Personal Development Planning (PDP)

Posted: March 19, 2012 by Alan Hardcastle in FdA 11_13


Personal Development Planning will help you to define and explore your goals and map out ways of turning them into reality. It will enable you to identify the skills you are developing now which will help you to open up opportunities in the future.

Using the templates in this guide you can build up your Personal Development Plan. It will grow according to your input and should help you to manage your own development.

You can either print your documents, or store them to disk. However you decide to manage your files, make sure you keep them safe to use as a reference when you leave.

Whilst studying, it is likely that you will have many opportunities to expand your academic, professional and personal horizons. The level of engagement and what you get out of your period of higher education is your choice. You have responsibility for your own learning.

Taking stock of your position and setting goals in all areas of your life is an important step. In order to maximise your potential it will be helpful if you are clear about how you can transfer the skills and knowledge you have acquired into other situations. You should learn to articulate your unique skills and abilities.

This guide to Personal Development Planning is designed to help you identify where you are and where you want to be.

To use your PDP effectively, you should start by familiarising yourself with its contents. Scan through each section so that you have a clear idea of what is to be achieved. Decide which sections you want to concentrate on first and which will be more appropriate to focus on later in your studies. Take your time and return to update or add to each section as often as you like.

By choosing to work through this guide you are carrying out a number of key functions:

Firstly you are taking stock. Evaluating the skills and abilities you already possess. You’ll hopefully recognise some of your strengths and spot some of your weaknesses.

You will have the space to reflect upon where you want to be. Recognising your personal goals, your objectives and dreams is the first step to achieving them.

You will have the chance to plan ahead. There is space to plan what you want to achieve from your academic, career and personal life; to think about both the knowledge you can develop and the skills you can improve.

Finally, most important of all, you are developing the skill of critical self-reflection. You have the chance to be honest with yourself, to understand a little more about who you are and what you can actually do. Developing these abilities is essential as it will help you both academically and in your search for employment.

Mature students

As a mature student you may already have some experience of skills mapping, reflective practice, learning styles, career planning, CV and interview technique. The decision to return to education may have been step one of your career plan. It is still of benefit to continually reassess your goals and adapt your plans accordingly.

Using this guide will help you to pull together all the experience you have accumulated in one place and set new goals for the future. Taking a fresh look at your skills competencies can only increase your confidence.

Some of the examples provided may not seem relevant to your circumstances. You may have work and family responsibilities and no spare time for extracurricular activities. But in analysing your strengths, think laterally: juggling family life and your studies shows commitment, organisation, time-management and adaptability – all important skills. You can illustrate this with examples from your own activities such as helping at playgroup, listening to reading in school or committee work.

Other examples include being treasurer of a local football club, attending night classes, associations with industry, membership of a professional body and voluntary work.

If you have come back to study to facilitate a change in career, your past work experience may seem irrelevant. Analysing your job roles in terms of key skills will help you to maximise your prior experience and relate it to your chosen field.

International Students

As an international student you have much to benefit from personal development planning. Since you are living and studying in a different country you will probably be more acutely aware of your need to develop your skills and experience than ‘home’ students. This is because you will have to acquire new skills that enable you to operate in a different culture to the one you are used to.

Some of the priority areas for your PDP are likely to include:

  • English language skills
  • Learning about western styles of learning, teaching and assessment
  • Developing social skills to help you ‘settle in’
  • Coping with a different culture

Much of the material in the College PDP has been reproduced from material produced by the University of Plymouth and Bournemouth University for PDP programmes for their students.


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