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Getting started with Personal and Academic Development using some material from NUPAD web pages

What is this?

MyPAD e-portfolio facility on NILE is part of NUPAD, The University of Northampton's Personal Development Planning provision. The NUPAD web pages provide guidance and advice, along with templates to help build up your own records.  To help you get the most from the guidance material in NUPAD, try working through the following as a taster, saving your completed tasks in a site on your MyPAD e-portfolio. This should help you get the idea of dipping into different sections, or you can work through the whole thing, missing out anything not relevant to you.

How can it help me?

Before you start, have a look at the Site Map and List of Documents to give an idea of what is included. As you build your folders and begin to collect more evidence of your academic development and employability skills, remember there are plenty of materials there to prompt your thoughts and ideas and to help you:

Where do I begin?

  1. START by reading the Introduction page and then click on Review & Reflection (the third section) and read the page on Identifying Skills from Experience.
  2. CHOOSE the Work Experience option from the left-hand menu, read the notes on the page and try identifying skills developed from your work-based experience so far:
  3. COMPLETE one of the Reflective exercises listed (alongside the picture) based on a recent paid or voluntary job and/or summarise skills and qualities gained from all your Work Experience. Save in your MyPAD records.

If you are now well settled in your study programme you could COMPLETE a Reflective Summary for your academic work - find this by choosing the page Academic Skills from the left-hand menu. Save in MyPAD - you could use this as a starting point for a tutorial discussion.

This process repeated for different experiences will help you present them more clearly in an application or interview!

How does all this material fit together?

Following the Introduction, the Tutorial Support section gives a example outline of discussion topics for personal tutorials, plus some ways of keeping track of progress, but your programme may organise things differently, so do not worry if this does not match exactly with your experience.

The three sections on Review & Reflection, Key Skills, and Action-Planning all interlink. You can work through them step by step, following the prompts at the bottom of each page, or alternatively dip in and out of these sections on a regular basis, which will help you see how the material fits together.

TIP: Why not try one task each week, or one from each section each month?  Here are two more to get you started:

  1. FOCUS on the skills being developed through your studies and any gaps, by checking your progress in those skills which are really valuable in most situations (‘transferable' skills).
  2. READ the pages in the Key Skills Section to discover what those skills are and what employers think in Employer Perspective. Either COMPLETE  a Key Skills Checklist, or if you are further into your programme look in the List of Documents from the Home Page and CHOOSE a Skills Development Plan (Year 2 or Year 3).

Where are the gaps in your skills portfolio? LOOK at Ways to Improve your Skills (in the List of Documents - Resources); save a copy in MyPAD and mark some activities which could help you improve!

That is an example of using Action Planning to help you improve grades, or increase your employability. SELECT the Action Planning section, read the page and then COMPLETE an Academic Plan, perhaps based on feedback from a tutorial or on your marker sheets. Your action might include using the Centre for Academic Practice (CfAP).

You never know when you will suddenly need an updated CV.  READ the Creating a CV page. CHOOSE CV Skeleton, and try compiling a Personal Skills Profile for the first section, based on your MyPAD records so far. Remember too that there are lots of prompting materials in NUPAD to help you make the most of voluntary activities which can really help to give your CV that edge.

As you build your MyPAD records you will have lots more useful and relevant material to include!