Personal Development Planning (PDP) is a simple process of reflecting on your own learning, performance and achievements that helps you to plan your personal, educational and career development A PDP can help you to increase your self-awareness- who you are and what you want, identify the skills and experience that you already have, and those that you need, create a plan to acquire the skills you may need for your academic studies or your chosen career path and keep a record of your achievements that you can draw on when you apply for further study or employment. A Personal Development Plan (PDP) helps ‘you to plan ahead towards your dreams’ it ‘helps you shape your own ambitions, identify the skills and qualities needed to achieve your goals’, it ‘helps you develop skills, qualities and attitudes that help you to find a good job as a graduate. It ‘helps develop skills that will help in your studies, in your career and in life more generally,’ it will, ‘prioritise your time more effectively to allow time for your study’. (Cottrell, s (2003))
It is essential that health and social workers have the confidence to question their own practice, the organisation that they work in, and dominant power structures in society at large (Fook, 1999).
Whilst creating my PDP I found that self-awareness exercises are key tools in familiarising myself with the techniques used to reflect on my use of helping skills. Creating my PDP wasn’t just about me gaining and broadening academic skills but about developing my own personal skills. I found that using the Johari Window was a great tool for me to become more self aware.
Johari’s Window is based on the principle that of all the things about us that exist can be found through positive and honest information. The theory consists of four windowpanes. This visual is monumental in grasping the true message of observation and trust, or does it?
Johari’s first pane, “the arena,” embraces the notion that if I tell you about me and you tell me about you, this shared information is the basis for all our mutual dealings with each other. This comfort zone provides effective communication, by trusting, understanding and confronting issues “the arena” is maximized. The larger the area, the more it dominates negative panes in his window.
The second pane believes that some information will be known to us but not to the people we deal with. This is the pane, better known as the “Mask,” encourages us to engage in game playing, trickery, and the like. The larger this pane, the less chance we have of developing true relationships with others because such relationships are usually based heavily on trust.
Pane three is potentially dangerous because there is information known by others, that we do not know about ourselves called the “Blind-spot.” We risk exposing weakness not known to us and can be exploited by others.
Finally the forth pane, “The Unknown Area,” describes a special place that is secret. It is a source, for the most part, of personal creativity and other resources, which we may never have even suspected. Although one might see this theory as the last threatening, it really is the pane that defines self-awareness you develop in the other three.
By completing the Johari Window exercise I have found that I am in a better position to identify the areas in which I have existing strengths and those areas in which I need to improve. For example, before choosing my optional units, I had to take stock of my strengths (confident in my waitressing job) and weaknesses (struggle with time management), to ascertain where I am now.
I first completed the Open/Free area of Johari’s Window. Here my ability and capacity to accomplish challenges in life became very prominent to me. It helped me realise that if I am able to manage my time correctly I will be more than capable of pursuing a career as a Social Worker. I feel very strongly about succeeding in my HND and achieving the correct grades to achieve a place in university. My passion is travelling and when I turned 19 I moved to Australia where I spent two and a half years working and travelling. I feel that this helped me mature greatly and appreciate my independence. I worked with and met many different people from all over the world and made me more aware of my own values and beliefs. It helped me realise that if I want to achieve a certain career in life that I will have to put the required effort and time into my studies, which in turn has helped me see that my education must come as my main priority.
I find that my weakness is that I take too much on at times, i.e. moving house, working full-time, education, meeting assignment deadlines and gaining driving licence. Fitting all this into my routine can be very stressful and tiring, which leaves me in bad form. I need to balance my study and work life with the hassle of moving and trying to get my new home in order and voluntary work with Davina’s Ark. In order for me to overcome my busy schedule I have been in talks with my manager about reducing my work hours, which will then give, me more time to focus on my education and other priorities.
The second part of Johari’s window I completed was the Hidden Area. By completing this area I realised that I am quite a reserved person and although I enjoy talking to people in general about things going on around me, i.e. the weather, people in the media, exercise regimes, I don’t like to disclose too much about my personal home life, health and financial situation to people I am not very close with. I found that if people press at me for information I feel very uncomfortable and can sometimes take offence, especially if I am uncertain about a certain situation myself. E.g. my partner’s brother died recently and his mother has taken sick since it happened. I find that people are often asking me about the situation and I feel uncomfortable talking about it as I don’t feel it is my place to discuss the situation and when people continue to bring the situation up after I have changed the subject I find this quite offensive.
The third part of Johari’s Window I completed was the Blind Area. I asked my manager at work to complete this section for me. She wrote down that I was hard working, considerate, helpful to others and patient. She also wrote down that I don’t take criticism well. I was surprised by a couple of the things she had wrote down. Sometimes I find that I am not always patient and find myself getting very angry inside when I have to ask the chef for the same thing 3 or 4 times e.g. side orders. But my manager said I handle these situations well and don’t let my anger show on the outside. She also told me that when a new member of staff starts working she asks me to guide them for the reason being I will show them the correct way of doing things and will be patient with them. As for her telling me I not taking criticism well, I could understand where she is coming from, for the reason being when I am at work I try to be a perfectionist and when I am pulled for something that has happened I always have to get my point across on the situation and explain the reasons for why I did something a certain way. I.e. Rearranging tables, changing rotas.
On reflection of completing the Johari Window, I feel I benefited mostly from the Blind Area, as I discovered there were qualities about myself that I never would have seen that I now have in the Unknown Area. By looking over my Hidden Area I have come to realise how much of a reserved person I am and how little I like to discuss about my personal life to others. I found that my weakness is that I take too much on at times and I feel that to overcome this I need to work on my time management and organisational skills.
I feel that the Johari Window has made me more self-aware and has showed me areas in which I am confident in and areas that I need to work on. I feel that now being more self-aware will help me improve on my confidence and self-esteem as I am more aware of the qualities I do have and can use these to my advantage and apply them to all areas of my life, this in turn will help me when setting goals for my future and show me what I areas I need to further work on.
The benefits of developing self-awareness are that it gives you the ability to recognise and understand your mood and emotions and how this can affect others around you. Being self-aware refers to how well you understand yourself and your strengths, weaknesses, beliefs and values in order to deal better with your role.
Learning can be defined as “The acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, practice, or study, or being taught.” You start learning from birth and the learning process continues through formal schooling and even right through to adulthood. There are however many things that can influence an individual’s personal learning process, these can include; different learning styles, time, access to resources, learning environment, motivation and responsibilities.
David Kolb observed that “personal habits and routines, beliefs, cultural customs, values, motivation and career aspirations are all influences of learning because they can affect attitudes to study and its priority over other demands on an individual, such as home life or work ‘. (B. Stretch, M.Whitehouse. BTEC Health and Social Care 1:279)
Honey and Mumford
The first learning style questionnaire I carried out was Honey and Mumford. This learning styles were developed by Peter Honey and Alan Mumford, based upon the work of Kolb, and they identified four distinct learning styles or preferences: Activist, Theorist, Pragmatist and Reflector. These are the learning approaches that individuals naturally prefer and they recommend that in order to maximise one’s own personal learning each learner ought to:
understand their learning style
seek out opportunities to learn using that style
After completing this questionnaire, I was able to come to the conclusion in terms of Honey and Mumford learning styles theory that I would label myself an activist. This means that my strengths include being open-minded, happy to be exposed to new situations and unlikely to resist change. These characteristics would influence my learning process positively. I would be able to easily adapt to new situations and be constantly willing to experiment and try new things. However, there are also weakness that come along with being an activist, including the inability to think of a plan of action and to rush into immediate obvious action, also being impatient and not being able to go through an implementation process without getting easily bored. This would affect me negatively in my Health and Social Care future career as it is important to make good decisions based on evidence and back up from a reliable source before carrying out any type of action. However, I have found that creating a PDP has helped me with creating a realistic plan of action and has helped me to think things through and not rush into obvious action.
Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence
The next Learning Style questionnaire I carried out was Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences Assessment. Gardner’s theory consists of finding out what intelligence you have, and to be taught in the way that interests you. The different learning styles are visual ( good with art and design), linguistic (good with words), logical (good with numbers and maths), bodily ( Good at action, movement and communicating with others), intrapersonal (good at self reflection), and naturalistic (good at appreciating the world and nature). Gardner’s theories are using for teaching anything while Kolb’s learning cycle (see Kolb’s learning cycle in appendix) is useful for learning through reflection only.
From completing this questionnaire I found that my score suggests that I am of ‘Intrapersonal Intelligence. I feel that this describes me well as I do have a good understanding of myself and work well under pressure but I realise that if I take too much on and become tired I will lack interest in what I am doing. I realise that I mustn’t become too stressed and keep myself organised.
VAK Learning Styles Model
A common and widely-used model of learning style is Fleming’s (2001) Visual Auditory Kinesthetic (VAK) model. According to this model, most people possess a dominant or preferred learning style; however some people have a mixed and evenly balanced blend of the three styles: 1. Visual learners – seeing and reading.
2. Auditory learners – listening and speaking
3. Kinaesthetic learners – touching and doing
On completing the VAK Learning Style Assessment it showed me that I am a Kinaesthetic Learner. I found this to be a fair result as I know myself I learn best by carrying the job out first hand by touching, feeling etc. I have a tendency to jump into things without thinking them through and in reflection I should probably take more time considering the outcome of a situation before completing it. I like to learn as I go and always learn from my mistakes. I like to get things done as fast as I can. I am a very hands on person and I think this is why I strive in my waitressing job as it is all practical work.
There are two main theories that are used when explaining the way an individual learns. These two theories are Honey and Mumford learning styles theory (1985) and Kolb’s experimental learning cycle (1984). Honey and Mumford theory states that all individuals have a specific learning style adapted to their nature, they state everyone is an activist, reflector, theorist or a pragmatist. An activist can de defined as an individual who enjoys getting involved, likes new ideas and likes to dominate. There are both preferred and less favourable learning situations for this type of learner, less favourable learning situations for this type of learner, less favourable situations such as working to the rules would be a factor that would impact negatively on this type of individual’s learning style. It is a factor that could affect how well an individual is able to concentrate in that type of learning environment.
Reflectors are known to have characteristics such as preferring to observe from the edge of the group and letting others contribute before they do, they are known to be more observers than participators. A factor that could affect their type of learning would have to take the lead of other people or a group or feeling rushed or pressured by deadlines. These types of situations are unnerving for reflectors and are more difficult for them to learn efficiently in those types of surroundings which in turn would affect their learning process. Theorists are known for thinking very logically; being exact and precise and everything they do must be in an exact order.
Problems that would occur for them include working with a lack of structure or purpose; this would be difficult and cause interruptions in their learning because of their inability to learn without proper order and purpose. The last learning style in Honey and Mumford’s theory are the pragmatists, these are the individuals that enjoy experimenting new ideas and techniques and advance with the feedback and help from others. Their weakness would be work that is all theory based, and doesn’t include practical work where the theory is put into place. Pragmatists learn effectively by putting what they have learnt into practice.
The other theory that is used to explain how individuals learn is Kolbs experimental learning cycle. This theory suggests that there are four stages of learning. All individuals are different and may enter the cycle at a different stage, and though there is no correct stage to begin at, for the best possible outcome the cycle should go as follows; beginning with concrete experience followed by reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, which is lastly followed by active experimentation before the cycle begins once again. (See Kolbs’ diagram in appendix.)
The first stage of Kolbs’ cycle is a concrete experience, this is where you have an experience of something, the doing phase where you carry out the actions required on a certain task. This is followed by a reflective observation stage where you review the task you have just carried out, including what you did and how you think it went. The next stage abstract concept visualisation this can be further explained as sense making, it is the stage where you conclude the task you have just gone through. This means, using all the information you have now obtained and acquired, you make sense of the experiment by putting it into some form of order as to make it easily understandable.
The Last stage is known as active experimentation, this is the stage where you plan out and coordinate what you will do next time you do the same experiment as a means of getting better and/or more accurate results. Once this stage is completed you begin the cycle again from stage one, carrying out the action. This type of theory can affect the learning process of some, because not all individuals will enter the cycle at the same preferred stage (concrete experience) and will therefore have a different learning cycle and technique which could affect the outcome in many ways. (C. Aldworth.)
Time is another factor that has a big affect and influence on learning processes of individuals. There are some individuals that do not have enough or as much free time that is needed to commit to educational studies, as others. This can affect how well they do in terms of their learning and how much they can progress with the time they do have available. Commitment is required to be able to fully and efficiently complete all tasks, and if an individual has other commitments and priorities they may not be able to complete everything they do to the best of their ability. This would negatively affect their learning process. This can also work in vice versa, an individual that has committed to their studies and education, by spending an appropriate amount of time on work on a daily basis, and categorizing their priorities and time wisely. Another issue that would influence learning processes is access to resources.
There are sometimes problems that are faced when in the process of learning that would affect you negatively, these include not being able to have access to the resources you need to complete your work to the best of your ability. Causes for this can include financial difficulties, at many times people are simply unable to afford different types and sources of information, such as textbooks, books, DVDs etc. However there are reasons such as not having access to places such as public library which can depend on where you come from as there may be areas in the country that do not have complete public services, such as library for the public to use. This would be a negative factor as it would disadvantage an individual from not having all the available resources as everybody else. Financial difficulties could also prevent individual’s access to the unlimited sources that can be found on the internet.
All individuals learning environment can affect how a person approaches their education and how effective their learning is. For example if an individual was to grow up in an area of financial difficulties and a high crime rate, they may grow up to follow suit on what they have seen to be the norm and what they may think is acceptable society may however regard as unacceptable. Negative influences from their environment can then lead an individual to change their priorities, and not keep their education and learning as an important aspect.
Motivation is an important factor that can influence your learning process, it is important to have a good amount of motivation to success and complete your education and learning. Effects that can occur due to lack of motivation in an individual include failing to complete work to their best standard and ability.
All individuals have many responsibilities to handle at one time. It is important to make time for your learning, in order to not let other responsibilities influence your learning. However there are some responsibilities which may prevent an individual from being able to put their learning as a first priority. Somebody who is learning, may be unable to put their studies first because of other issues, for example such as having dependents relying on you financially or emotionally would prioritise your time to them first and your learning second, this would affect your learning as you could fall behind or be unable to complete and keep up with the workload as well as handle your other responsibilities.
The factors mentioned here can relate to many individuals and affect their personal learning progress. These factors have also had an impact on my learning process in many ways both negatively and positively.
After researching the learning theories in more detail, I was able to come to the conclusion in terms of Honey and Mumford learning styles theory that I would label myself an activist. This means that my strengths include being open-minded, happy to be exposed to new situations and unlikely to resist change. These characteristics would influence my learning process positively. I would be able to easily adapt to new situations and be constantly willing to experiment and try new things. However, there are also weakness that come along with being an activist, including the inability to think of a plan of action and to rush into immediate obvious action, also being impatient and not being able to go through an implementation process without getting easily bored. This would affect me negatively in my Health and Social Care future career as it is important to make good decisions based on evidence and back up from a reliable source before carrying out any type of action.
Time is a factor that would affect me personally although I enjoy to keep myself busy, i currently hold a full time waitressing job in which I work 36-40 hours a week. For this reason it is difficult for me to sometimes find enough time to complete all college work on time and to my highest standard possible, and this leads to me cutting down on the hours of sleep i get each night by completing work into the early hours of the morning. This would then have a roll on effect as the next day i would be excessively tired after not receiving the appropriate hours of sleep, which would therefore lower my level of concentration which would in then affect my learning process.
However regardless of having a busy schedule, I consider myself to have good time management skills as i feel being able to balance college and my full time job has allowed me to become more aware of the free time i have and have learnt to dedicate all other free time when i am not at college or at work, to study and keep up with my workload at home, so that i do not fall behind with my assignments. This has helped me develop and refine my time management skills over the past 8 months as well as being able to positively influence my personal development process.
My educational environment includes, the space provided at college that I can use to work in, the SRC library and my home environment. I have found that the college environment and SRC library is best suited for me to study because it is specifically designed to help designed to help students like myself focus and complete my work.
My home environment consists of my 5 other family members, three younger siblings aged between 14 and 22 and my parents. I find it a lot more difficult to study at home as there are many interruptions and a constant loud environment that I personally feel too distracting to concentrate. This prevents me from getting work done in one go.
Since starting my HNC in September and starting my PDP I have found that I have furthered my development and enhanced many skills which in turn will helped my personal learning. This I believe will benefit me and other people such as clients at work, work colleagues, my peers, family, friends and service users of Health and Social Care.
Motivation is something that is very important to me and I feel it is necessary to help people especially service users of health and social care, especially those who have lack of motivation. I believe this would benefit them in helping them decide what it is they want to achieve, and what is required of them in order to get there.
As the eldest child of a family, i find that my siblings rely on me a lot to help them. Both my parents work full time in high demanding jobs, so if i am not working it is my duty to ensure that my younger sister’s dinner is ready for when they come home from school and that they have their homework started early in the evenings. I also try to help my parents in anyway I can with the likes of helping out with bills and other payments so I can ease the amount of issues they might be having themselves.
The many responsibilities I carry on top of my education I think can influence how much time and effort i give to my learning which can in turn influence my learning process.
Since the beginning of my course and looking at my personal development i have found that my referencing skills have developed more and I now have more knowledge on how to correctly reference all the information and sources i use in my assignments to create bibliographies which i found extremely difficult at the start of the year.
Due to my education i have been able to adapt my previous knowledge of computers and technology and enhance and refine this to a higher level, this now reflects in the work I produce in which I try to make use of all the skills in computer technology to produce work that is to the highest standard possible for me. E.g. creating booklets and PowerPoint’s.
I have many future career aspirations and have what i would like to do education wise after completing my Health and Social Care HNC all planned out. I think this helps me in terms of my personal learning development and influences me positively . i know where i would like to be in 5 years time, upon having completed college and university i would hopefully like to be working and providing my services as a social worker. Creating my table of short, medium and long term goals was of great assistance to me for this and helped me visualise my goals more clearly.
Thanks to creating my Personal Development Plan I am able to focus myself and see clearly what it is i need to do to achieve the goals i have set myself. This includes focusing myself and not letting anything come in the way of my learning process and making my education my first priority so that i am able to successfully complete my two years at college and continue my education by attending and completing university.
I have found self reflection a lot easier since creating my PDP and keeping a journal on Moodle which is just for myself to reflect on situations within my personal and professional life. I find that reflections on my actions and relating them to theory can help me understand why i may react in certain ways under certain circumstances and also how I may change for the benefit of myself and people that I interact with, especially when working as a Health and Social Care worker in my future career. My experience so far is that reflection becomes easier over time and that 1 will reflect on my own practice
As a Social Care Student, I believe that I can use my knowledge of the different learning styles in working with service users.