The five Ps of LD: Using formulation in Learning Development work for a student-centred approach to ‘study skills’


  • Helen Webster Newcastle University, UK


Academic skills, Academic Literacies, Learning Development, Study skills, Formulation


Learning Development is a field of practice concerned with supporting students to develop their study skills, including academic and assessment literacies. It is strongly rooted in values that are student-centred, collaborative and emancipatory rather than remedial or deficit. However, in the wider dominant culture of UK HE institutions, Learning Developers are often placed in an implicitly hierarchical relationship with students, "giving advice and guidance", at odds with these values. Without a clear model for practice to help them enact their values in a student-centred and dialogic way, Learning Developers may risk pathologizing the student, depriving them of agency and expertise, in an overly prescriptive and instrumental approach to skills development. This paper explores formulation, a core skill in Clinical Psychology, and its applicability in Learning Development. Formulation is a method of integrating theory and practice, clinical expertise with the client’s own experience and insight, through its meaning to the client. With a focus on equality, person-centred practice and co-created meaning, it is well aligned to Learning Development values. This paper examines how formulation can be adapted for Learning Development one-to-one work and other forms of provision, and proposes a practical model, the Five Ps of LD, which integrates multiple perspectives with longitudinal, cross-sectional and socio-cultural factors into a holistic shared understanding of the Learning Development need.


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How to Cite

The five Ps of LD: Using formulation in Learning Development work for a student-centred approach to ‘study skills’. (2023). Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, 20(4).