Improved levels of critical reflection in Pharmacy Technician student work-placement assessments through emphasising 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 work-placement reflective blog assessments for Pharmacy-technician students. Previous related research showed an increased tendency to frame placement experiences in terms of graduate attributes when they are made more explicit in the curriculum. Now, a thematic analysis of reflective writing from control and research groups, using a priori codes of ‘reflection’ and ‘graduate attributes’ explored the impact on the depth of critical reflection, and its relationship to explicit discussion of graduate attributes. The findings show an improvement in the quality of reflection, with significantly higher levels of critical reflection in the research group (37%), compared to the control group (20%), and lower levels of the non-reflective categories of thinking such as thoughtful action. Furthermore, in 62% of research group cases, there is overlap between critical reflection references and explicit graduate attributes references. Overall, the quality of reflective writing has improved through framing experiences in terms both of graduate attributes, as well as core theoretical knowledge, leading to increased focus on personal development and consequences for future action.


Graduate attributes, Work-placement, Reflective assessment, Thematic analysis, Critical reflection.

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