Personal Development Planning

Introduction

According to Higher Education Academy (2011), personal development planning is a structured and supported process undertaken by an individual to reflect upon their own learning performance and achievement and to plan their personal, educational and career development. It is important to conduct a personal planning as it could assist individual to know themselves better, learn effectively and achieve their educational or career tasks step by step.

 

This personal development planning contains theories as well as self-evaluation. Theories focus on learning style and leadership. In order to find to improve myself, two tests were completed based on theories. That is to say, online VARK questionnaire was done as well as leadership style online test was finished in order to see how I should improve. Besides this, a brief personal resume is introduced at the beginning of the plan so that readers can obtain a better understanding of my situation on both academic and career context. Furthermore, a SMART action plan is conducted to present my objectives in three years.

 

Personal resume

I am a postgraduate student currently doing **** in *****. I have never worked before because I focused on my academic development during last several years. Therefore, it is more important for me to carry out the personal development planning in order to realize what I have got and what I need to have in the future to better achieve my academic goal and career goal. Because I have no working experience, I used online test to find out my career value (see Appendix 1) (Career Test 2009). A very obvious career value of mine is to work along rather than working with groups. Therefore, it can be found that I attach a great importance of power and authority. I believe to some extent it is caused by my life value that I desire personal development all the time. This is because individuals can only succeed unless they have relevant skills or sufficient ability to achieve their goals.

 

Since I am doing my master degree, my current career goal is to become a human resource manager in a company. This is because I have already obtained relevant academic knowledge about how to be a manager and what a manager should do. In addition, I have a great interest in becoming a manager because it matches my career values that I pay much attention to power and authority.

 

Learning Styles

Different people have different learning style and it is very important for individuals to understand their learning nature and learning methods. Honey and Mumford (2000) defines learning style as Activist, Reflector, Theorist and Pragmatist. Each learning style has different features. Activists are interested in everything new, which is to say, they would like to learn things they do not know before. Reflectors seem to be more careful that they would like to think before they learn. Theorists pay much attention to theories that they learn greatly based on previous theories. Pragmatists are people who like to apply everything to practice.

 

Later on, Felder and Soloman (2003) identify different learning styles. Similar to Honey and Mumford (2000), Active and Reflective learners are identified by Felder and Soloman that active learners have positive attitude on learning and they like to discuss and do things to see whether it works or not. Also, reflective learners prefer to think quiet first. In addition to these two types, there are sensing, intuitive, visual, verbal, sequential and global learners. Sensing learners are likely more careful that they like learning facts. Intuitive learners are more innovative and they like to discover things. Visual learners like to learn from pictures, films, diagrams and verbal learners would like to learn from words such as written and spoken information. Most people believe that people learn best when information is shown visually such as pictures and diagrams. Futhermore, people can also learn well if the information could be provided verbally. Furthermore, Felder and Soloman (2003) identify that sequential learners learn logically and follow steps while global learners absorb a lot and suddenly get the information.

 

In addition, David Kolb (1985) produced a model and it is called Kolb’s learning cycle. The model introduces two approaches which are to grasped experience and transform experience. Grasping experience refers to concrete experience and abstract conceptualization and transforming experience refers to reflective observation and active experimentation (Kolb, 1985). According to Kolb (1985), all these four approaches must be applied in order to learn effectively. Each approach could be considered as different stages which emphasize different things. For example, concrete experience describes understanding of the objective world while abstract conceptualization stage draws conclusions and generalizations. Active experimentation stage is to exam theories by carrying out tests while reflective stage is to incorporate through learning.  The model is challenged by some psychologists and they do not believe in learning styles as theories have been rarely tested scientifically.

 

Self-test on learning style: VARK Test

In order to find out my learning style, a VARK test was completed online. The VARK is produced by Fleming and Mills (1982) that they suggest four learning styles. Visual learning style shows that people prefer to learn via charts, graphs, symbols and arrows and so on. Aural learning style refers to people who learn best from listening to lectures and tutorials or discussing with others. In addition, there are other style such as reading and writing in all forms. And kinesthetic shows that people learn through reality, using experience and practice.

 

The VARK questionnaire was done online and the result appears that I got the lowest scores on Visual which was only 3. Then Reading/ Writing came after visual which was only 4. Aural and Kinesthetic were quite high that were 5 and 7. Therefore, it could be seen that I have a mild Kinesthetic learning preference. Such learning style indicates that I learn based on senses such as sight, touch, taste, smell, hearing and so on and I prefer to learn with examples and practices. My lecture notes may be poor, but I will remember the real things which happened. As a result, I will need to use plenty of examples to help me study or I will need to talk about the notes with someone who has the same learning style. In addition, pictures and photographs could enable me to learn better and help present an idea.

 

Leadership

The field of leadership is not new that some early studies have already defined leadership and pointed out its importance. Barnard (1968) believes that leadership is not limited in those people who have an executive position. Instead, anyone has their own leadership style and anyone could be a leader in a team. In addition, Thompson (1967) identifies three dimensions of leadership which shows the definition of leadership: a) there is a process of influence which is considered as a key element in the concept of leadership; b), values play important roles in leadership that Greenfield and Ribbins (1993) claim that leadership presents things such as leaders’ personal values and self-awareness; and c) leadership can motivate leaders to work hard due to their individual visions.

 

Self-test: Leadership style

Different people may have different leadership styles and these different leadership styles may result in different performance. Since I have never worked before, it is necessary for me to know my potential leadership style. I adopted online test which required me to complete a questionnaire. The result showed that my leadership style contains both authoritarian and participative leadership.

 

The authoritarian leaders provide clear expectations to group members and they always tell others what, how and when to do the task. My leadership style corresponds to my career value that I attach a great importance on power and authorities. Such leadership style makes me make decisions without input from other team members. Authoritarian leadership is useful when the situation is that there is no enough time and leaders must make decision by themselves. However, such leadership style has limitation that group members may not find their personal value in teams so that they contribute less or inappropriately.

 

Besides authoritarian leadership style, I also obtain participative leadership potentially. Participative leaders allow group members to contribute their ideas when making decisions and solving problems, but the leaders take responsibility to make final decisions. Such leadership style could motivate group members effectively and business performance could be enhanced as ideas are generated from different people.

 

Based on the test result, I realize that I should learn how to empower group members. This is because leaders do not know everything in different fields and it is helpful if everyone in team can share ideas. It is useful if leaders make final decision so that the team could be managed effectively. Therefore, for my personal development, it is essential to consider how to entrust other member and allow them to complete task alone. However, it is still necessary to review other group members’ work thereby select best idea.

 

SMART

A SMART plan is used to set objective and it helps to achieve goals step by step. There are five key elements in the model which are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. I carried out my personal SMART action plan for next 3 years which is shown below:

 

Specific Actions

Measurable

Achievable

Relevant    

Timed

Improve my academic study

 

Increase overall score by 3-5 marks

Listen to lecture prepare for assignments carefully

Derived from assignment feedbacks

By the end of  next semester

Improve my leadership skills

Participate a group work and be a team leader

Play the role of a leader in a group and try to learn how to empower group members

Derived from my online test of leadership style

 

By the end of next semester

Improve my learning skill

Self-evaluate be reviewing lecture notes and self-study notes

Try different learning methods

Derived from my online test of  VARK learning style

By the end of next semester

Complete my MSc degree

 

Degree awarded by university

Pass all assignments and try to obtain a higher degree

Degree plays a great role on my future career and it is one of a key indicators to show my skill

 

By the end of September in 2012

Become a manager in a company

Get a job of the manager position and with the salary higher than £20,000

Outstanding university final degree and excellent ability to lead

 

Derived from my personal career interest

 

Within three years after completing the study in university

 

Conclusion

This personal development planning is conducted based on theories of learning style and leadership. As mentioned earlier that I am a postgraduate who has no working experience. Therefore, it is important for me to understand my learning style as well as potential leadership style. Three test were completed which were career value, VARK learning style as well as leadership style.

 

The tests results show that both of my career value and leadership style appear a high degree on power an authority, which is to say, I am a person who like to control the whole team and make decision alone. As discussed above, such value and leadership style is useful, but it cannot be denied that there are limitations. For example, other group members may be discouraged. The test also shows that I have a kinesthetic learning style that I prefer to learn with examples and practice. Based on these results, a SMART action plan is provided and it identifies several objectives on both of my academic studies and future career as well as how to achieve these objectives.

Reference List:

  1. com (2009) Quiz – What’s Your Leadership Style? Available at:http://psychology.about.com/library/quiz/bl-leadershipquiz.htm

(Assessed on: 17th December 2011)

  1. Barnard, C. I (1968) Functions of the executive. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press
  2. Career Test (2009) Prioritizing Life Values.

Available at: http://www.career-test.biz/values_assessment.htm

(Accessed on 15th December, 2011)

  1. David Kolb (1985), Kolb Learning Cycle Tutorial-Static Version

Available online at:

http://www.ldu.leeds.ac.uk/ldu/sddu_multimedia/kolb/static_version.php

(Accessed on 18th December, 2011)

  1. Felder Richad, M & Soloman Barbara A.(2003) Learning styles and strategies. Available online at: 

http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/ILSdir/styles.htm

(Accessed on 19th December, 2011)

  1. Fleming, N.D. & Mills, C. (1992). Not Another Inventory, Rather a Catalyst for Reflection. To Improve the Academy, 11, 137-155
  2. Greenfield, T. & Ribbins, S. (1993) Greenfield on Educational administration: Towards a humane science, London: Routledge
  3. Honey Peter & Mumford Alan (2000) The learning styles helper guide, Publications: Peter Honey Publications 
  4. Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), 2004, Publications: Progress files for Higher Education

Available online at: http://www.qaa.ac.uk/crntwork/progfileHE/contents.htm

(Accessed on 16th December, 2011)

  1. Thompson, J.D (1967) Organizations in Action. New York: McGraw-Hill

 

 

Appendix 1: Career Values

 

 

原文链接:英国 Personal Development Planning