What role can PDP play in identity development and confidence building in non-traditional students?
Keywords:widening participation, community, peer support, identity, confidence, reflection
AbstractThe purpose of this paper is to explore the development of a positive learning identity in students, within the context of communities of practice. It considers the role of Personal Development Planning (PDP) in building confidence in inexperienced learners through its use as a tool for transition, engagement and achievement, and its emphasis on learning communities and peer support. It is illustrated by a case study of FdA Early Years Care and Education students, who have been using the Professional Development Unit (PDU), an online accredited unit developed by the CETL Foundation Direct as a version of PDP for work-based learners. The paper concludes that three aspects of the PDU act together as a forum for the exchange and development of ideas, and in doing so support the growth of learning communities that work to affirm the individual. Guided and structured reflection, beginning with a Benchmark Statement and ending with a 360-degree review, is used as a means for aspiration building, and for marking the distance travelled. Social mechanisms are put in place via the discussion boards of the university VLE for confidence building through identification with a valued group and the use of peers as a learning resource. Finally, the fluid boundaries between the workplace and the university, represented as three overlapping circles of self, theory and practice, allow for integrated learning and the introduction of the familiar into the unfamiliar. The PDU is therefore demonstrated here to be a safe area of the curriculum that supports the development and confidence of the new uncertain learner.
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