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Physiotherapy students find guided journals useful to develop reflective thinking and practice during their first clinical placement: a qualitative study

Maria Constantinou, Suzanne S Kuys
Physiotherapy 2013, 99 (1): 49-55

OBJECTIVE: This study evaluated physiotherapy students' perception of a reflective journal in developing reflective thinking and practice and identified the main concepts recorded by students in the journal.

DESIGN: A mixed methods study with qualitative content analysis of student journals and quantitative analysis of questionnaire responses.

PARTICIPANTS: 131 (74 female, 57 male) physiotherapy students undergoing their first clinical placement.

INTERVENTIONS: On completion of their placement, students submitted a reflective journal electronically and completed a questionnaire of closed and open ended questions.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Questionnaires were analysed using frequencies for the responses of the closed questions and thematic analysis of the open ended questions. Journals were de-indentified and underwent a content analysis using Leximancer software to obtain a concept map and frequencies of the main concepts identified in the journals, with specific examples.

RESULTS: The majority (88%, 79/90) of respondents found the journal useful in assisting them to learn from their experiences, and to develop reflective thinking and practice. 54% (49/90) indicated they would continue to use the journals. The most frequently identified concepts were residents, time and exercises; representing more than 5000 of the total concepts identified in the journals. Analysis of the reflective journals indicated that students demonstrated improvements in the three stages of reflective practice: awareness of thoughts and feelings, critical analysis of situation, and development of new perspectives.

CONCLUSIONS: Guided journal writing may be a useful tool in facilitating reflective thinking and practice during clinical placements of physiotherapy students.


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