STUDENT COUNSELLING USING A PERSONAL STUDY PLAN
University of Kuopio (FINLAND)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN09 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Conference name: 1st International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2009
Location: Barcelona ,Spain
As a result of the degree reform carried out in Finland, the universities adopted the personal study plan (PSP) and began to offer PSP counselling for the students. Before the degree reform, study planning was optional for the students, which means that the obligatoriness of the PSP has created new challenges for developing the counselling services and other activities.
In spring 2008, the Learning Centre of the University of Kuopio carried out a survey for the “Five Years – Two Degrees (5Y2D)” project funded by the Ministry of Education. The data was collected from counsellors (n=283) of Finnish universities. The survey sought to chart how the introduction of the PSP has affected study counselling and how it has advanced the goals of the degree reform. The results of the survey are presented in this poster.
Personal Study Plans as Means of Improving the Quality of Counselling
The PSP counselling adopted after the degree reform generally covers the entire study path, although the emphasis lies in the beginning of the studies. The survey indicates that the PSP is seen both as a document (a printed and signed plan) and as a process, which continues and gets updated as the studies proceed. Furthermore, the survey suggests that the PSP has improved the contents and quality of student counselling. The following things were associated with the PSP:
• the counselling services are more visible to the students than before;
• the PSP reaches all new students well;
• the PSP is now clearly linked to the degree;
• the PSP helps the students to see their studies as an entity;
• the PSP promotes individual choices; and
• the PSP serves as a tool for monitoring the progression of the studies.
The respondents felt that the goals of the degree reform – i.e. increasing student mobility, improving the efficiency of the studies, enhancing their international comparability, and creating new expertise for working life needs – and the way the PSP has promoted these goals were difficult to assess.
The PSP counselling given in universities uses various forms of counselling, including individual counselling, group counselling and online counselling. In PSP counselling, individual counselling is especially popular, although the results indicate that all forms of counselling are in use. The available counselling resources are often limited and new forms of counselling, e.g., electronic tools, should therefore be sought to ease the pressure in counselling services. At the moment, the majority of universities use a printable PSP form, which the students fill out with their word processor. The results also indicate that the introduction of the ePSP is being planned in many universities and it will assume a central role as a counselling tool in the future. Study counsellors regarded the ePSP as a significantly useful tool for monitoring, archiving and documenting the students’ studies.
Study counsellors consider PSP counselling as a way of obtaining feedback on how the students see, e.g., the contents and structure of their studies. The utilisation of the feedback received from PSP counselling in the development of teaching and curricula is not in wide use yet; however, the benefits of an open feedback and discussion culture were clearly identified. Furthermore, the PSP practices should be more systematically linked to the universities’ quality assurance systems.
Keywords: psp, psp counselling, degree reform, development.