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01-10-2016 | Original article | Uitgave 5/2016 Open Access

Perspectives on Medical Education 5/2016

Using reflection to influence practice: student perceptions of daily reflection in clinical education

Perspectives on Medical Education > Uitgave 5/2016
Douglas P. Larsen, Daniel A. London, Amanda R. Emke
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Electronic Supplementary Material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1007/​s40037-016-0293-1) contains survey questions that are available to authorized users.
Editor’s Note: Commentary by K. Mann. DOI:10.​1007/​s40037-016-0296-y



Reflection is a key element in learning from experience, but the impact of most programmes of reflection on daily practice remains unclear. We investigated students’ perceptions of adding a daily written reflection assignment to a clinical rotation.


Third-year medical students on a single two-week rotation completed daily reflections analyzing their performance. Programme evaluation used a 33-question anonymized survey. Quantitative data were summarized and qualitative responses coded for recurring themes.


Twenty-six students completed the survey (90 % response rate). Eighty-five percent of students felt that the daily reflections had a positive impact on their learning from clinical experience. Seventy-seven percent of students reported that the programme changed their awareness of their thoughts and actions, and 80 % felt that it improved their recall of experiences. A greater sense of mindfulness and focus on self-improvement were major themes that emerge from students’ descriptions of the role of daily reflections in their learning.


Overall, daily reflections demonstrated a positive learning influence. This exploratory study suggests students may benefit from more frequent, short reflections as opposed to more typically spaced reflective assignments.
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