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[2/4] The First Year: Planning My Semester

One of the first ATLAS assignments you encounter when starting here is the Personal Development Plan, otherwise known as the PDP. It is the initial component of a three part cycle consisting of the PDP, midterm evaluations (MTE) half way through the semester and lastly the Self Evaluation Report (SER) AT end the semester.

The PDP contains your plans for achieving the semester goals. This is the start of you taking your program in your hands! This PDP will be evaluated by ATLAS staff members. They will not define what your plans should be, but they will check if your plans will get you to reach the semesters goals. In the PDP you will also define what evidence you will gather, during the semester, in order to show you have achieved all your plans. This evidence can be: feedback from teachers, reflections on projects and peer feedback. Recently the academic profile has taken on a central role in the PDP since last year. That way when laying out all your PDP’s after each semester you can see the development of your profile. Mostly it starts fairly broad, but as you progress through the programme, this section can be used to describe in detail the type of new engineer you will be when graduating.

During the halfway point of the semester, you will reflect on your plans, gathered feedback and activities in the MTE. The MTE is not only there for ATLAS staff to check if you are going in the right direction, but for you to reflect on your plans, from your PDP, see if they are still relevant and check your progress. It helps determine if you are on track to complete the semester if you continue as you are. Additionally, at this point elective choices may have changed, you might want to alter other aspects such as how you go about your courses or the type of evidence you collect. By having this mandatory midterm evaluation it encourages this reflection moment at a point in time when changes can still be made successfully.

This is a great opportunity to take a step back from your semester and consider how the decisions you made and the lessons you learnt will affect future semesters. 

At the end of the semester you will reflect on your plans and activities in the SER. Here you will show that you have reached the semester goals. The evidence that you have collected during the semester will be the stepping stone for your reflection and evaluation. The ATLAS staff members will look at your reflection and evaluation to determine if you have reached all of the goals, thereby finishing the semester. Crucial is your justification, concerning why the evidence that you chose is actually demonstrating that you have met the goal. ATLAS specific courses have plenty of feedback, however, courses limited to grades as evidence require additional reflection in order to substantiate how your learning was relevant. You must balance the reflective aspect explaining your personal take on what you completed with the practical side of quoting feedback and grades. Overall though this is a great opportunity to take a step back from your semester and consider how the decisions you made and the lessons you learnt will affect future semesters.

Whilst the PDP, MTE and SER is a cycle in and of itself over the course of one semester, it is an integral part to your ATLAS career by forming a larger cycle. Your SER from your first semester can be linked nicely to the PDP of your second semester. Thereby demonstrating the overall progression of your learning throughout your time in ATLAS. Each PDP and SER will be heavily affected by the function of the semester, ending with your last in which you evaluate the new engineer you have become, how your thesis will contribute to this and reflect on your time in ATLAS.

University College Twente offers a unique bachelor’s programme, Technology, Liberal, Arts and Sciences, to top students. Visit the University College Twente website for more information about the college and Technology, Liberal, Arts and Sciences website for more information about the bachelor program. Or visit us during the open day, a student-for-a-day or an insight-day.

Grace Wachter
Writer, Class of 2021
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