Project Development Case Study

Project Development Case Study: Charlie’s Personal Statement

Charlie applied to Queen’s University Belfast to do a BA in Social Work.  The School of Social Work asked her to submit a Personal Statement, outlining 1) what she understood the course to involve, 2) why she wanted a place on the course, 3) what skills were needed to be a social worker and 4) what in her personal experience had prepared her for work with any one of a list of groups, including Older People, Disabled People and Young People.

Step One

Because Charlie is under 18, her mother came along when Charlie met with a Project Mentor from Reads Well.  Charlie brought the letter she’d received from QUB, which outlined the requirements of the Statement (e.g., what information it should include, how long it should be and when it was due).  Charlie also brought all the brochures, leaflets and other literature she had about the course.  Having reviewed these materials, her Mentor asked Charlie to talk informally about her interest in Social Work and what she knew about the skills it required.  The Mentor took notes on her laptop while Charlie spoke – mostly verbatim transcriptions of Charlie’s own words – and when Charlie ran out of things to say, the Mentor got her going again by asking more questions, or just waiting patiently until Charlie thought of something else.   While she waited, the Mentor reorganised the notes she’d just taken, arranging the best material to use in response to each question.  At the end of the session, which lasted just under two hours, the Mentor read aloud any phrasing that wasn’t Charlie’s own, to be sure that she’d captured Charlie’s meaning accurately, then she sent a copy of her notes to Charlie’s smartphone (by email attachment) and agreed a schedule for further work (see below).

Step Two

Charlie used the notes from that first session to draft her Personal Statement, which she sent to her Mentor by email attachment.  Her Mentor (1) corrected misspellings, grammatical and punctuation errors and added comments in the margin which (2) suggested changes to improve individual sentence structure and word choice, (3) suggested changes to improve the structure and organisation of the statement itself, and (4) indicated sections of the statement which could be improved by including an example or an illustration or by adding more specific detail. This Close Content Editing enabled Charlie to make her own decisions about which suggestions she wanted to follow.

Step Three

Using the feedback the Mentor had provided, Charlie made changes to her first draft and added new material, then sent the revised document back to the Mentor for further feedback.

Step Four

Before Charlie printed the document and headed up to Queen’s to hand it in, she sent her final draft back to her Mentor, who Proofread it one last time, and corrected two small formatting and typographical errors Charlie had missed.

To compare excerpts from Charlie’s first and final drafts, follow this link:

Excerpts from Charlie’s First and Final Drafts