Personal Tutorials and Personal Developing Planning
As an established vehicle for the discussion of students’ progress and aspirations, personal tutorials can be an effective means of facilitating personal development planning (PDP) for learners. Many Schools have favoured the implementation of PDP through personal tutorials over other potential models for this reason, and have found that the introduction of a more structured framework in which students can record their progress, identify goals and reflect on their performance, can also help give personal tutorials a greater clarity of purpose and provide a basis for a more productive tutorial session.
PDP aims to increase students’ understanding of their own learning through the documentation and analysis of their development and the explicit charting and management of educational and career goals. In undertaking a systematic programme of analysis, documentation and the planning of their own learning and career goals, students can gain:
- an increased awareness of the development of their own academic and related skills;
- an enhanced sense of self-direction and responsibility for their own development;
- a more holistic view of their learning beyond their current modules and immediate assessments;
- clarification of aims and choices for employment and further study;
- an opportunity to identify areas for improvement.
In turn, the implementation of PDP within personal tutorials can aid tutors in identifying the particular academic support needs of the student, facilitate more effective monitoring and provide an evidence base for discussion, record-keeping and reference writing.
Given that the role of the personal tutorial has traditionally addressed many of the issues associated with PDP, the implementation of PDP through the personal tutorial system can be accomplished with relatively minor adaptations:
i. Provide tutees with a means of recording their progress. This is fundamental to the PDP process and can take several forms. Paper-based journals, proformas and reflective diaries may be used. There are also numerous electronic solutions, from the e-portfolio functions offered in Blackboard to bespoke CD-Rom based packages.
ii. Adopt an overarching structure for a series of meetings which allows for (i) an initial audit of existing skills; (ii) ongoing recording and reflection; (iii) retrospective evaluation and a review of goals. Again, a number of alternative tools are available to help students chart their existing skills competencies, from questionnaires to web-based diagnostic software.
iii. Direct the personal tutorial discussion in ways in which deepen the tutee’s “ability to think critically about their own performance and how to improve it” . This can be aided by the use of the student’s reflective record (whatever form this may take) as the basis for a critical dialogue, or the setting of pre-arranged agendas which may include items on skills development or careers management.
The contexts of School and discipline will all shape the implementation of PDP and it is valuable to make links to the wider course of study explicit wherever possible. Institutional and externally-derived benchmarks, based on a set of minimum expectations, allow plenty of scope for personal tutors to implement PDP in ways which take into account the specific requirements and circumstances of the environment in which they work .
Sources of Guidance
Tutors are directed in the first instance to the designated PDP co-ordinator for their School. Beyond this, there is a helpful community of staff drawn from around the University who have particular interest in PDP, from academic Schools and the key related directorates of Information Services, Registry and the Careers Service. A number of projects, seminars and events take place each Session, and those that have already taken place are documented on the web sites given below. These pages can be a valuable resource for ideas, techniques and sample documentation, as are the national subject-specific and generic networks related to the Higher Education Academy.
For further information for the 2006/07 session, contact Dr Nathan Roberts (Registry)
Tel: 029 2087 9219
PDP at Cardiff
A comprehensive resource providing contextual information, policy documents, a series of off-the-shelf documents and presentations, case studies of School implementation and guides for using Blackboard for PDP.
HE Academy: Personal Development Planning
Range of care studies, guides and techniques for effective PDP practice.
Centre for Recording Achievement
National organisation offering a wealth of information and guidance including case-studies, projects and events.
QAA: Guidelines for HE Progress Files
Authoritative definitions and statements of minimum outcomes set out by the QAA.
 The minimum expectations and outcomes set out by Cardiff University are given in the “Policy Framework for Personal Development Planning”.