A guide to recording experience and learning from it
What is Personal Development Planning?
Studying at university is not just about learning a lot of things that are fascinating in themselves but — at least in the case of most Arts subjects — rather disconnected from ‘the real world’. At the same time as you develop your knowledge of your subject and the skills required to perform well in it, you’re actually developing a whole range of skills and intellectual abilities that can be transferred to other areas of life, including your future employment. Arts subjects don’t generally equip you for a specific job; they actually equip you to undertake almost any job that doesn’t required specialised scientific training. Moreover, university life is intended to present you with all kinds of chances to develop yourself as an individual with a range of interests and experiences, and not just as someone reading books, writing essays and taking exams. An Arts graduate should be versatile, imaginative, critical, flexible, incisive, confident and articulate, and so ready for any challenge or task — if only you can recognise these abilities in yourself. This is where Personal Development Planning (PDP) comes in. With an ever-increasing number of well-qualified graduates entering the labour market each year, it is crucial to your success after completing your studies that you know exactly what skills you have to offer — academic, work-related and personal — when you start applying for jobs, and that you can provide solid evidence of those skills. Your studies will have helped you develop crucial transferable skills and personal atributes, and so will many of your extra-curricular activities; you just have to be able to articulate these to prospective employers. PDP helps you to keep track of what you’ve learned, how you learned it, and what you might do with that learning later on; it can also help you to plan for the future and to identify what skills or attributes you may need to develop in order to achieve your goals. Getting involved with PDP should help you to:
•Consider what you really want to do
•Make the right academic, personal and professional decisions •Set personal goals and targets
•Identify programmes and extra-curricular opportunities and training to help you develop your skills •Plan ahead to achieve your goals
•Evaluate your own progress
•Record different kinds of achievement
Personal Development Planning is one part of your university ‘progress file’. This is not an actual document but a combination of any personal development planning activities that you engage in and record, as well as the formal academic transcript of your marks that your university provides you with at the end of your studies. It offers a detailed, rounded account of everything that you have achieved at university.
In recent years, universities have become more aware that their students need to be highly employable, and that means not just graduating with a good degree but being able to demonstrate a whole range of skills and abilities that will help you to gain and maintain the employment you want. Getting used to setting targets for yourself and evaluating your progress now will stand you in good stead for success in your future working life, and one of the key aims of an Arts education at Bristol is to help you realise that learning is a truly life-long activity, not something that stops when you leave university. We want, therefore, to encourage you to reflect regularly on your performance; we aim to provide useful guidance on how to go about this, for example through this guide, and to provide regular opportunities for reflection and discussion, above all through the personal tutor system. Ultimately, you have to take responsibility for your own personal development, but we’ll do our best to help and support this process. Do I need Personal Development Planning?