Focus group study of student physiotherapists' perceptions of reflection

Roche, A. and Coote, S. (2008) Focus group study of student physiotherapists' perceptions of reflection. Medical Education, 42 (11). pp. 1064-1070. ISSN 03080110 (ISSN)


Context: The reflective practice module in the physiotherapy programme at the University of Limerick, Ireland represents the first incidence of the inclusion of such a module within physiotherapy curricula in Ireland. However, research examining the contribution of reflection as a means of learning is limited, particularly from the student perspective. Objectives: This study sought to explore students' perceptions of reflection and its potential contribution to their development before and after the module. Methods: A qualitative research methodology using focus groups was employed to evaluate physiotherapy undergraduate students' perceptions of the module. Three focus groups were held in total. Two were held with Year 3 students, before and after their reflective practice module, respectively, to examine any changes in their perceptions of reflection. A third was held with Year 4 students to determine their perceptions after both the module and subsequent clinical placements. Sessions were audiotaped, transcribed and subjected to in-depth thematic analysis to resolve the significant themes that emerged from the data. Results: Students reported a more advanced level of reflective ability post-module completion. They perceived personal and professional benefits to practising reflection and recognised these skills as strategies with which they could continue to facilitate their professional development. For students, time constraints in the clinical setting represented a barrier to reflection. Conclusions: Students support inclusion of the module in their training, acknowledging its role in improving their confidence and clinical reasoning, and facilitating continuing professional development. Further studies are required to generalise these findings to a wider population. © Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2008.

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