Personal Development Planning (PDP)
My dissertation experience began rather negatively, due to the relatively low mark I obtained during my dissertation proposal. In consequence much hard work was required in order to improve my dissertation and enable it to be far more consistent with my subject marks, rather than a distinguishing flaw in my otherwise positive grades. In order to rectify my dissertation I used a number of techniques and expanded my knowledge and experience in order to fully submerge myself into the dissertation topic.
Firstly I acquired first-hand knowledge of the pictorial exchange communication system I was studying; volunteering in an autistic only classroom where the pictorial exchange communication system was used daily. Continuing in this environment for numerous months gave me the experience of working with those using the system as well as engaging in discussion with teachers and classroom assistants, listening to their opinions and experiences of using the pictorial exchange communication system. Due to this my understanding of the pictorial exchange communication system increased dramatically and I became far more confident in my ability to write about said system. This positive boost was undeniably necessary after my negative dissertation proposal, which in turn initially had a negative effect on my moral for the project.
In addition, I continuously reviewed the notes and analysis given to me after my dissertation proposal and during my one on one session’s with my constellation tutor. In doing so I was able to have clear goals as well as the ability to reflect on my work and make the necessary changes. Specifically, in reflection of my proposal there was very little evidence in the form of case studies and general studies of which I now believe are necessary in order to give my research the sufficient support it needs. These studies were found through three different libraries, websites and online article and texts. In doing so an array of perspectives and approaches were accessible, giving my research fundamental backing which it inevitably needed.
Addressing my dissertation also required a clear outline and approach in order to keep me on track. This was done in the form of four chapters, based on simple headings that enabled me to target all the necessary information, as well as giving myself clear intentions throughout my dissertation in order for me to not phase off course; It has come to my attention that in the last few academic written assessments I have done, I often ramble and my sentences begin to become unreadable.
However, one again the masses of research on what may be considered the least important areas of my dissertation did eventually burden me with in addition of 7,000 words over the necessary word count. This gave the dissertation a negative light, and for the last two months post dissertation hand in, there was a laborious editing process, which in my personal opinion has somewhat damaged my dissertation experience. Due to my problem attaining within the word count, if I was to start this dissertation again I would have choose a far less substantial research area so my I could concentrate on less topics and give an in depth evaluation of the limited few I did selected.
However in consequence to eventually attaining within the word count, my dissertation now with holds only the simplistic and strictly necessary information it requires, rather than over worded unnecessary descriptions. In my personal opinion this has strengthened my subject area and now holds the ability to obtain a reader’s attention. The set out of my dissertation into four chapters, with the first three giving information to carry into the study in chapter four seems to work well as it helps the fluidity of the read and built up into my study and evidence.
One problematic area I also found in my dissertation proposal was the way in which I only showed the positive outcomes of the pictorial exchange communication system, giving a rather bias account. To rectify this error, as mentioned previously, I obtained a spectrum of ideas and studies from different sources which gave my whole dissertation a fair and truthful outcome. By doing so, my dissertation questions were no longer answered in the simplistic yes/no format, instead the various and often apposing ideas and evidence left many of my dissertation questions with inconsistent answers. Initially I saw this as negative factor however I have since recognised that across the board it gave my study a rather more realistic account, which in turn strengthens my work rather than limits it.
As well as the use of the system, I also learnt about the use of references. Studying the systems effect on autism meant I had to look into the background of autism spectrum disorders. There were numerous books on this topic however a number of them were written very early after the recognition of autism as a disorder. This meant that not all the information in the books were still true today. I used this to my advantage to look at the way in which the disorder has changed, specifically the number of case of autism there are; In early studies books described the disorder as rare, contradicting this recent publications highlighting the way in which the number of cases of autism has increase almost like a pandemic. This posed a lot of pressure on the texts and publication I was selecting to read, as early studies may have made my dissertation irrelevant.
In conclusion, this dissertation required a lot of planning and considerable changes to segregate it from my less than adequate dissertation proposal. However I know feel satisfied that my dissertation has seen utmost improvements since my dissertation proposal. On reflection I feel I have addressed my dissertation in the only way I know how; listening to others, learning from publications and gaining personal experience. This has enabled me to give the best work I can, however this does not mean changes would not occur if I was to do this dissertation over, as mentioned previously.