22 SES 01 D, Academic Work and Professional Development
Those who teach in Higher Education in the UK (and many other European countries) are inevitably faced with the growing internationalisation and diverse landscape of the sector as well as an obligation to provide students with opportunities for personal, professional and academic development. Whilst a great deal has been written about both internationalisation and Personal Development Planning (PDP) – a structured and supported process, which should enable individual students to reflect upon their learning and plan for their future (QAA, 2000) - relatively little is known about international students’ perceptions and experiences of personal development and PDP.
The research reported on in this paper raises key questions about uncritical application of concepts such as PDP as well as other pedagogic practices in increasingly diverse classrooms that are underpinned by the Western philosophical and scholarly tradition. It challenges a narrow perspective of personal development as centred on agency, individuality, self-promotion, independence and personal achievement and gain by inviting a consideration of personal development and learning as socially constructed processes with a wider range of purposes than traditionally articulated by PDP.
This paper will focus specifically on one element of a bigger, doctoral research conducted by the first of the authors, namely the exploration of the differences between students’ personal development and growth in HE, as well as the implications of these approaches for personal development planning (PDP), teaching and student support. Therefore this paper addresses one of the research questions: ‘What are students’ perceptions and understandings of PD & PDP?’, revealing that while many HEIs may accentuate personal development (in the UK specifically in the form of PDP), some students may be more concerned with personal growth. The discussion around this subject will lead to posing questions about the purpose of higher education and the complexities of fostering students’ development and growth within different subject disciplines, contexts and in the light of students’ and staff’s backgrounds, which mediate the intercultural learning environment of many Higher Education Institutions across Europe.
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