Work placement reflective assessments and employability enhanced through highlighting graduate attributes.

Julie Dunne


This study investigated the effect of activities to promote awareness of specific prioritised graduate attributes on the quality of reflection displayed in pharmacy student work-placement reflective blog assessments.

The paper focuses on the results from a thematic analysis of reflective writing assisted by NVivo software from a control and research group, using the a priori codes of ‘reflection’ and ‘graduate attributes’, as part of a Participatory Action Research study.

The findings show an increase in reflection associated with graduate attributes in the research group compared to the control group. More importantly, there is evidence of an increase in the variety of graduate attributes being discussed by the research group, with the specifically prioritised attributes featuring most frequently. Additionally, the research group were much more likely to explicitly identify the skill or attribute by name.

This shows that activities that emphasise graduate attributes within a curriculum in advance of entering an internship or work-placement can help students by providing a focal point to frame their work-placement experiences in their reflective assessments. Students have an increased tendency to frame their placement experiences in terms of graduate attributes, as well as core skills developed in the curriculum. This consequently broadens their reflection and advances their employability, particularly initially securing employment, through improved articulation and evidencing of their transferable skills. It also provides a means of assessing the development of graduate attributes, which is a challenging but necessary academic task in a modern professional curriculum.



Graduate attributes, Work-placement, Reflective assessment, Thematic analysis, Employability, blog assessment

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