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Using a web-based personal learning system to support undergraduate personal development planning

Date: 18 March 2009 Time: 12.30 - 2.00 p.m.

Venue: IAS MR1

Wednesday 18th March 2009

12.30 - 2.00 p.m. IAS Meeting Room 1. Everyone welcome

Jackie Haigh

PhD Student, Lancaster University, Senior Lecturer, University of Bradford

'Using a web-based personal learning system to support undergraduate personal development planning'

This presentation will discuss the preliminary findings of a study exploring the learning experiences of newly qualified health professionals and the extent to which a familiar online learning system was used to facilitate learning in the transition from student to health practitioner. The preliminary findings concern the participants' descriptions of using the system in the university.

This is a case study of a cohort of student midwives who had experience of using a personal online learning system to support their academic learning at university. Participants were provided with 2 year alumni accounts in this system and consented to three blog and/or email interviews in the first 6 months post graduation. Seventeen students from a cohort of twenty four agreed to participate, nine responded in varying extent to the interview questions.

This seminar will discuss the analysis of the first set of interview questions; which explored the students' experience of using the learning system in the university. Subsequent interviews will explore the early experience of becoming a member of staff and participants reflections on learning in the first six months, including an evaluation of the usefulness of the personal learning system in this transition period.

Responses to the first interviews were analysed using NVIVO whereby free nodes identifying issues or concepts in the data are structured into themes using a tree node structure. These themes are influenced by the researcher's theoretical framework impacting on the way the questions are structured but also can be said to arise from the data as the individual respondents make their own contribution to knowledge creation. The analysis focuses on three themes: Structural Motivation; Personal agency; and Transition Intentions.

This study provides some evidence that an online personal learning system can support and enhance Personal Development Planning (PDP) processes. Participants describe benefits of PDP similar to those outlined by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA 2009). The relative contribution of structural motivation and personal agency in achieving these benefits will be discussed.


QAA (2009). Personal Development Planning:Guidance for institutional policy and practice in Higher Education. Gloucester, The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Educational Research


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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