Using a Personal Development Plan for different purposes: Its influence on undertaking learning activities and job performance

S.A.J. Beausaert*, M.S.R. Segers, W.H. Gijselaers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Today, organizations are increasingly implementing assessment tools such as Personal Development Plans. Although the true power of the tool lies in supporting the employee's continuing professional development, organizations implement the tool for various different purposes, professional development purposes on the one hand and promotion/salary raise/selection/accountability purposes on the other (Smith and Tillema 2001). The study presented here aims at a better understanding of how the purpose of the Personal Development Plan (PDP), as perceived by the employee, influences the extent to which s/he undertakes learning activities and consequently leads to improved performance. Data were collected from 286 employees working in a regional Dutch governmental office and 81 experts from an international organization that is specialized in medical technology (N=367). Data were analyzed by conducting hierarchical regression analyses. Results indicate that perceiving the PDP either as a learning and development tool or as a promotion and selection tool, positively predicts the undertaking of learning activities and the employee's performance. Follow-up regression analysis indicated that the most powerful predictor of undertaking learning activities and a high-quality performance is the extent to which employees perceive PDPs as serving learning and development purposes. The results of this study suggest that if an organization wants their employees to learn by undertaking learning activities and in turn perform better, the tool should in the first place be introduced and used as a learning and development tool.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-252
Number of pages22
JournalVocations and Learning
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011


  • Portfolio assessment
  • Personal Development Plan (PDP)
  • Purpose
  • Undertaking learning activities
  • Job performance
  • Organization

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