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Personal, Academic and CareerDevelopment in Higher EducationIt is now widely recognized that graduates need to develop employability andcareer management skills in order to enter and thrive in a global knowledgeeconomy. Personal, Academic and Career Development in Higher Educationshows how engaging students in personal and career development experiencescan result in powerful insights that translate into enhanced skills and attributesuseful in all areas of life.Personal Development Planning (PDP) is a method of recording achievements,identifying strengths and areas for improvement, reflecting on progress and settingclear goals and action plans. Personal, Academic and Career Development inHigher Education explores PDP in relation to SOAR, a curriculum enhancementmodel used flexibly to integrate personal and career development with goodacademic learning and employability.Packed full of useful practical features, this book enables readers to improvestudents’ abilities to relate their learning and achievements to the requirementsof both tutors and employers, and ultimately transfer and apply those abilities infuture careers of lifelong learning.Personal, Academic and Career Development in Higher Education is essentialreading for anyone involved and/or interested in implementing PDP, career andemployability approaches in higher education and will be of particular interest toacademics, those working in central support services departments, externalexaminers, quality assurance officers and policymakers.Arti Kumar is Associate Director of the Centre of Excellence in Teachingand Learning (CETL) at the University of Bedfordshire, UK, and is a NationalTeaching Fellow.111123456789101112311145678920111123456789301111234567894011112344111 Personal, Academic andCareer Development inHigher EducationSOARing to SuccessArti Kumar111123456789101112311145678920111123456789301111234567894011112344111First published 2007by Routledge2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RNSimultaneously published in the USA and Canadaby Routledge270 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business© 2007 by Arti KumarTypeset in Times New Roman byFlorence Production Ltd, Stoodleigh, DevonPrinted and bound in Great Britain byAntony Rowe Ltd, Chippenham, WiltshireAll rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted orreproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, orother means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopyingand recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system,without permission in writing from the publishers.British Library Cataloguing in Publication DataA catalogue record for this book is available from the British LibraryLibrary of Congress Cataloging in Publication DataKumar, Arti, 1946–Personal, academic and career development: SOARing to success.I. Title.LB1027.5.K78 2008 371.42–dc22ISBN10: 0–415–42359–7 (hbk)2007025392 ISBN10: 0–415–42360–0 (pbk)ISBN10: 0–203–93834–8 (ebk)ISBN13: 978–0–415–42359–5 (hbk)ISBN13: 978–0–415–42360–1 (pbk)ISBN13: 978–0–203–93834–8 (ebk)For Bal, unintentionally instrumental in the formationof my own career identity; and for Sanjeen, Umeshand Manoj: perfect proof of my SOAR principles111123456789101112311145678920111123456789301111234567894011112344111 ContentsList of illustrations ixForeword xiPreface xivAcknowledgements xviAcronyms and terms explained xviiiPART 1A theoretical and applied model: integratingand enabling personal, career and academicdevelopment 11 Introduction 32 Defining key concepts and principles 143 Realizing the potential of SOAR 45PART 2‘Self’ in the SOAR process: building a MAP for thejourney through life 754 Building a ‘Self-MAP’: Who am I? 775 Motivation in the Self-MAP: What do I wantand need? 1066 Ability in the Self-MAP: What am I capable ofachieving? 1327 Personality in the Self-MAP: How do I interact withothers and with my environment? 154111123456789101112311145678920111123456789301111234567894011112344111PART 3Opportunity in the SOAR process 1798 Researching and engaging with ‘Opportunity’ 1819 Understanding the changing world 206PART 4Aspirations in the SOAR process 22310 Aspirations, decisions, plans 225PART 5Results in the SOAR process 24911 Demonstrating results 25112 Evaluating results 273Notes 283Bibliography 286Index 297viii ContentsIllustrationsFigures2.1 Super’s life-span, life-space approach to ‘career’ 152.2 ‘Self’ as hero in the journey of life 302.3 A linear structure for formal programmes or modules 322.4 SOAR as a cyclical, developmental process 332.5 SOAR as an upward spiral of lifelong development 343.1 Learners central to the 3-way interaction in their learning 553.2 Effective teaching methods in ‘The Learning Pyramid’ 623.3 Assessment doing triple duty 664.1 ‘Self-awareness’ and ‘other awareness’ skills in a success cycle 784.2 A personal MAP: Motivation, ability, personality 824.3 Self-perception and self-esteem 904.4 Seeking congruence between different aspects of ‘self’and environment 917.1 ‘Preferences’ and ‘handedness’ 1607.2 Team essentials 1698.1 The wheel of opportunity 1878.2 Interface between the individual, the team and the organization 1899.1 The career ladder 2099.2 The disappearing career ladder 2099.3 ‘Career flexibility’ 20910.1 Career aspirations, decisions and transitions are complex 22710.2 Law’s ‘career decision learning theory’ 22810.3 The zig-zag model of decision making and problem solving 23711.1 Reading between the lines of a job advertisement 25811.2 Assessment centres in context 268Tables2.1 Key concepts and meanings 142.2 ‘High five principles’ of CDL . . . and some questions 181111234567891011123111456789201111234567893011112345678940111123441112.3 A comparison of definitions and intentions: CDL, PDP andemployability 212.4 Skill-sets 253.1 An example of a flexible ‘SOAR module’ 50–13.2 An example of scheduled in-class and homework topics, basedon the SOAR framework as shown in Table 3.1 52–33.3 Traditional learning methods vs PDP and CDL requirements 613.4 Skill levels related to the SOAR process 725.1 Key values in life and work roles 1246.1 Levels of learning and assessment (devised from Bloom’staxonomy) 1397.1 Type and communication 1668.1 Sources and influences of community-interaction 18610.1 Order of type preferences 23610.2 A suggested action plan format 24611.1 Recruitment and selection from employer and job-seekerperspectives 254x IllustrationsForewordWe live in a world where change is exponential and we are helping to preparestudents for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technologies that have not yet beeninvented, in order to solve problems that we don’t know are problems yet. Inshort, we have a responsibility to prepare our students for a lifetime of uncertainty,change, challenge and emergent or self-created opportunity.It may sound dramatic but the reality is that the majority of our students willhave not one but several careers. They will have to change organizations, rolesand identities many times. Many will have to invent their own enterprise in orderto earn an income or create and juggle a portfolio of jobs requiring them to maintainseveral identities simultaneously. Most will be part of organizations that periodically have to transform themselves in order to survive and prosper. Preparing ourstudents for a lifetime of working, learning and living in uncertain and unpredictable worlds that have yet to be revealed is perhaps one of the greatest responsibilities and challenges confronting universities all over the world.Thinking about such things raises different questions to the ones we normallyconsider when we talk about employability, which tend to focus on what peopleknow and understand now, rather than the sorts of capability, attitude, thinkingand creativity that will enable them to prosper in an indeterminate and unknowablefuture. Ron Barnett argues that the essential features of performance in such aworld are:understanding (how do we develop the knowledge to learn?), self-identity(what are the unique set of qualities, abilities, attitudes, behaviours and beliefsthat we bring to our engagements with the world?) and action (what repertoireof actions give us control over our own destiny?).1Barnett and Coat2 criticize higher education for its preoccupation with a knowledgeand skills agenda, while ignoring the fact that what really matters is an individual’swill to get themselves out of bed in the morning to tackle the challenges the daywill bring and have the confidence to do something useful with their knowledgeand skills. ‘Our main consideration has to be what I am calling a “being forcomplexity.” . . . The dispositions of enquiry for surviving, for engaging with will,with enthusiasm, in this extraordinary world we are in.’3111123456789101112311145678920111123456789301111234567894011112344111The introduction of Personal Development Planning (PDP)4 in UK highereducation in the year 2000 represents a system-wide policy-driven attempt – grownfrom a small practice base – to focus more attention on the learner as an individualwith a unique identity and set of qualities, dispositions and motivations that enableher to be and to act in this crazy world. But PDP is no more than a frameworkfor learning through reflection and action. It needs to be given life, purpose andmeaning by students and teachers as they interpret and use the ideas it containsin different learning contexts.It is in the animation and meaning-making of PDP that SOAR has much tooffer. SOAR stands for Self, Opportunity, Aspirations and Results. It is acomprehensive tool to help teachers operationalize and contextualize the idealsof PDP. Different parts of the tool have the potential to promote personal enquiry,the discovery or re-discovery of self and the building of identity through participation and active engagement with opportunities for learning within and outsidethe curriculum (so much useful learning gained from experience outside theformal curriculum is ignored in higher education). The learning processes thatthe tool supports helps learners to develop realistic aspirations and intentions thatcan motivate and help them achieve the results they desire and help growconfidence in their own ability to meet future challenges.In discovering what SOAR is trying to do I was reminded of Stephen Covey’sinspiring vision of ‘self’ consciously interacting with the world:Between stimulus and response there is a space.In the space lies our freedom and power to choose our response.In those choices lie our growth and our happiness.5It seems to me that SOAR can help us become more aware of our decisions,actions and their consequences in responding to the continuous stream ofpossibilities, opportunities, challenges and problems we encounter every day ofour lives.But it is not just an isolated view of self that SOAR encourages. Embedded inthe concept is a social constructivist view of learning in which an individual’sunderstandings are shaped and developed further as a result of interacting withothers in work, study, play and other social situations. This chimes well withgrowing interest in more holistic concepts of the higher education experience asa means of preparing learners for a lifetime of living, working and learning in acomplex world – regardless of the disciplinary contexts in which they learn.PDP was proposed and developed to open up new ways of helping studentsprepare for an increasingly complex and uncertain world. The implementation ofPDP is a ‘wicked problem’. By that I mean the problem or challenge continuallyemerges from all the technical, informational, social and cultural complexity thatcharacterizes teaching and learning. Such problems cannot be solved throughsimple, rational, standard solutions because the problem definition and ourunderstanding of it evolve as we continually gain new insights and new potentialxii Forewordsolutions are implemented. The creation of SOAR is a novel solution to the implementation of PDP based on the author’s insights and experiences gained in facilitating PDP and guiding students in their career decision making.When I helped develop PDP policy in 1999 I believed that it had the potentialto put students as self-regulating independent learners at the heart of the highereducation enterprise. The reality has been that PDP processes often emphasizethe instrumental features of action planning, record keeping and reflection on actionand performance, while other important features of self-regulated learning areoften implicit and happen by default rather than design. All too often littleconsideration is given to the richness of the underlying motivations, values,beliefs, personal creativities and identity that underpin the sense of self-efficacythat drives and energizes what we do, particularly when we encounter the unknown.I am impressed with the possibilities that SOAR provides for recognizing andvaluing the intrinsic motivations of learners rather than the extrinsic motivationof teacher assessment that currently overwhelms students’ experiences andperceptions of learning in higher education.SOAR is intended to inspire and if you are inspired by concepts it will certainlycause you to think about how you would facilitate the use of the ideas in yourown teaching and learning contexts. Arti Kumar is to be commended for creatinga tool that raises the profile of self in an academic world that all too often wantsto treat learning and individuals’ engagements with it as an abstract, emotionless experience, rather than the personally meaningful, emotion-rich experienceit really is.Professor Norman Jackson,Director, Surrey Centre for Excellence inProfessional Training and Education, University of Surrey111123456789101112311145678920111123456789301111234567894011112344111Foreword xiiiPrefaceThis is a book about SOAR – a curriculum enhancement model you can use flexiblyto integrate personal and career development with good academic learning andemployability. SOAR is an acronym for Self, Opportunity, Aspirations and Results:all essential, mutually supportive and dynamically related elements within thismodel, and I use it hereafter as shorthand for a process of personalized, holisticdevelopment. SOAR is not meant to devalue or compete with existing initiatives– rather to provide a complementary rationale and framework within which studentscan construct personal real-life relevance. The acronym itself is simple and positive.The model allows much flexibility at local level in the sequence of deliveryand interpretation of its variable elements. My aim is to enable staff in highereducation (HE) to – in turn – enable students to achieve more of their potential.You can use many suggestions here to advance your own professional developmentwhile you apply the model for students’ needs. You can tailor it to your subjector occupational field, or to the needs of special groups such as mature or international students.Individuals can personalize this process to suit their circumstances and aspirations, through inbuilt requirements for reflection, action, analysis and lateralthinking. The focus on Self enables individuals to discover and build their uniqueidentity positively and proactively, through effective participation in learningOpportunities both within and outside the formal curriculum, and to form realisticpersonal Aspirations based on sound information, achieving more intentionalResults as they move towards and beyond transition points.In the diversity of student populations today we see the whole spectrum ofabilities, attitudes and aspirations. Some may be capable of absorbing skills byosmosis from role models and their environment, but students’ choices andchances of success are subject to many external variables – both assets andconstraints. Enabling all students to realize their potential in line with realisticaspirations is too important to be left to chance or individual choice. Engagingthem in formal experiences, using appropriate methods and resources, can resultin powerful insights that translate into enhanced skills and attributes useful in allareas of life. The central focus here will be on developing students towardsgraduate-level employability and lifelong learning.I have interpreted and broken down SOAR into a series of four thematicdevelopmental stages (around the synergy within and between Self, Opportunity,Aspirations and Results), which iteratively build on each other. Each stage isfacilitated by specific inquiry, information and guidance. The themes providestructure, direction and coverage for the design and delivery of formal interventionsin curricula – equally applicable to programmes of study, modules/units, coursecomponents or assessment tasks. They are underpinned by a principled andproductive set of concepts, and associated with practical learning and assessmentactivities that have worked with my students across different universities andsubject areas.Engaging students with SOAR elements in a coherent and continuous process(as set out in this book) can empower them to take control of, and deal constructively with, the variety of factors that influence their personal, educationaland professional success in ‘an age of supercomplexity’ – a term coined by Barnett(1999) to express the idea that the information age has brought us a surfeit ofdata associated with complexity, but a situation of supercomplexity means thatwe are also faced with multiple frameworks of understanding, of action, and ofself-identity (p. 6). He recognizes that every discipline and institution is currentlychallenged to educate ‘for the formation of human being that is going to be adequate to conditions of supercomplexity’ (p. 154).There is no doubt that we need to prepare students better for transition into aworld where work, life and employment conditions are changing, career conceptshave changed, and students themselves have changed. Our practices in HE mustaccordingly shift their focus. My interpretation of SOAR elements is consistentwith contemporary labour market realities, an emerging new personal and careermanagement culture, and the needs of higher education institutions (HEIs) havingto respond to new demands. In these circumstances, SOAR can lead to lifechanging benefits for students themselves, for the institutions in which they study,the occupations they enter, the employers they work for, and for society at large.Can those of us who work in HE afford not to respond? This book does not justsay ‘why we should’ but ‘how we can’ – but we will start, in Chapter 1, by lookingat some specific drivers for ‘why we should’.111123456789101112311145678920111123456789301111234567894011112344111Preface xvAcknowledgementsThe intellectual concepts and functional examples that have shaped this book comefrom many different sources over several years: my thanks go out to my studentsin three different universities, and my colleagues at the University of Bedfordshireand at the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS), theCentre for Recording Achievement (CRA), the Higher Education Academy (HEA),the British Association for Psychological Type (BAPT) and the Association forPsychological Type international (APTi). There is so much collective wisdom,so generously shared (especially at AGCAS) and this book is written in the samespirit of sharing and building on such material.In particular I would like to thank my colleagues Rob Carman, Mark Atlay andEileen Scott for their support and encouragement. I am immensely grateful toPeter Norrington for proofing and commenting on my drafts and organizing thereferences. In the course of writing I have been helped by guidance from editorialstaff at Routledge, Taylor & Francis – Sarah Burrows, Meg Savin and KatherineDavey; and more recently by staff at Florence Production in Devon, UK.For their specific contributions and permissions I wish to thank all thosementioned below:Angus McDonald, for his guidance on the use of Profiling for Success materials –see for details on obtaining and using these useful onlinetests and questionnaires on Learning Styles and Type Dynamics Indicators.Bill Law, for permission to reproduce his career-related figures and to interprethis theories in my own way.Chris Jackson for allowing me to build exercises around materials with thepermission of AGCAS, the copyright holder. For the latest version of thismaterial, see Gilleard and Dorothy Spry for providing specific quotes via personal emailcommunication with me.Diana Hawkins of OPP, for her advice on referencing OPP materials. OPP Limitedis a company registered in England, with its headquarters at Elsfield Hall, 15–17Elsfield Way, Oxford, Oxon OX2 8EP, UK. Waleczek, for writing an insightful commentary (for inclusion inChapter 6).Jamelyn Johnson of CAPT for her advice and permission to reproduce ‘Thinkingabout mental habits’ (from People Types and Tiger Stripes, 3rd edition, byGordon D. Lawrence); the ‘Type and Communication’ questionnaire (fromTalking in Type by J. M. Kummerow, 2002); and free access to useful onlinematerial at (see Chapter 7), Center forApplications of Psychological Type, Gainesville, Florida, 1993.Joanna Myhill, for the information literacy self-audit questionnaire.Julie Blant, for allowing me to present an outline of her research findings (inChapter 12).Katie Scott of Miles Morgan, Australia, for permission to visit and link to theAustralian Blueprint for Career Development website – see Ernst, Linda Berens and Melissa Smith for permission to reproduce twoexcellent figures related to team work (7.2 and 8.2, in Chapters 7 and 8).Maggie Sumner and Dr Helen Jones for contributing a case example (inChapter 9).Nancy Betz for sharing her research findings on ‘career decision self-efficacy’and her copyright CDSE manual (see Chapter 10).Neil Fleming, for permission to use the VARK Learning Styles materials from alink online, or in paper format, © Copyright Version 7.0 (2006) held by NeilD. Fleming, Christchurch, New Zealand and Charles C. Bonwell, GreenMountain Falls, Colorado (Chapter 6).Norman Jackson for writing a brilliant Foreword for the book.Peter Hawkins for permission to adapt and use his ideas and some of his material(Chapters 2 and 4).Taylor Nelson Sofres, for providing a job advertisement and granting mepermission to reproduce it as an exercise for students (in Chapter 11).Dr Tom Angelo, for allowing me to link to his Teaching Goals Inventory (TGI).The assignment briefs and marker sheets are similar to those I previouslyauthored for a web-based learning resource; they have been reproduced here withpermission from the University of Reading.Figures 2.4 and 2.5 have been published on the HEA website in A. Kumar(2004) A Resources Guide to PDP and the Progress File (permission has beengranted to reproduce these).Finally, and essentially, this book would not have been written without theumpteen dinners cooked by my husband while I was researching, and writing,and . . . in need of sustenance – thanks, Bal!111123456789101112311145678920111123456789301111234567894011112344111Acknowledgements xviiAcronyms and terms explained ABCDAIAGCASAGRBAPTCAPTCDLCDSECMSCPDCRACVDLHEDOTSAustralian Blueprint for Career DevelopmentAppreciative InquiryAssociation of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (UK)Association of Graduate Recruiters (UK)British Association for Psychological TypeCenter for Applications of Psychological Type (USA)career development learningcareer decision self-efficacycareer management skillscontinuing professional developmentCentre for Recording Achievement (UK)Curriculum Vitae (Resumé in the US)Destinations of Leavers from Higher EducationDecision learning, Opportunity-awareness, Transition skills,Self-awarenessEBL/IBL Enquiry/Inquiry-based LearningEIFRBSGDPGWBHEHEAHEIsHESAemotional intelligencefinancial and related business servicesGross Domestic ProductGeneral Well-beinghigher educationHigher Education Academy (UK)higher education institutions (i.e. universities and colleges of HE)Higher Education Statistics AgencyHR/HRM human resources/human resources managementICTsLCRinformation and communications technologiesLife-Career Rainbow (a graphic representing Super’s life-span,life-roles approach to career)Learning Styles Indicatorneuro-linguistic programmingPersonal Development Planning (a UK government agenda for HE)Progress File Implementation GroupLSINLPPDPPFIG PPADQAApersonal, professional and academic developmentQuality Assurance Agency (a government body set up to ensurestandards are maintained according to quality criteria in the HEcurriculum)Qualifications Curriculum AuthorityRecord of Achievement (the national Record of Achievement waslaunched by the UK Government in 1991 to motivate and supportpersonal and career development planning all through life, but ithas been used mainly in the schools sector)Self-Directed Searchsmall and medium-sized enterprises (usually classed as those withfewer than 50, or between 50 and 250 employees respectively)Self, Opportunity, Aspirations, Results (a process model forintegrating personal, career and academic development – and themain formula for this book)Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, ThreatsType Dynamics IndicatorQCARoASDSSMEsSOARSWOTTDITGIUSEMTeaching Goals InventoryUnderstanding (of subject), Skilful practices, Efficacy (beliefs),MetacognitionVisual, Auditory, Read/Write, Kinaesthetic (styles of learning)virtual learning environmentwork-based learningVARKVLEWBL Assessment centres: usually the last stage in an employer’s recruitment process,where candidates are put through a set of activities that are carefully observedand assessed according to pre-defined job-related criteria.Behavioural competency: effective behaviours defined against key job performancecriteria, enabling trained assessors to collect objective information about candidatesthrough various tests and exercises at assessment centres.Criterion referencing: a student’s performance or grade is assessed by comparinghis or her achievement against clearly stated standards or criteria for expectedlearning outcomes. It is not determined by comparison with ‘performance’ ofother students.Formative assessment: identifies a student’s strengths and development needs withthe aim of giving feedback (usually in words rather than grades) to improve them.Ipsative assessment: a measure of an individual’s present performance comparedwith ‘personal best’ performance in the past – generally arrived at through selfassessment.111123456789101112311145678920111123456789301111234567894011112344111Acronyms and terms explained xixMeta-skills: generic over-arching ability – e.g. self-awareness or self-assessmentskills enable students to reflect and identify their level of ability, interest and useof other skill-sets such as communication, IT, problem solving, etc. Meta-skillsare therefore vital in understanding the extent to which skills can transfer betweenone context and another.Summative assessment: generally in the form of final results, marks or gradesgiven at the end of a module, unit or course, allowing the learner to move on tofurther study or training.xx Acronyms and terms explainedA theoretical and appliedmodelIntegrating and enabling personal,career and academic development111123456789101112311145678920111123456789301111234567894011112344111Part I IntroductionWorking in UK HE for the past ten years, I have been part of the many debatesand challenges we are facing as a result of external agendas and internal pressuresto prepare students for life and work in our times. Throughout the 1990s academicand support staff have been drawn into the increasing desire and drive to producemore ‘rounded graduates’ equipped to work in rapidly changing, high-tech workplaces, in a global knowledge economy. Many of us are designing and deliveringinnovative curricula to address these issues and to meet the increasingly diverseneeds of different stakeholders, driven by increased governmental and institutionalpressures. Often we are working with a smaller unit of resource to meet the expectations of large numbers of ‘non-traditional’ students in the context of wideningparticipation policies, globalization and internationalization.In 1996 the Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE, 1996) said,‘Most British people, most educators and most students now believe that it is oneof higher education’s purposes to prepare students well for working life.’ Dearing(1997) made influential recommendations that stressed key skills and workexperience. Further reports followed (e.g. Jackson, 1999; Knight and Yorke,2003a), steering the HE system towards greater responsibility for the employabilityof graduates.My experience is therefore based on responding to a series of UK reportsand initiatives, the most significant of which is the Progress File, which definedrequirements for all HEIs to offer Personal Development Planning (PDP) opportunities for their students. PDP is ‘a structured and supported process undertakenby an individual to reflect upon their own learning, performance and/or achievementand to plan for their personal, educational and career development’ (QAA, 2001b).Although the main general PDP principles were centrally prescribed by government(more fully discussed in Chapter 2), there is much scope for developing universitywide, innovative, local approaches.Such flexibility challenges all of us who work with an increasingly diversestudent population in HE to decide what will be feasible and effective in our situations, and experiment with it. A number of related initiatives (e.g. e-portfolios,career management skills (CMS), employability, work-related or work-based/111123456789101112311145678920111123456789301111234567894011112344111Chapter 1practice-based learning, transferable skills and transcripts, entrepreneurship, professional development) seem to be jostling with PDP for position within HE.These initiatives are often approached as disparate interests and abilities, involving as they do new players or refocused staff roles with different perspectives. Staffon a university-wide basis can contribute to PDP as a ‘structured and supportedprocess’, and academics accustomed to teaching subject disciplines have usuallybeen given responsibility for developing and coordinating initiatives. Engagingstudents in PDP processes is very different to teaching a subject, however. It isalso different from ‘training’, which starts with professional or employer needs. Ifanything, the subject is the ‘self’, and the process may be collectively enabled inreal or virtual environments, but needs to be uniquely realized by each student.In this respect, PDP can form the core of any learning and teaching strategy,because all learning requires an investment of ‘self’, and this investment is bestthought of as being generic or trans-disciplinary. This involves using studentcentred pedagogy, giving feedback, motivating, effective questioning, facilitatingself-help through dynamic interaction – it does not rely on a one-way flow oftelling and instructing. The tutors are there primarily to enable learners to locateand utilize their own resources and strengths.The implementation of PDP is raising many issues: What is the structure? Whoshould support/lead? How should the key terms and concepts be presented tostudents, to reflect contemporary needs? What is the common ground on whichcurriculum approaches can be constructed? What strategies will encourage studentsto engage – to reflect and record their achievements, exploit the resources andsupport available, develop a range of skills and derive the wide benefits intendedby PDP? Can disparate needs be met and integrated within a single coherent,structured model? Do they lend themselves to course design and delivery consistentwith HE academic values? I believe they can and do. This book addresses suchissues.PDP benefits should be operational across the UK HE sector by now, but thereis much anecdotal evidence to indicate varying degrees of success and failure. Anumber of recent developments are still adding impetus to PDP: Burgess (2004)recommends that the Progress File/PDP framework be incorporated into newdegree classification systems that provide a more detailed transcript representingstudent achievement in more meaningful ways for employers and other stakeholders. At the time of writing there is much anecdotal evidence that PDP conceptsare spreading across Europe as well, and transcripts are likely to evolve as theyfeed into the ‘Bologna process’ which is seeking to make academic standards andqualifications more comparable and compatible throughout Europe.The Leitch Report confirms the increasing importance of ‘economically valuableskills’:In the 21st Century, our natural resource is our people – and their potentialis both untapped and vast. Skills will unlock that potential. The prize for ourcountry will be enormous – higher productivity, the creation of wealth and4 Introductionsocial justice. The alternative? Without increased skills, we would condemnourselves to a lingering decline in competitiveness, diminishing economicgrowth and a bleaker future for all. . . . This challenge is formidable. . . . Thereis consensus that we need to be much more ambitious, and a clear messagethat the UK must ‘raise its game’. . . . We must begin a new journey to embeda culture of learning. Employer and individual awareness must increase . . .this will be the best investment we could ever make.(Leitch, 2006: 6,7)These issues are not confined to the UK – a great deal of money, time and efforthas been invested in attempts to transform HE by governments the world over.They want the curriculum to foster in graduates (citizens and workers) the skillsand personal qualities needed to both compete and collaborate in a global knowledgeeconomy. The global marketplace is paralleled by the ‘internationalization of HE’– a phenomenon that has arisen due to the increasing mobility of students andgraduates worldwide. HE curricula must value diversity and create unity.RationaleAlthough this book is grounded in UK experience, the SOAR concepts on whichit is based are widely applicable and relevant. I am aware through collaborationand consultations with educators in the USA, Canada, Australia and WesternEurope that similar conceptual frameworks are used marginally in many culturally‘Western’ countries. However I believe that the potential of the SOAR model toempower all students is not widely utilized within mainstream curricula. My interpretation can stimulate new ways of delivering the model to students, and can bereplicated in developing countries too, as they have similar needs within a globalknowledge economy.The skill-sets and concepts involved in personal, professional and academicdevelopment (PPAD) are not mutually exclusive – there is considerable harmony,synergy and transferability in the relationships and dynamics between them. Thatsynergy can be conceptualized and animated by the SOAR process, but first wemust create a shared understanding of its concepts and clarify what seems to bean increasing complexity and diversity of demands.In essence these requirements boil down to nothing more or less than the needto develop each student as a whole person, to enable individuals to find and leadthe lives they want to live (as long as their aspirations are not illegal, immoral orunhealthy!). This book invites you to engage your students in more holisticdevelopment, through a SOAR model that enables them to value and exploitlearning derived from a wide range of experiences and opportunities, and to viewlearning broadly for the linked purposes of personal growth, intellectual abilityand preparation for future careers of rapid change and lifelong learning.Through a focus on ‘meta-learning’, SOAR can provide solutions for keyissues:111123456789101112311145678920111123456789301111234567894011112344111Introduction 5• enabling students to learn about learning: to assess their own learning in andthrough multiple contexts and identities;• bridging across what seem like disparate and competing agendas;• meeting the needs of different stakeholders (staff, students, employers,government);• clearing conceptual confusion, which often acts as a barrier to productivepartnerships;• delivering holistic and integrated development to all students, leading toaspirations of lifelong learning and (graduate) employment;• integrating initiatives that engage both staff and students in PDP–CPD(continuing professional development) processes;• generating pedagogy and practical learning tools that result in holisticdevelopment applicable in all areas of life.ReadershipI speak to you, the reader, assuming you are in some way involved and/or interestedin implementing PDP, CMS and employability approaches in HE. The book willbe most relevant and useful if you are an academic: lecturer, personal tutor,coordinator or researcher; or if you work in a central, support services department:a careers professional, learning support /education developer, librarian or counsellor; or if you are an external examiner, quality assurance officer or policymaker.External stakeholders (e.g. employers, professional bodies, policymakers) willgain ideas of what is being done and can be done to enhance curriculum development, and how they can contribute.Staff working in other sectors (further education, schools) and in relateddepartments such as work-based learning (WBL), placement offices, volunteerbureaux and job shops should find that the SOAR concepts and applications givetheir work a new coherence and relevance.You should find material of interest in this book regardless of prior knowledgeand experience. No specific ability will be assumed, but for the activities to worka conviction of their relevance and value, and an ability to facilitate (and model)optimistic developmental processes will be required. In sharing my experienceof resolving the many tensions that can occur in this area, I hope you will findyour own ways of integrating these principles into the design and delivery ofinteractive approaches that suit your subject, students and circumstances. As youapply this model you will gain a fuller understanding of content and process, andyour students will bring the model to life with their personal experiences.A parallel process and dual benefit is at work here, as subtext. If you use theSOAR model for students you will be able to apply the same principles to yourown personal and professional development. The new UK National ProfessionalStandards Framework proposed by the 2003 White Paper, The Future of HigherEducation, has been launched by the HE Academy. It calls for the sector todemonstrate defined activities, core knowledge and values in supporting student6 Introductionlearning. The intention is to apply it within CPD requirements for academic staffin HEIs, as is the case in most other industries.When you are seen to be involved in and supportive of CPD processes yourself(for instance as preparation for your career reviews or performance appraisals),students perceive the value of PDP processes (reflecting, recording, improving)in a new light. They see the relevance of forming good habits that will have atangible pay-off in the future as well.In this respect, survey findings reported by Michael Arthur in New Careersresonate with me:Our exploration suggests that affirming the new careers, promoting knowledgeaccumulation, seeking out career communities, getting ahead of the problemsand following the progress of people’s career journeys can all be helpful tothe individuals we seek to serve. So can seeing for ourselves the same careerpossibilities we see for others. Let us have fun, work well, learn new things,and support each other as we go. Let us be part of the new career landscapeas well.(Arthur, 2003: 9)In broad and general terms personal and career development may be thought ofas a fundamental human need. Without doubt you will have applied the principlesdescribed in this book in your own life by default, if not by design; you thereforehave the potential to engage learners in developmental processes, and may alreadyexcel in doing so. There are challenges, however. Many of us may have got ourpresent jobs through random, unplanned experiences and influences, varying inthe extent of their usefulness and relevance. Most of us grew up in a world wheregraduate jobs and their corresponding ‘career ladders’ were not as elusive as theyseem today. We are under pressure now to go beyond the sort of happenstancewe may have experienced, and to provide structured approaches that will progressively empower students to thrive in a rapidly changing, more uncertain world.Relationship between ‘SOAR’ and ‘DOTS’SOAR is my broad, eclectic interpretation of a model which will be familiar tocareers professionals in the UK, where it is popularly referred to as DOTS ornew-DOTS, and typically understood as an acronym for Decision learning,Opportunity-awareness, Transition skills and Self-awareness. In practice the‘DOTS’ are not usually ‘joined up’ in this order, however – a more logical wayof introducing students to the elements within the structure of careers programmesis usually in the following sequence, which assumes that students need to developskills and knowledge in these four areas:1 Self-awareness: ‘. . . awareness of the distinctive characteristics (abilities,skills, values and interests) that define the kind of person one is and thekind of person one wishes to become.’111123456789101112311145678920111123456789301111234567894011112344111Introduction 72 Opportunity-awareness: ‘. . . awareness of the possibilities that exist,the demands they make and the rewards and satisfactions they can offer.’3 Decision learning: ‘. . . increased ability to make realistic choices basedon sound information.’4 Transition skills: ‘. . . increased ability to plan and take action to implement decisions.’(Watts and Hawthorn, 1992)Central to both the SOAR and DOTS models is the reflective-active dynamicbetween Self and Opportunity, the internal world of the self interacting with andreflecting on the external world of opportunity. The latter is a place to conductinquiries, develop skills and experience, generate, clarify and test aspirations andachieve desired results. It is in making these connections that Aspirations (the Aof SOAR) are formed and implemented, and Decisions are made (the D of DOTS).The Results achieved (the R of SOAR) through this process are implemented inparticular at Transition points (the T of DOTS). The main result we are aimingfor in HE is to enable students to develop their potential in a more holistic sense,towards graduation and beyond. In the SOAR model, Results drive personalchange, transfer and transition skills, closing the feedback loop to a higher levelof self-awareness.The DOTS model is underpinned by social science theories that have evolvedover the past century, attempting to explain career choice and identity in relationto changing times and perspectives (Watts et al., 1996). The new-DOTS versionrecognizes that the DOTS cycle is not a one-off process at the point of transitionfrom university; rather DOTS processes are recurrent in our times, when transitionswithin and between jobs are more frequent. There are current attempts to developor generate career theories even further. I adopt a critical approach to theories inthis book (and with students). I use them sometimes to inform practice, and oftento encourage reflection, discussion and critical thinking. They are not to beregarded in a strict scientific sense as ‘received wisdom’.The DOTS model gives rise to both the process and content of many careerdevelopment learning (CDL) programmes. The SOAR variant aims to:1 re-focus DOTS in line with contemporary concepts and needs;2 broaden the CDL framework to integrate personal, professional and academicdevelopment, thereby enhancing employability;3 interpret SOAR elements against a broader range of theories, case studiesand survey findings, focusing on positives (see next section);4 link theoretical concepts with practical examples for you to experiment within class and online;5 show how appropriate pedagogy can develop a range of skills and attributeswithout diluting academic standards.8 IntroductionSOAR and the principles of Appreciative InquiryI like the notions that come from Appreciative Inquiry (AI) for their applicationsin positive self-development. Originally developed by Dr David Cooperrider andSuresh Srivastva (1987) in a paper they published at Case Western ReserveUniversity in the US, AI was applied to organizational change, asking ‘What isworking well – and why? How can we replicate or do more of this, to create moresuccesses in the future?’ These questions are less threatening than a deficit modelthat asks ‘What’s wrong, and who is to blame? How shall we fix the problem?’While the AI approach does not ignore problems, it sees ‘problem solving’ and‘conflict resolution’ as deficit approaches that unduly emphasize negative issues.When people focus on identifying things that are ‘wrong’ and ‘correcting problems’they ultimately slip into a negative culture of fault-finding and criticism. Oneapproach many of us will be familiar with is a SWOT analysis, which attempts toidentify both positive and negatives – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities andThreats. AI reframes this to become a SOAR approach that focuses on the positives– Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations and Results. The differences betweenSWOT and SOAR are mainly those of vocabulary and emphasis, but these differences can add up to much better attitudes and outcomes.When I encountered the action research process and principles of AI it struckme that it was in harmony with the approach I was using. When students use SOARto discover their strengths, they can align optimistically with opportunities thatare suitable, generate aspirations congruent with their identified ‘profile’ andachieve better results. AI works by asking participants about their achievements,what has worked well for them or is working well now, and carrying their bestpractices (known) to travel forward into the future (unknown).As Marcus Buckingham says in his books The One Thing You Need to Know(2005) and Now, Discover Your Strengths (Buckingham and Clifton, 2001),sustained individual success comes from both focus (on strengths) and the abilityto filter the complex information and choices available in today’s world of supercomplexity. Finding, naming and claiming their strengths enables students to bothfocus and filter, to aspire and make appropriate decisions, and achieve effectiveresults at transition points.A word of caution: although I advocate focusing on strengths, we should notignore our development needs. The focus on assets does not gloss over or underestimate the external constraints that often limit or determine our own and students’choices. I experienced this at the end of my degree (many years ago) when I wasadvised by a well-meaning programme leader to apply for high-flying, mega-buckjobs – all of which were impossible to reconcile with responsibility for my threeboys, and restrictions on my ability to travel or move house. I was grateful for herinterest in me and her confidence in my abilities, but there it ended.For students who have disabilities or special needs, there is a wealth ofinformation and guidance available in careers services and learning support units– but students need to have these services explained and signposted so that they111123456789101112311145678920111123456789301111234567894011112344111Introduction 9feel encouraged to access relevant help early on. Through a SOAR process theymay discover both the nature of their need and a means of accessing their innerresources. There are ways of dwelling positively on what is possible and whatstudents can do rather than wallowing in problems and what they cannot do.Assumptions underpinning the SOAR model• Students are unique individuals full of potential.• The world is full of opportunities, but access to these is unevenly distributedand differentially available to individuals.• There is no single predetermined ‘opportunity’ that suits an individual inevery way, and conversely there may be many choices that are suitable andpossible.• How students draw on their potential to seize different opportunities dependsmainly on their motivation, ability and personality.• To interact with the world in an effective way and make informed choices,students need to enhance self-awareness and self-efficacy in relation to external reference points such as tutors’ expectations and employers’ requirements.• Focusing attention on each stage of the SOAR process as an optimisticinquiry and ‘subjective reality’ can make it ‘appreciate in value’. A strongsense of self gives students a way of using holistic potential, a means to filterout unsuitable choices and to focus on those that fit them.• This is a recurrent process, in a changing world. They will need to be flexibleand review strategies as appropriate, but use their unique (and changing) profile to continually act as a guiding ‘map’ in their journey through life.Structure of chaptersIn Chapter 2 I define SOAR principles in relation to key concepts, intentions andimplications related to PDP, CDL, employability and skills agendas. In the UK,staff working in these and other subject and functional areas could (and in someHEIs have) come together to collaborate in implementing PDP. However, conceptual confusion often acts as a barrier to productive partnerships in deliveringthe integrated benefits envisaged by the PDP agenda. This brings with it afundamental need to coordinate, and create a common vocabulary with which todiscuss and implement the main aims. For the purposes of this book, it is alsofundamental to realizing the potential of the SOAR process.The SOAR model has provided a structure for programmes I have designedand delivered successfully with students across many disciplines in differentuniversities. In Chapter 3 I give an outline of a generic, accredited and assessedmodule designed for the penultimate year of degree programmes. I indicate howthis can be tailored to meet the needs of different subjects, give examples ofcongruent teaching, learning and assessment methods, and suggest a way ofscaling it up or down to different levels of study.10 IntroductionThe SOAR elements then lend structure to the rest of this book. The focus on‘Self’ (the S of SOAR) in Part 2 enables individuals to develop a range of skillsand attributes associated with ‘self-awareness’. This is essentially about articulatingone’s strengths within a ‘Self-MAP’ that can be used to navigate stages in thejourney through life (Chapter 4). MAP provides an opportune acronym – it standsfor Motivation, Ability and Personality, the main facets of an individual profile.Chapters 5, 6 and 7 are devoted to each of the MAP elements in turn.The focus on Opportunity (the O of SOAR) in Part 3 takes ‘Self’ into the externalworld, and enhances the skills associated with ‘opportunity-awareness’: exploringand exploiting options, to learn and develop. Students analyse the extent of fitbetween their identified profile and the requirements of various options, occupations, organizations, industry sectors and alternative opportunities that are realistically available to them (Chapter 8). In a broader global sense students need tounderstand the demands of the changing world in which they will be implementingtheir aspirations (Chapter 9).The formation of realistic and achievable Aspirations (the A of SOAR) in Chapter10 puts the spotlight on decision-learning, making choices in learning and in workthat are based on sound information about Self matched with Opportunity. Theprocesses of decision making, problem solving, researching and action planningare shown to be intimately connected and capable of improvement.The SOAR process is punctuated by means-goals or Results (the R of SOAR)and culminates with end-goals at the transition stage for life beyond university.At that point results gained through the SOAR process need to be demonstrated– through self-promotion on applications and self-presentation in person (atinterviews and assessment centres). This stage draws together all the previouselements (Chapter 11).Finally, Chapter 12 is about transfer skills, review and further development.As ‘self’ looks back to look forward and measure results (the ‘distance travelled’or ‘value added’ by SOAR) we tutors also need to seek feedback and evaluate theimpact of our interventions.Style, content and pedagogyThis book draws upon a wide range of concepts and examples to show how curricula can accommodate practical activities with an evidence base. Due to the encompassing nature of the SOAR framework, I adopt a broad-brush approach withreferences to more in-depth reading if you want more information. Each chaptercontains exemplar material, making connections between theory and its applications, suggesting practical activities and reflective exercises that are based onskills audits, survey findings, case studies, readings and Internet material – linkedto constructively aligned outcomes and pedagogy. I encourage you – and students– to take a critical stance to theory, to test it against real-life experience.Facilitating students through a SOAR process of reflective and experientialinquiries provides a way of scaffolding student development (Vygotsky, 1978)111123456789101112311145678920111123456789301111234567894011112344111Introduction 11investing in ‘self as hero in the journey of life’ thereby developing self-efficacy(Bandura, 1997), self-regulation (Zimmerman, 2001) and intentionality (Bereiterand Scardamalia, 1989). These are essentially social and personal constructionistapproaches to learning, where subjective realities and opinions are constructedthrough and within encounters with others in different social contexts (Bergerand Luckman, 1966). The pedagogy lends itself to action research, and has beenused and evaluated with different groups of individuals, in both real and virtuallearning environments (VLEs). The methods may be innovative for some, but arenot extreme or difficult to incorporate. They are offered in the spirit of AI asindicative and flexible inquiries: as you and your students apply them the results‘appreciate in value’ through the SOAR process and ideally achieve balance orcongruence between elements.I use many external reference points to inform individuals’ SOAR reflectiveprocesses – bringing together perspectives from employers, students and tutors.I have found that my careers colleagues have the necessary dual focus to mediatebetween perspectives, especially between students and their futures, between HEexperience and employers’ requirements – and I am grateful to many who haveshared their knowledge and stories generously with me. To illustrate the points Imake I have occasionally used examples from my own life-career pathway. Assuch this book represents the place I currently occupy in my thinking and I hopethis corresponds with the ‘state of the art’. I encourage you also to use your careertrajectory as a reference point, and of course get students to use theirs.As PDP requires students to write about themselves in reflective accounts, I sometimes model a more personal, conversational and informal style of writing here thanmay be usual in academic publications. As a result there are different voices andviewpoints in the book, and a change of voice is signalled by icons that act asnavigational beacons. The voice can change from autobiographical to descriptiveto analytical to pragmatic and to speculative, depending on the material and itspurpose. I hope this variety will generate ideas rather than prove disconcerting.The following icons are used to alert you to exercises directly addressed tostudents, and to signal what that type of exercise might require.12 IntroductionRecord(in (e)-portfolio)Read(print material)Write Watch(video/DVD)Group work Discuss (in pairs orsmall groups)Present verballyComputer(use internet research,VLE or online materials)Investigate Questions (to encouragecritical thinking)ReflectThe book also has a companion website,, where you will find some sample worksheets that you candownload as pdfs and use with students, figures in colour you may wish to projectin order to support, illustrate and develop ideas or exercises, and live links torelevant websites and online resources mentioned in this text.SOAR can bridge the divide in conceptual terms between disciplines, andbetween terms such as academic, vocational, personal and professional – andintegrating between bipolar positions is a key success factor in implementing themodel. The development of skills in all these areas can be those of a higherorder, as you will see throughout this book. We can apply quality standards andpedagogical principles to personal and career development as to any other subject.Chapter 1: Summary of main points• SOAR is a process model for holistic, integrated and personalized learner development.• SOAR is related to a range of concepts – chief of which are the DOTSframework, widely used for careers education, and Appreciative Inquiry.• The model can provide solutions for many issues facing HE today, and has beendeveloped, tried and evaluated over the past few years as a response torequirements in the UK for HEIs to deliver the Progress File/PDP agenda.• This book is for you if you are interested or involved in designing, delivering orformulating policy for HE curricula – anywhere in the world where pedagogyneeds to be enhanced to deliver personal development, career managementskills and employability.You will find in this book:• (re)-definitions of key terms and concepts in the context of our times, witha focus on contemporary working conditions;• an inclusive conceptual framework for personalized development, underpinned by theories that give your work an intellectual evidence base;• practical applications of the model, as it gives rise to both content and processthat can be integrated into course and programme design;• a reconciliation of skills development with pedagogical issues in HE;• a practical resource, with ideas and activities you can adopt or adapt and usewith students;• examples of teaching, learning and assessment methods that engage studentsin developmental processes, enhance employability and self-efficacy;• suggestions for further reading and references to useful, freely accessible webbased materials.111123456789101112311145678920111123456789301111234567894011112344111Introduction 13


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