Assessing reflection in Physiotherapy students writing using the ALE reflective-tool

Burke, Jimmy (2011) Assessing reflection in Physiotherapy students writing using the ALE reflective-tool. [Conference Proceedings]


Reflection is promoted in health-care professions as a developmental process leading to competent practice. A worksheet called “A Learning Experience” (ALE) has demonstrated a reliable means to assess dentistry students’ reflection on their clinical experiences (Pee et al., 2002). Assessment of Physiotherapy students’ reflections has proven problematic; no study has yet employed ALE with this population.The objectives are: To determine if students employing ALE on clinical-placement are reflecting and at what depth. Also, to improve understanding of students reflections through insight gained into their reflective process.A qualitative design using interpretative analysis was employed. Two methods of assessment derived from reflective literature, Johns Questions and Hatton & Smiths criteria, were used to assess worksheets completed by twenty 4th Year Physiotherapy undergraduates. Further in-depth interpretative analysis was undertaken to identify key concepts in students writing.Hatton & Smiths criteria illustrated most students were reflecting at deep and descriptive levels, with two-thirds of students demonstrating the deepest level of reflection. Students addressing higher numbers of Johns Questions typically exhibited higher levels of reflection than those addressing fewer questions. Johns Questions least frequently addressed involved the perspective of patients and processing new experiences. Additional examination revealed four principal concepts: feelings, evaluation of skills/knowledge, personal insight into practice and learning & personal change, which verified observations from earlier analysis.Physiotherapy students completing ALE reflected deeply on clinical experiences. Attempts to make sense of their experiences and consider the patient were key factors in the reflective process of students reflecting most deeply.ReferencePee, B., Woodman, T., Fry, H. & Davenport, E.S. (2002) Appraising and assessing reflection in students’ writing on a structured worksheet, Medical Education, 36, pp. 575–585.

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