Personal and Social Development practice at the University of Malta: its presence and positive contribution: a reality or a mirage?
Bezzina, Amanda (2016) Personal and Social Development practice at the University of Malta: its presence and positive contribution: a reality or a mirage? PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.
Personal and Social Development (PSD) is a statutory subject in Maltese schools. Whilst PSD does not exist as a subject in Maltese higher education, PSD practice is present within the academic content as well as the co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. Its’ claimed purpose is to support the students’ personal and social development. This study explores stakeholder perceptions of PSD practice in Malta, the way in which it is included within the University of Malta (UoM) undergraduate experience and its contribution to the holistic development of undergraduates. Findings indicate that a number of factors impact upon the need, and resulting provision of PSD practice in Malta. These include: smallness of the Maltese Islands; their lack of natural resources and Malta’s reliance on human capabilities. While these factors may generate the need for PSD practice in Malta, other factors, like the traditional academic oriented system and the sense of fear for change, tend to hinder its provision. On the other hand, PSD practice in Malta is facilitated through policies which promote it; the compulsory PSD subject in schools and the different opportunities for PSD practice. In general, UoM students from the Science and Social Sciences faculty clusters, those attending the Degree Plus programme and those participating in extra-curricular groups, ranked highly the provision of generic competences training, the emphasis on their active role and the holistic aims. The thesis suggests that PSD practice at the UoM is not consistent across faculties, but whenever there was PSD practice, students appeared to value it and recognise its contribution to their holistic development. Such link is hindered by factors like the traditional pre-tertiary education, the influence of the European Union with the economic agenda and a neo-liberal, globalized and capitalist society that glorifies competition, performativity and market demands. In conclusion, it is recommended that there is genuine movement towards PSD practice for holistic aims.
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