University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

An Exploration of the Implementation, Impacts & Experiences of PDP at a Single UK University.

Tymms, M.A. (2014) An Exploration of the Implementation, Impacts & Experiences of PDP at a Single UK University. PhD thesis, University of Worcester.

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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

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the University’s requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

A print copy of this PhD is available on Level 4 at The Hive.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: Personal Development Planning, PDP, universities, students, learning
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Education
Depositing User: Janet Davidson
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2014 14:25
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 17:05

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