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Developing and Implementing Institutional Policy on PDP J University of Plymouth A bottom-up approach to PDPs, offering a choice to Departments : an evaluation.

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Presentation on theme: "Developing and Implementing Institutional Policy on PDP J University of Plymouth A bottom-up approach to PDPs, offering a choice to Departments : an evaluation."— Presentation transcript:

1 Developing and Implementing Institutional Policy on PDP J University of Plymouth A bottom-up approach to PDPs, offering a choice to Departments : an evaluation. Dr Dave Croot, University of Plymouth

2 Aims of this session(1) Overall : Facilitate discussion about the pros and cons of a bottom up approach. Initially –describe & review the institutional context at Plymouth, –describe the evolution of PDP in different discipline contexts –describe our involvement in National Projects –describe where we are now (Nov.2001)

3 Aims (2) Review recent changes in the context Evaluate PDP development in the context of the recent cultural developments at Plymouth, and provide a SWOT analysis. Open up to discussion in context of other institutional frameworks.

4 Institutional context 1992 Institution, with diverse range of programmes across 6 Faculties. Split campus (4 main sites, spread over 50 miles from Plymouth to Exmouth) Additionally serves as focus/hub for regional partnership of 22 partner colleges across Cornwall, Devon & Somerset. (Geographical spread is over 200x100 miles!).

5 Growth in student numbers in last 10 years has been substantial, with ever widening participation, and broadening portfolio of programmes. Significant changes have been : growth of Foundation/Access programmes; continuation of national and local recruitment bases, (depending on programme); changes in student expectations; lack of change in staff expectations; increased pressures on staff.

6 Institutional responses to change(1) 1990s witnessed widespread debate on coping with increased numbers,decreasing unit of resource, and need to develop more autonomous/independent learners for needs of employers. The outcome was the University-wide framework called the Student Centred Learning Initiative (SCLI). Pedagogical underpinning was Kolb learning cycle, of reflection, action planning, implementation.

7 Institutional responses to change(2) Concurrent with the development of SCLI came the articulation of the need to develop Key Graduate Attributes and Skills, in addition to discipline-based ones. The KGAS agenda was intimately bound with the SCLI one and implemented to varying degrees across the institution (although policed through skills mapping).

8 Institutional responses to change(3) Increased diversity of educational background, widening participation, and increased numbers led to poorer Stage 1 performance (as measured by traditional methods), and in some cases retention rates were suffering. Issue recognised in 1990s and a Policy document on Transition to HE is now being implemented (2001/2), in a variety of ways, in an attempt provide a more seamless transition.

9 Response to change : review Need for widespread change is often recognised by individuals (in Departments and Educational Development). Communication routes for articulating these messages upwards are poorly developed (except in the case of EDS). Development of policy, driven by bottom- up needs is very slow. Articulation/action based on policy is patchy.

10 Discipline-based PDPs A range of discipline based PDP systems have evolved as consequence of different drivers. Engineering, Health, Education PDPs developed in response to demand from accrediting professional bodies. Geography, Marine Sciences, Geology profiling systems arose from recognition of pedagogical need, rather than external drivers.

11 To an extent, the strength and direction of the drivers determine the outcomes (the nature of the PDP system that evolves, and the extent to which it can respond to change). Lets look at four contrasting schemes which have grown from the bottom up: –Geography and Marine Sciences –Engineering and Education

12 Profiling in Geography Geography programmes are very healthy (large numbers, top TQA grade), Department shifted priority to RAE grade when TQA achieved. Staff priorities = safeguarding research time, and reducing undergraduate contact time. Profiling therefore developed against the flow. Details of Geography Profiling in packs.

13 –Geographical Sciences Geographical Sciences has one of the most fully developed approaches. It is built on a personal tutor scheme and embedded in the curriculum through tutorials and a transferable skills module. It is entirely paper based with a student pack provided.It is built into the tutorial system and supported by the involvement of a large proportion of the geography staff in week by week tutorials with five to eight students. Each student also has his or her own individual 15 minute tutorial each semester. It starts with an Entry Statement stimulated by a Hello Form and covers aspects such as interests, career intentions etc. This is followed by a skills profile then by an action plan in which they have to identify actions on skills; knowledge; personal experience and work experience. In the second semester, tutorials focus on progress with the action plan. There is a similar pattern in the second and third years but with a shifting focus related to levels descriptors.

14 Profiling in Marine Sciences As in geography, there are no external drivers in the form of accrediting or professional bodies. Staff were therefore free to develop a programme suited to their particular needs.

15 –Marine Sciences PDPs are integral to two 10 credit first year BSc. modules Core Skills for Marine Studies. Approximately 30% of the marks are for the PDP elements. The modules run across the two semesters, aiming to: Increase awareness of the need for high quality core skills; enable students to be able to assess their own areas of strengths and weakness; to provide support in the development of skills in studying/personal management and the use of standard IT applications and statistical techniques. Students produce a PDP that records their development and offers a process to support them through their programme of study. The process in semester 1 involves them in; reflection on entry (in which they have to identify the processes that show you can in fact change things); identification of their learning styles; a SWOT; action planning and employment skills. Semester 2 includes skills development mapping; a 3500 word reflective report on each of 16 skills and completing a mapping grid – an example of one of these reports is included. The role of reflection is crucial, the module leader comments: As soon as they are reflecting on what they can do and what they cant do – they are doing it. When they realise they can change themselves - they realise that they have to change themselves …. Delivery is mainly by the module tutor with other staff contributing some sessions. Some of the marking is done by graduate teaching assistants. A surprising finding is that tutors marking students reports and essays actually enjoy it. This surprises them too. It appears that it makes a welcome change from the kind of marking work they normally do and that it provides an insight into students as people and opportunity to help with and observe their progression. These factors are crucial to the job satisfaction of tutors and are elements that the increase of student numbers (240 on this course) has eroded. Tutors find that students put in more effort than they expected. It is most productive with the good and average students.

16 Profiling in Engineering Civil Engineering suffered downturn in applications in 1990s, and retention rates were also becoming a problem (nationally). Industry requires a CPD log throughout undergraduate programme, but undergraduates have traditionally been reluctant to engage. Profiling seemed to offer possibility of addressing both agendas.

17 –Civil Engineering It has now been running for three years. Initially it was introduced as a part of a response to high failure rates and the drain on staff spent doing extra tutoring and chasing weaker students. In the first year of delivery was paper based and was hated by the students – there was 'too much paper', and students couldnt see the point as no marks were awarded for completion. They also disliked the SWOT exercise - particularly having to identify their weaknesses! In the second year the process was still not linked to assessment but was organised through ELEN, the computer based software platform. This is proving more popular especially where feedback is generated from the software. It appears easier for students to accept advice from a computer than from a tutor! The next steps are to extend computer feedback to incorporate action plans and targets. The current situation is that it is now fully computer based and a recognised part of a module for which marks are allocated. The relevance and value of the process is reinforced by the industry, which has a requirement of a CPD log. Staff keep copies of the public parts of the students PDP to help them write references. However students still regard it as a chore and the module leader feels it needs to be more fun. He also notes: It has been observed in this school that students are more focused on their past than on their personal professional development and are more likely to accept a reflective PDP. It is hoped to use this as a basis for future action planning. Interestingly the word from previous graduates is that it helps them get jobs and to steal a march over other applicants. They put a value of an extra £2,000 on the annual salary as attributable to this factor. The fact that they have had to articulate their strengths, work on their weaknesses, reflect on and action plan their development has given them both insight into what they offer an employer and the language with which to articulate it. This informal feedback from peers is having a much more motivating affect than tutors can generate. A copy of the introductory PowerPoint presentation given to initiate new students to the process is provided.

18 Profiling in Education BEd. Primary students keep their Profile as part of their Education Studies work, which also incorporates KGAS. It contains summaries of their progress; needs; action plans plus feedback from tutors and mentor, and constitutes part of a portfolio they are required to produce at the end of Year Three. They are given examples of SEEC Level 3 descriptors as guidance for approach and coverage. Their write up is presented professionally as a part of their Information and Communication Technology work and can be taken along to job interviews. They can incorporate existing skills – although they have to find a way to prove it and reflect on it – as well as new skills. In the best cases, students profiling work has led to changes in the Institution. There are no marks allocated to it, they take responsibility for it and do it as they recognise the benefits and that it is in the interests of their own development. They take responsibility for producing and maintaining a portfolio to show evidence and a statement against each of the KGAS outcomes. It is dealt with practically and forms the basis of their work on communications; work based learning; IT and group work. They are provided with a good quality folder to collect this work in and they are supported by occasional personal tutoring in Profiling Conferences with Professional Tutor and with Supervising Tutors.

19 Attributes of existing bottom-up schemes Entry level/hello/existing skills, interests/aspirations Introductory session &/or pack to support students SWOT of existing skills plus reflection Development in skills of reflection Links to skills requirements of the programme Goal identification/Action Planning Workshops &/or taught skills & or online learning skills and support Careers workshops Learning logs or diaries Progress update and reflection on action plan Feedback Skills mapping CV building/Personal statement development Consolidation/reflection from over the year or module Critical evaluation of development

20 Institutional projects In addition to local (discipline-based) developments, the two key institutional agendas of SCIL and KGAS spawned some wider projects: SCLI funded project on the transcript element. JEWELS work experience module which is available across the institution. Apart from these two projects there has, as yet, been no University wide action on PDPs.

21 External involvement Plymouth is committed to several national projects which inform the development of profiling. FDTL funded project led by Brookes & TVU on the implementation of IT-based profiling. CRA UCAS Advancement web-based information and tracking system. Working party on web-based information transfer from UCAS to HEIs.

22 Evaluation I hope that I have described the development of profiling at local and institutional levels and given some indication of the current state of play. I would now like to involve you in evaluating the situation at Plymouth, particularly in the light of your own institutions, and you own role. Additional info needed? SWOT analysis, in groups of 2-3.

23 Evaluation of individual institutional contexts (1) Audit. What exists in your place now? How do you find out? Who are the key players? What are student expectations at your institution? How many have a RoA? Do they expect to carry this through in HE? What are staff perceptions of PDPs? Do these perceptions provide barriers to further embedding? Is organic growth a useful/helpful model in your context?

24 Evaluation (2) Would your approach be to : embed in existing curriculum Replace existing things that dont work too well Add another layer. What drives the response to these alternatives? Individual disciplines will have different responses. How do you handle these?

25 Points from group1 Issues of variation in subject cultures overlain by individuals RoAs some institutions are of an age when RoAs were not around Received wisdom that those with an RoA have had a negative experience. New Progress File pre-HE should address this, (coupled with pre-HE staff development). Scotland experience is still very mixed experience.

26 Points from group 2 Diverse background Organic growth must be accompanied by institutional policy. Imposition breeds resistance! Programme specs: transparency is needed. Rarely tested against student experience. Weakness: Organisations take modules as king. Cultural shift needed to go back to programme level : holistic approach.

27 Points from group 3 Need for bottom up, but needs encouragement /support infastructure. Needs to be coupled with a framework to ensure equitable treatment. Do we assess process or outcome? Must be contextualised.

28 Points from group 4 Endorse others. Staff must buy into process. Subject cultures. What is purpose of profiling? To provide reflective practioners? Record low level skills?

29 Points from group 5 Going on already in many subjects Institutional audit needed. Assignment criteria needed. External driver to improvement of learning experience. Senior management must be engaged really! Must not be seen to be extra work for staff. A means to an end not an end in itself.

30 Points from group 6 Persuading staff and students to engage in PDPs Trialling shows that whilst process is important focus initially, as son as people realises that an outcome is achieved, then the outcome becomes the focus instead of the process. How do handbooks articulate messages is personal may equate to problems. Personal development? What is HE experience about? What do staff expect of students?

31 Points from group 7 Motivations for involvement in PDP process. Stage one students are more focussed on successfully navigating the first year. When do you bring in employability as a motivational force to engage in PDPs.

32 My Evaluation Discipline based profiling is embedded in disciplines as response to a range of drivers. The discipline base itself is a strength, BUT experience shows that it is difficult to disseminate practice to other institutions, even in same discipline. Discipline-based PDPs have been developed as far as they can be, even with the buddy system which encourages other cognate disciplines to adopt. Staff development sessions on profiling have been successful, but only attract those already committed to the concept.

33 My evaluation (2) Early adopters have already done so. (? 20%) Others will a) wait to be convinced, and /or b) wait until an off-the shelf IT based system is available for adoption. Bottom up pressure for institutional roll out/adoption has limited effect unless communication systems are well developed, and political climate is favourable. Lack of top-down drive limits adoption and dissemination. National agendas and bodies like CRA, FDTL, JISC/JCIEL can be pivotal at institutional level in providing pressure from top down.

34 Next steps Convince senior managers that profiling is an inevitable, and beneficial development, (on which we will be judged!). Develop strategy and action plan for institution- wide roll out of profiling, comprising two stages : transcript, PDP. Involve partner colleges, and national bodies like CRA, QAA who can provide additional pressure. Make adoption for others VERY easy! Move to providing an off the shelf, comprehensive IT-based system, utilising newly developed IT learning and communication platforms (Outlook & Exchange)

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