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Using personal development plans to encourage reflective practice, and to support employability skills development in Design Factory New Zealand


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Background: Established in 2017, Design Factory New Zealand is a co-creation space where multidisciplinary
groups of students work with industry partners to solve complex problems. Learning outcomes of the
undergraduate Design Factory module not only focus on problem-solving and innovation, but included learning
about effective communication strategies, human-centred approaches, efficacy, self-motivation, and the
application of future-focused employment skills. Personal Development Plans, as an individual assessed
component of the course, are introduced as a tool to encourage meaningful goal setting and active reflection
on, and development of, such employment skills. While students are actively participating in a group project,
they are also actively leveraging the industry project, and the Design Factory environment and experience, as
platforms to achieve their individual goals for self-development. Over two semesters in both 2019 and 2020,
this research project has tracked student performance and feedback on the use of Personal Development Plans
for individual learning and development.
Unique Features: Design Factory New Zealand offers opportunities for learning about multidisciplinary teams,
and the skills required to work in such projects. Moreover, co-creation opportunities which underpin the Design
Factory approach allow students to develop and practice employability skills in a safe and authentic way. This
discussion will outline how students are supported to set, develop, and pursue self-development goals within
this unique project space.
Discussion/Argument: The use of individualised personal development plans, with a focus on goal-setting for
21st century skills, aids students’ ability to reflect on (and intentionally work on) their individual development
whilst participating in a group-based industry-co-created project. Focus on individual goals within the group
project and collaborative environment gives students the opportunity to use the project as a means to
intentionally work on developing employability skills, including interpersonal skills, emotional and social
intelligence, and professional communication.
This session will highlight examples of students’ use and reflection on the Personal Development Plan and will
consider student feedback based on two semesters’ implementation. This includes a brief look at both the value
and challenges of this approach in developing students’ application of future-focused skills.
Implications/Issues: How might an intentional and supported focus on self-development aid students’ overall
learning in work-integrated, group project-based learning experiences?

Item Type: Paper presented at a conference, workshop or other event, and published in the proceedings
Uncontrolled Keywords: personal development plans, reflective practice, employability, DFNZ
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Divisions: Research Facilities > Centre for Transdisciplinary Research of Innovation
Depositing User: Elna Fourie
Date Deposited: 28 Oct 2021 19:28
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2023 09:20

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