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The future of PDP @ Birmingham City University. Ruth Lawton & Jo Powell Centre for Enhancement of Learning and Teaching. Objectives. What is PDP? Why are we engaging with PDP? Staff and student perceptions What does this mean for us? What are other HEIs doing? What else could we be doing?

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the future of pdp @ birmingham city university

The future of PDP @ Birmingham City University

Ruth Lawton & Jo Powell

Centre for Enhancement of Learning and Teaching

  • What is PDP?
  • Why are we engaging with PDP?
  • Staff and student perceptions
  • What does this mean for us?
  • What are other HEIs doing?
  • What else could we be doing?
  • How do we make change happen?
what is pdp
What is PDP…?
  • Our research shows that staff do not have a clear answer about what Personal Development Planning (PDP) is: “It’s about team working and communication”
  • QAA (2009) definition is: ‘PDP is a structured and supported process undertaken by a learner to reflect upon their own learning, performance and/or achievement and to plan for their personal, educational and career development. It is an inclusive process, open to all learners in all HE provision settings and at all levels’

*QAA Personal Development Planning: guidance for institutional policy and practice in higher education 2009

what is pdp4
What is PDP…?
  • QAA 2009 goes on: ‘Effective PDP improves the capacity of individuals to review, plan and take responsibility for their own learning and to understand what and how they learn. PDP helps learners articulate their learning and the achievements and outcomes of HE more explicitly, and supports the concept that learning is a lifelong and life-wide activity’
  • ‘The primary objectives of PDP are to enhance the capacity of learners to reflect, plan and take responsibility for their own learning and to understand what and how they learn. PDP is based on the skills of reflection and planning which are integral to knowing how to learn in different contexts and to transfer that learning throughout life’
pdp why do we need to do it
PDP-Why do we need to do it?
  • QAA: Personal development planning: guidance for institutional policy and practice in higher education 2009
  • HEA Learning & Employability series: Personal development planning and employability (revised edition 2009) BCU cited as good practice case study K*
  • Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR)
  • (inter)National Research – Centre for Recording Achievement (CRA)/Higher Education Academy (HEA)
  • Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) 2008
  • QAA: Learning from ELIR 2003-07: Emerging approaches to employability & personal development planning (2009)
  • Conviction:
    • PDP National Action Research Network
    • BCU Staff perceptions of PDP
    • BCU Student perceptions of PDP


qaa guidance 2009 why update
QAA Guidance 2009 – why update?
  • 10 years experience in HE of implementing PDP
  • Increased flexibility of when & where learning happening
  • Roberts review & postgraduate education development = learners will ‘take responsibility for their own personal and professional development’
  • Referral to PDP in subject benchmark statements
  • Pre university curriculum – personalised learning
  • Needs of mature learners and returners to study
  • CPD in professions, commerce and industry
  • Research evidence supporting the effectiveness of PDP approaches
qaa guidance 2009
QAA Guidance 2009
  • ‘QAA will, through its development and enhancement activities, support the introduction and development of institutional policies for PDP, and through its external audit and review activities encourage and promote the development of PDP processes by reporting on, but not judging*, the practice seen’ QAA (2009)

* my emphasis

qaa 2009 pdp is most effective when it is
QAA 2009: PDP is most effective when it is:
  • a main stream academic activity, explicitly supported by senior managers
  • linked to the learning objectives/outcomes of programmes
  • undertaken regularly
  • valued by learner
  • Supported and valued by staff
  • Supported by institutional structures, resources and expertise
  • Formally recorded and linked to assessment processes
  • Seen to be valued by society and other external stakeholders (eg employers and professional bodies)
identifying priorities for birmingham city university
Identifying Priorities for Birmingham City University

EXERCISE:QAA - Key actions for the effective implementation of personal development planning:

YOUR TASK:Identify the 3 actions that you think are the priorities for BCU

what s already happening

Integration of PDP into MA Ed module and PG Cert

Implicit integration into institutional strategies: L&T, RoLEx, WP

E-Portfolio Mahara launch with tools and pedagogic framework - Alan Staley

PDP and e-Portfolio Activist Group to support the projects

BCU Employability Award


Researching academic staff perceptions of PDP – Jo and Ruth

Graduate Employability Skills Framework for mapping employability skills opportunities to the curriculum- Rachel Moule (BSc Health and Wellbeing) plus tentative work in ELSS and BCBS

10 Step Reflection - BIAD


Student perceptions of PDP- Michael Schmidt and Ethan Rhemahn

Student use of e-Portfolio (BSc Hons Health and Wellbeing)-Rachel Moule and Ethan Rhemahn

Integration of Grad Skills Framework with the personal tutor system- BSC Hons Heath and Well Being)- Rachel Moule

Ongoing support for staff one-to-one and workshops (Jo & Ruth) including supporting staffs own PDP

Dissemination opportunities

SEDA PDF ‘Embedding Employability’

Workshops & consultancy

BCU L&T Festival


26th /27th Nov CRA conference- Manchester

April 2010 NARN national conference

What’s already happening?
our research with staff
Our research with staff
  • 136 responses to survey of staff perceptions
    • Pilot of questionnaire = 11 responses
    • On-line survey = 125 responses
  • Staff value PDP and when they find out what it ‘really’ is they value it even more ‘even though I valued PDP before I like it even more now’
  • Staff don’t like the resources: ‘moodle’ ‘too generic’
  • Staff miss the point – it’s a process
more staff results what is pdp
More staff results: What is PDP?
  • “Personal Development Planning is the glue which brings together the aspects of the course being studied. It is about the students taking ownership of their learning and answering the question what do I need to do to improve.”
  • “In theory PDP could be an individual reflexive process through which students identify their strengths and limitations and act upon them. In practice it seems to be yet another bureaucratic exercise.”
  • “Supposedly supportive, but is based on a false assumption that students will turn up and participate in such schemes and participate.”
pdp or its parts
PDP or its Parts?

PDP is seen as being important with a mean of 3.23 (1: Useless to 4: Very Useful). However, each of its parts is seen as significantly more important following statistical analysis *

There is a slight difference between faculties and how they view PDP. TID and BCBS see employability as the most important element of PDP, whilst the others consider reflection and self awareness as most important.

*Wilcoxon signed ranks non-parametric test carried out showing a significance to 0.001

our research with students
Our research with Students

Two pieces of research with students underway:

  • Members of BCU PDP NARN group: Jo & Ruth, Michael Schmidt (ASC) (+ funding via RoLEx), Ethan Rhemahn (Health) and Rachel Moule (Senior Learning & Teaching Fellow in the Faculty of Health and CETL).
  • Rachel's CETL research project investigated students reasons for engaging or not engaging with PDP via e-portfolio. Resultsso far: Focus group with 8 first year undergraduate students on BA Health & Wellbeing degree.
research with students
Research with students:

Student Perceptions of using e-Portfolio for PDP, their

motivations for engaging or not engaging.

  • Focus group found:
    • they really value the opportunities afforded by PDP
      • the time and space
    • BUT it feels ‘indulgent’
    • If given academic acknowledgement they would give it a higher priority
    • Needs to be more clearly integrated and signposted throughout the course
what have other heis done
What have other HEIs done?
  • Surrey: A resources Guide for Academic Staff
  • Leeds Met: How to Get a Good Degree by Phil Race – for every first year; and for all staff ‘Resources for Employability & PDP’ file
  • Edge Hill: PDP accredited and integral part of personal tutorial system; each department has a ‘champion’ to help embed PDP in the curriculum
  • Coventry: The Add+vantage Scheme on line Employability Learning Programme (ELP) assessed and accredited in all years of UG study
research and policy
Research and policy =…?

If the key to engaging students is to educate and engage our staff…

  • Re brand and rename PDP
  • Market the rebrand to staff and students
  • Continue with the staff survey analysis – we will table a report on the research at next L&T C
  • Continue to undertake research with students – Rachel, Ethan and Michael
our ideas engaging staff
Our ideas – Engaging staff
  • Generic Book: eg ‘Personal and professional development for your BCU students’
    • Issues: costs; too generic to engage staff
  • Faculty specific book: eg ‘Personal and professional development for your Health students’
    • Issues: costs; too generic to engage subject focussed staff
  • Compulsory (faculty / course specific?) workshops
    • Issues: logistics; non attendance; compulsion leading to resistance to the message
our ideas engaging students
Our ideas – Engaging students
  • Book: Your Future – what next?
    • Issues: costs; generic
  • Work book: (as above)
    • Issues: costs; environmentally unfriendly; still not specific enough for some courses
  • (Faculty/department specific?) elearning – including compulsory enrolment via faculty moodle: Your Future – what next?
    • Issues: staff still not engaged with Moodle; staff need to refer students; assessment leads to engagement; updating every ePDP course…

Personal and professional development (including employability) must be EXPLICIT to students

your ideas
Your ideas?

EXERCISE:What would help you to deliver PDP?

YOUR TASK:Jot down on post-its what you need to help you to embed personal development planning

  • The elements of personal development planning empower students, encourage life long learning, encourage academic attainment and better career decision–making.*
  • The key to engaging students is staff.
  • How do we engage staff?

ALL ideas (and invitations) welcome

* Inability to make good career decisions issue identified by Futuretrack research – 130,000 applicants to UCAS 2006 completed the survey: