Bologna Bytes: Higher Education and Personal Development Planning

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Personal development Planning (PDP) has become a central feature of student activity across the higher education sector. This has come about as the result of an awareness that in a globalised education and workplace market students will need to be more competitive in developing and marketing their academic and personal skills and attributes. In Europe much of this is being driven by the Bologna Process and Lisbon Agenda in order to modernize universities and student employability. However, this inner directed process has spawned a discourse of voluntarism that dissolves engagement with wider political, social and economic issues that impact upon programmes of study and associated career opportunities. This paper argues that focus on the PDP, and in particular the use of electronic portfolios and progress files, can lead to an instrumental form of learning that is focused on process rather than genuine intellectual and personal growth. Undergraduate education is now characterised in terms of the development of graduate attributes as marketable personal characteristics related to the knowledge economy. However, the rhetoric of widening participation, choice and the marketisation of higher education is argued to have endangered a discourse of the ‘personal’ that produces an ideological and paradoxical effect of creating and inner-directed focus in the face of a globalised world.


Keywords: Bologna Process, Personal Development Planning, Employability, Graduate Attributes, Instrumental Learning
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy; Student Learning, Learner Experiences, Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Bologna Bytes


Dr. James Moir

Senior Lecturer, Sociology
School of Social & Health Sciences, University of Abertay Dundee

Dundee, UK

Dr James Moir is a senior lecturer in sociology at the University of Abertay Dundee (Scotland, U.K.) with a research interest in the application of discourse analysis: the analysis of spoken, written and visual texts. This has ranged over diverse set of topics including: the construction of occupational identities in conversation, particularly in relation to nursing and healthcare occupations; doctor-patient interaction and shared decision-making; discourses of reading ‘body language’; representations of the ‘mind’ in film and television; talk about ‘responsibility’ in relation to environmental concerns; the representation of ‘opinions’ in political opinion polling; and the construction of ‘child development’ in terms of how children talk and discourse surrounding death. He is currently one of ten Associates supported by the U.K. Higher Education Academy’s Centre for Sociology, Anthroplogy and Politics (C-SAP) and has a specialist interest in personal development planning as a life discourse.

Ref: L09P0741