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Title: An exploration of the implementation, impacts & experiences of PDP at a single UK university
Author: Tymms, M. A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5350 4464
Awarding Body: University of Worcester
Current Institution: University of Worcester
Date of Award: 2014
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The aim of this thesis has been to explore the implementations, impacts and experiences of Personal Development Planning at a single UK university. Combining an illuminative evaluation mixed methodology (Partlett & Hamilton 1972) with a Sartrean existential model of identity formation, the study has sought to examine both the systematization of PDP within a range of disciplinary cases and the ways in which student beliefs, attitudes and motivations have impacted on the ability of those systems to drive personal development as a product of each particular learning context. Traditionally, PDP research has focused on the systems into which the innovation has been integrated, the individual student often a secondary concern to the motivations and practices underpinning the creation of the system in question. Research that locates the individual student at the centre of the PDP process has therefore been scarce, and the application of a Sartrean philosophical ground in this instance may therefore be seen as a response to this particular viewpoint, focusing as it does on individuals as fundamental drivers of their own personal development. Here, identity is formed within a political, and often paradoxical, negotiation between ‘self’ and ‘other’, with each party, or parties, demanding different responses from the other, or others. Where these demands of each other exist in conflict so development is framed within the ability to resist or comply with external pressures to develop in particular directions; be those socio‐economic, professional or personal. Drawing on Sartre’s position of student‐as‐motivated‐individual, an idiographic focus subsequently highlighted the role of congruence within student and lecturer attitudes and actions. For lecturers, decisions on how they would engage with PDP often appeared dependant on how they saw the discipline they were working in and their role within it. Consequently, what lecturers often expected from their students could be seen as a mirror of how they viewed themselves. In contradiction to authors such as Bernstein (1996) and Clegg & Bradley (2006a) staff attitudes to PDP were not constrained by discipline or professional category in a generalized sense, but were determined by individual perceptions of those categories by their members. With each variation in understanding came different attitudes to assessment, practice and tutorial support, where significantly PDP was most commonly located. Each member of staff could on some level be seen to be defending their own perceptions and identities, projecting their own image out to their group as an exemplar. This was a position that was also commonly reflected in the attitudes of staff members to the motivations of government, and the sector, to impose PDP on pedagogic practice. For the student, entering university with a particular identity based on a milieu of past experiences and expectations, and working towards particular personal ambitions, their willingness to adapt appeared equally reliant on the levels of congruence that existed between ‘self’ as learner and members of staff as exemplars. Where contact between the two parties was minimal then students in this study often appeared to be working around the system in a way that offered them the least challenge. Inevitably, the levels of compliance appeared linked to the degrees of congruence between the many parties involved, both educationally and socially, and the allowance within the PDP system to either comply or ignore the preferred states being offered them. As with staff members, students within this study appeared prone to act defensively in order to maintain their existing sense of ‘self’.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: LB2300 Higher Education