Development Needs Analysis (DNA)

  • A Development Needs Analysis (DNA) is a two-stage process:  It consists first of an Identification of Development Needs (page 2) and then the creation of a personal Development Plan (page 7).  The DNA is an important part of your continuous development as a practitioner researcher
  • The Identification of Development Needs should be carried out using the tables below.  It provides details of a series of skills/development areas (Column 1)
  • You may review your confidence in all of the skill areas from the outset, but you may leave aside those identified as (T) until the Thesis stage
  • To complete Stage 1: Identification of Development Needs you should:
    • indicate your evaluation of your practice in each skill in Column 2, focusing on skills that have been identified as particularly relevant to you at the time.  Choose from the following:

1 = I’m not sure what is meant by this in the context of my professional doctorate

2 = I understand what is meant by this, but I don’t feel secure about actually doing it

3 = I can do this reasonably well, but could perhaps enhance my practice

4 = I can demonstrate this to the level required for a professional doctorate

  • provide examples or evidence to illustrate your evaluation of each skill in Column 3
    • where your rating is low, reflect on what activities you could engage in that would develop your practice, and record these in Column 4
  • This can be presented in a cumulative fashion over the entire period of the professional doctorate, so that you add to this document each time you complete it. There is no expectation that the examples you provide (Column 3) must be updated for every progress report, but the Development Plan (page 7) should be kept up to date
  • The process allows you to review and enhance current skills and helps you plan for future professional competences. It helps you, and your supervisors/tutors, map out future progress ensuring you are equipped for the research environment and the career challenges ahead

Stage 1:  Identification of Development Needs

Thinking and Communication

Skill/Development Area Evaluation of current practice Examples or evidence to support your current evaluation What can you do to develop or maintain your practice?
1, 2, 3, or 4
1 My written English is grammatically correct, and of an appropriate standard to write a doctoral thesis 3 My grammar has been correct on all previous Learning Team assignments and discussion boards, as well as other assignments, but I occasionally make minor errors so it is not perfect. The more articles I read, and the more assignments I write, the better my writing will naturally become.
2 I am able to cite and reference literature in the appropriate way 4 All of my citations to this point have been appropriate and correct If I continue to write correct references and citations, I will be able to maintain my current quality of performance.
3 I understand how to use evidence to support claims made within my academic writing 3 I understand how to support claims with evidence, but sometimes am not always sure what to include or not include when supporting a claim. The more assignments I am given, the more I will be able to practice using evidence to support claims.
4 I can use appropriate techniques in my writing to present coherent and convincing arguments 3 I believe my writing is clear and well-organized using appropriate techniques but it can always get better. I can maintain this quality by continuing to write. The more articles I write, the better my writing will get.
5 I am able to draw on critical reading of literatures to help me think about my own research 2 I can generally draw conclusions, but sometimes struggle with relating concepts to my own research questions and topics. I believe that being exposed to more research literature will help me understand how to connect what I read with what I write.
6 I am able to communicate my research effectively to a variety of practitioner and academic audiences and through various media (T) 2 I can clearly express my research through writing, but can struggle with explaining it verbally through speech. I believe that communicating these concepts verbally will improve with more practice.
7 I understand how to establish and maintain productive working relationships with faculty 3 I am effective at communicating with peers and colleagues, and I am organized in how I work with others. More team-based projects will ensure I maintain this skill.
8 I can learn from and address feedback 3 I generally use feedback to improve my own work, which makes it clearer and more organized. I will continue to solicit feedback on ways I can improve.

Conducting Research

Skill/Development Area Evaluation of current practice Examples or evidence to support your current evaluation What can you do to develop or maintain your practice?
1, 2, 3 or 4
1 I understand how terms such as ‘actionable knowledge’, ‘practice-based research’, ‘action-oriented research’ and/or ‘scholarly practice’ apply to my work 3 I understand these terms, but I still feel I can improve. The more I use these terms, the comfortable I will become with using them reliably.
2 I am able to critique the ideas, organisations, and practices of others in relation to the underlying assumptions and theories on which they rest or the purposes that they promote 3 I believe I come up with good criticisms, but sometimes worry that I may sound too critical, especially when evaluating peer assignments. With more practice at critiquing others, I will hopefully become more effective with constructive criticism.
3 I am able to be critically reflective about my role as a practice-based researcher 3 I am good at assessing my own strengths and weaknesses, but sometimes need others to critique my work in order to find areas where it can improve. I will continue to review feedback I have received to determine my own strengths and weaknesses.
4 I have the information technology skills necessary to support my studies, including my literature review, my research, and my data analysis 3 I am competent with all information technology skills needed to research and analyze data effectively. I will maintain a working knowledge of appropriate information technology requirements.
5 I have a good understanding of a variety of research methods including theories, data collection techniques, data evaluation and methods of analysis, relevant to my research project and subject area 2 I have a good understanding of research methods based on materials studied thus far, but there are numerous methods we have not covered that I am unfamiliar with. I will continue to research methodologies to see how they contribute to the design of a research project.
6 I can confidently design, implement and evaluate an innovative and original practice-based research project relevant to my professional context 2 I believe I am well on my way to designing an original research project, but need further experience to ensure mastery of this area. I will hopefully gain more experience through additional assignments.
7 I am able to set targets and timescales for different stages of a research project, and effectively manage its implementation (T) 3 I have effectively managed my time on the project thus far. I will continue to budget my time effectively based on the needs of any given project.

Ethics and Governance

Skill/Development Area Evaluation of current practice Examples or evidence to support your current evaluation What can you do to develop or maintain your practice?
1, 2, 3 or 4
1 I understand the process and considerations necessary for submitting work for research ethics approval 2 I understand the processes and considerations involved, but sometimes need to review these processes before submitting for approval. More experience in this area will lead to more mastery.
2 I understand issues relating to privacy and confidentiality 3 I have thoroughly reviewed and studied all assignments relating to privacy and confidentiality. I will continue to retain this knowledge to ensure these ethical requirements are adhered to.
3 I understand the particular ethical issues that may arise in conducting practitioner/insider research 3 I have gained an understanding of the ethical requirements of research. I will ensure that all research designs and methodologies adhere to ethical standards.
4 I understand issues relating to academic integrity (e.g. plagiarism) 3 I have reviewed academic integrity requirements and understand them thoroughly. I will continue to abide by these integrity standards.


Skill/Development Area Evaluation of current practice Examples or evidence to support your current evaluation What can you do to develop or maintain your practice?
1, 2, 3 or 4
1 I understand how to engage effectively in collaborative activity within my doctoral programme 2 I believe I am effective at engaging others, but I acknowledge I can be more outspoken. Continuing to work and collaborate with others will improve this area.
2 I am able to establish shared agendas for change and implement action to influence professional practice 2 I am good at working on shared agendas for change, but lack significant experience in this area. More experience in this area will result in more expertise.
4 I understand how to make my research contribute to knowledge and professional practice (T) 3 I have a good grasp of ensuring that research is relevant, but am not always sure how to make sure it contributes to the overall literature. More practice with research projects will enhance my ability to make sure it contributes to the overall literature.
5 I am able to promote a concern for equity/integrity in my research and practice 3 I believe my current research topic is aimed at promoting equity and integrity in education. I will design research projects that are designed to promote equity and integrity.

Employability and Entrepreneurship

Skill/Development Area Evaluation of current practice Examples or evidence to support your current evaluation What can you do to develop or maintain your practice?
1, 2, 3 or 4
1 I understand the need to network across boundaries and to maintain personal and professional relationships 3 I understand personal and professional boundaries. I will continue to abide by my knowledge of boundaries and appropriate relationships.
2 I understand how to develop a profile as a scholarly practitioner 2 I understand the concept and theory, but do not have much direct experience in this area. More experience in this area will help develop my profile.
3 I know how to maintain a set of skills, attitudes and behaviours facilitating innovation, creativity and additional opportunities 3 I instinctively understand these skills, but can still improve. Working with others will help me increase my ability in this area.
4 I have developed further awareness of the career opportunities available to me 2 I have a good understanding, but not a full understanding of career opportunities. Researching the job market will enhance my knowledge.

Stage 2:  Development Plan

Please identify activities that will enable you to address the skills that are now a focus for your development.  You should be clear about the current evaluation you have made of your own practice (1-4), what your objective is in terms of what you would like to be able to do differently or better, and what your target evaluation is (1-4) following your engagement in development activities.  This plan should be updated as appropriate.  Not all skills will be a focus at every stage. 

The plan should identify specific events, networks, opportunities and so on.  If the activity involves engaging with a given resource, for instance, then it is important also to address how you will engage with it (or alongside whom you will engage with it).

Skill/Development Area identified through DNA Current evaluation (1-4) Target evaluation (1-4) Objective (what do you want to be able to do?) Planned development activities (within or outside programme) Timeframe Evidence of achievement Date achieved
Critical reading of literature to help develop my own research 2 4 I would like to enhance my ability to make connections between gaining evidence and applying it to my own research studies. Further review of research articles, along with more experience dedicated to applying this knowledge to my specific areas of research 6 months I can make connections between literature and my research focus. However, I can still improve. 04/06/2019
Communicating my research more effectively 2 4 I believe that I sometimes struggle with verbally describing my research Spending more time verbally discussing my research projects will hopefully result in improvement. Speaking at a conference would also improve this area. 6 months I believe I have improved as far as communicating my research verbally is concerned. I believe that I can still improve 04/06/2019
Establishing shared agendas for change 2 4 I have limited experience on group research projects, so am limited in my knowledge of shared agendas for change. More collaborative and team-based activities will improve this area. 6 months Collaboration with the learning team has enabled me to establish shared agendas for change 04/06/2019
Awareness of career opportunities 2 4 Because I am currently working, I am not overly familiar with what career opportunities may exist. I could improve in this area of knowledge but currently have no pressing need to do so. A closer examination of the job market will hopefully help inform me what career opportunities will exist. 1-2 years I have not yet achieved this objective. However, I have closely examined the job market and I’m increasingly becoming aware of career opportunities. Not yet achieved
Student comments/reflections: I believe that more experience with studying research projects will broaden my understanding of how to apply existing literature to my own research practice; this is the most pressing area where I seek to improve.
Tutor/supervisor/mentor comments/reflections:

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