Analytic Quality Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2004-16, Analytic Quality Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 3 February, 2016 , © Lee Harvey 2004–16.


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Personal development planning (PDP)

core definition

Personal development planning is a structured and supported process to assist students in arranging their own personal educational and career progression.

explanatory context

Personal development planning is part of the development, in the UK, of progress files.

analytical review

In the UK, the QAA (2004) defined PDP as:

Personal Development Planning is a structured and supported process undertaken by an individual to reflect upon their own learning, performance and/or achievement and to plan for their personal, educational and career development. The primary objective for PDP is to improve the capacity of individuals to understand what and how they are learning, and to review, plan and take responsibility for their own learning, helping students:

·      become more effective, independent and confident self-directed learners;

·      understand how they are learning and relate their learning to a wider context; 

·      improve their general skills for study and career management;

·      articulate personal goals and evaluate progress towards their achievement;

·      and encourage a positive attitude to learning throughout life.

The Higher Education Academy (2012) repeated the first part of the QAA definition without attributing source:

PDP is defined as 'a structured and supported process undertaken by an individual to reflect upon their own learning, performance and/or achievement and to plan for their personal, educational and career development'.
PDP embraces a range of approaches to learning that connect planning (an individual's goals and intentions for learning or achievement), doing (aligning actions to intentions), recording (thoughts, ideas, experiences, in order to understand and evidence the process and results of learning) and reflection (reviewing and evaluating experiences and the results of learning).

Wojtczak (2002) defines a Personal Development Plan (PDP) in the context of medical education as:

A list of educational needs, development goals and actions and processes, compiled by learners and used in systematic management and periodic reviews of learning. It is an integral part of reflective practice and self-directed learning for professionals. It can be equally valuable in teacher-directed medical training for maintaining learner-centered approaches and shared objectives. PDP can be used to manage learning needs systematically, to set development and performance improvement goals, organize learning activities and review outcomes. Some educational organizations accept completed plans for accredited professional development and health managers link them with appraisals.


In the University of Bolton's Careers Service's (undated (c. 2012), p. 6) The Employability Guide states:

Personal development planning is a process that allows you to think about, and then record, your skills, achievements and learning outcomes. By completing it you will identify which areas you need to develop further, helping you to plan for your future and your career.

PDP is arrnaged through the University in different ways. It can be built into course programmes, addressed through personal tutoring and supported by other central services such as the Careers Service.

associated issues

The Guidelines for HE Progress Files, developed by CVCP (now, Universities UK and including Universities Scotland), SCOP, QAA and LTSN, suggest that the PDP element of the policy objectives should be operational across the whole higher education system and for all higher education awards by 2005–06.

related areas

See also

progress files



Higher Education Academy, 2012, PDP - Personal Development Planning, available at, accessed 28 August 2012.

Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), 2004, Publications: Progress files for Higher Education, not available at this address 23 January 2012. However the initial part of the definition is reproduced in the QAA Glossary at, accessed 28 August 2012.

University of Bolton Careers Service, undated, The Employability Guide, Bolton, University of Bolton.

Wojtczak, A., 2002, Glossary of Medical Education Terms,, December, 2000, Revised February 2002, accessed 28 August 2012.

copyright Lee Harvey 2004–16

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