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Progress Files and reflection… …for postgraduate research students…

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1 Progress Files and reflection… …for postgraduate research students…

2 ….Progress Files Progress files were introduced in October 2005 at Lancaster University. These are electronic portfolios that provide an opportunity for PG research students to reflect on, monitor and record their own development throughout the time of their postgraduate work. PF are provided as an option for students, many of whom have become used to working this way as undergraduates or as PG taught students.

3 What do supervisors have to do? Nothing at all The system is being set up so that students can develop their own Progress File without involving supervisors in any extra work Formal way of recording the activities you already undertake with your research students

4 So why do I need to know about it? Supervisors may be generally interested to know what options are open to students and what the PF is about and supervisors may wish to be aware of questions that students may ask as a result of using the PF

5 What is the PF? Who is it for? What are its functions? What are its contents? Where is it?

6 What is the PF? The PF system for Lancaster is called MyPlace 2 systems –Online community blog tool Available across campus to all staff and students Celt website –Dedicated tool for PGRs MyPGR LUPDP for PGRs

7 Who is it for? At the moment, it is available for all new postgraduate research students (registering from Oct 2005 onwards) For other current students, a paper version will be made available. This is being developed so that it can be downloaded and printed-off for those who wish to use it

8 Functions of the PF Its an online tool for postgraduate research students to help them to reflect on, monitor and to record their own development – a space for reflective thinking It helps students to raise their awareness of transferable and research skills – those skills they need as well as those already well honed It allows students to monitor their own personal and professional progress throughout their research degrees It provides a means to record training, meetings and developmental activities

9 Content: what is in the PF? Development Needs Analysis Auditing skills Skills Development Record Progress and activities Supervisory Meetings Record Online record PDP section Reflection Home Page PGR News and Events, Useful Links

10 Where is MyPlace for PGRs? Access is through the Lancaster University PGR student website It is password protected Access it from anywhere in the world



13 Some more questions: What questions might I be asked? Can I have access? Is it private? Do students know about it?

14 What questions might I be asked? Earlier, we suggested that questions may arise because of student use of MyPlace PGR Questions may arise particularly out of the development needs analysis section

15 Development Needs Analysis This is a formal way for students to review their skills and training needs – something many supervisors & departments already do Students carry out an audit of their skills - grading themselves (1-4) and highlighting areas for development This audit can be used as a basis for discussion with supervisors of activities for the forthcoming year

16 Development Needs Analysis Revisit the DNA each year – to plan activities for the next year and to check progress for the preceding year For students, such annual discussions are tied to the Skills Development Record. In this section, students can record specific examples of each of the skills in the audit – e.g. approaches developed, plans agreed or courses attended

17 Supervisory Meetings Record Formal system of recording meetings Can be initiated by student or Supervisor Content cannot be changed but comments can be added




21 What students can share with you Development Needs Analysis Supervisory Meeting Record Skills Development Record PDP section Can attach files to all

22 Is it private? While supervisors can have access to the site to see what it is like, it is important to note that individual portfolios can only be read by the student concerned. PFs are password-protected and private – they cannot be read by anyone other than the named student

23 Have access to your own MyPlace blog Have access to your own version of MyPGR Can create your own DNA if you wish

24 Do students know about it? An email is sent to all new postgraduate research students, from Oct 2005 onwards There is a guide for students within the PF on how to use it and who to contact with queries Workshops on using the PF are run for students

25 Some FAQs…

26 Assessment of skills How can supervisors match their own assessments with students views of their skills, given that the PF is personal to the student? Students are asked to assess themselves in the DNA, then share it and discuss with their supervisor. Related to the DNA is the Skills Development Record which has the same skills and competencies mentioned in the DNA, but with further explanation and space to record examples of good practice and plans to enhance those skill areas. Therefore, after the initial DNA discussion with their supervisor, relevant examples and ideas can be added into the relevant sections within the Skills Development Record. This section can be updated all the way through the PhD.

27 Do students have to do this? The system we have introduced here at Lancaster is optional, but we strongly encourage our PGR students to fill out their MyPGR as it provides a space for reflective thought on their skills (transferable and research subject specific) and the process of carrying out a research degree. This is also the pilot for the PF for PGRs and it is important that students and supervisors feedback to us on how the system can be improved for future use.

28 Should I make sure my students are using the PF? We want students to use the system, and so you may wish to use MyPGR as the platform for discussions on training and skills development that you already carry out as one of your responsibilities as a supervisor. As stated in the previous slide, its a tool to aid reflective thought on the PhD process and being a PGR student.

29 Where does the idea come from? The idea came from a range of external reports have that looked at the PGR experience and felt that the important process of reflective learning was missing from the PhD (Guidelines for Progress Files, QAA Code of Practice for Postgraduate Researchers). In line with these, a concurrent study carried out by UKGrad on behalf of the 8 Research Councils What Do PhDs Do looked at destinations of graduates and found that PGRs were unable to effectively sell themselves and their skills and were neither entering the relevant sectors of the job market nor maximising their potential. Therefore all Institutions are required to provide the opportunity and a tool to help PGRs with reflective thinking and to raise awareness of their skills and potential to enter into all job sectors.

30 What is the basis for the list of skills? The list of skills comes from the Joint Statement of Skills Training Requirements of Research Postgraduates (2001) agreed by all the research councils. You can look at the document on These skills cover seven key areas that postgraduates should have or develop during their research

31 How can students find out what skills training exists? There are three levels of skills training courses: Departmental, Faculty and University-run courses. Departmental: look at the departmental handbook, website and Postgraduate noticeboard. And ask your PG administrator or PG Director. Faculty: look at the Faculty handbook and website or contact your Faculty Research Training Officer. University: training and skills development courses and events can be found through the PGR students website. This includes the Thesis in Progress workshops, the Associated Teacher Programme and demonstrating courses run by CELT; ISS and the Centre for Applied Statistics run courses for students and the News & Events section of MyPlace for PGRs contains information on both University courses as well as national events run by the UKGRAD programme. Training is not only provided through courses, but also through experiences such as workshops, seminars and conferences. Joining professional Societies or related bodies will also open up a range of opportunities.

32 Who can I contact with questions about using MyPlace for PGRs? Dr Louise Innes University Research Training Programme Manager for Postgraduate Researchers Mark Bryson Learning Technology Senior Support Officer

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