instrumental features of action planning, record keeping and reflection on action and performance and other important features of self-regulated learning are often neglected. All too often little consideration is given to the richness of the underlying motivations, emotions, values, beliefs, personal creativities and identity that underpin the an individual's sense of self-efficacy that drives and energizes what we do, particularly when we encounter the unknown and difficult challenges.


But as an education system we have made an important start and practices inspired by PDP offer our best hope of moving towards holistic notions of learning for a complex world.PDP is intended to encourage the growth in UK higher education of reflective practices that are essential to the development of reflective, metacognitive capacities and levels of self-awareness required to becoming expert at thinking about and working with complexity. Similarly when viewed from the complex world perspective, Progress Files (particularly when they are implemented through e-portfolios) represent an attempt to recognise the complexity of learning, experiences and achievements that make up what Professor Ron Barnett calls 'being for complexity.'


But the implementation of PDP is a ‘wicked problem’. By that I mean the challenge of how to do it continually emerges from all the technical, informational, social, political and cultural complexity that characterizes implementation in each teaching and learning context. Such problems cannot be solved through simple, rational, standard solutions because the problem definition and our understanding of it evolve as we continually gain new insights and new potential solutions are implemented. If you are a PDP practitioner I hope that you will share your thinking on the relationship of your PDP practices to supporting the ideas in this wiki.
See Arti Kumar's SOAR framework.
This page is maintained by Professor Norman Jackson who is Director of the Surrey Centre for Excellence in Professional Training and Education (SCEPTrE) 
The Centre for Recording Achievement is the UK Centre of expertise for PDP and E-portfolio related activity


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