Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

A Model for Assessing Reflective Practices in Pharmacy Education

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

A Model for Assessing Reflective Practices in Pharmacy Education

Article excerpt


Learning never ceases in a professional career, and the pharmacy profession is no exception. The introduction of new medications and recognition of new and complex medication interactions along with diagnostic and technical developments in pharmacy is ongoing. Clinical decision-making is integral to pharmacy education, and reflective thinking may lead to better informed clinical decisions. (1) Critical thinking, (2-5) problem solving, (6-8) self-directed learning, (1) and skills to overcome communication barriers (9) are essential skills for continuous evaluation of professional practice. (10) Furthermore, increased public concerns over medication errors highlight the importance of critical thinking and decision making. (11) It is with reflective thinking that these skills can be enhanced.

Reflective-thinking skills need to be a focus in pharmacy education so graduates have the ability to view clinical situations from different angles to gain new insights and perspectives. It is with reflection on practice that we challenge our own firmly held beliefs and assumptions. (1) This process is thought to underpin informed judgments and clinical decision-making. Thus, integrating these processes in pharmacy education can better prepare the pharmacy student for the intricacies of future clinical practice. In addition to integrating reflective thinking into pharmacy curricula, using sound methods of assessing students' reflective-thinking skills is also important. Yet, there is a significant gap in the literature regarding the use of reflective rubrics to assess levels of reflecting thinking in pharmacy education. Furthermore, there have been limited provisions for the development of and research on the reliability of such rubrics in this field. This paper reviews the literature to date surrounding assessment strategies employed in health professions education, with the goal of identifying a model to assess reflective practices in pharmacy education.

Reflective practices involve multifaceted processes and form the foundation for deep learning from previous experiences. (1,12) Reflective and critical reflective thinking can be used as tools to promote the retention of knowledge one is exposed to in a traditional didactic classroom setting. For example, students do not simply acquire new information and add it to their memory rather, they integrate and deduce meaning by relating their new found knowledge with prior experiences. (13) Previously, learning was focused narrowly on purely knowledge gained (13) However, learning involves a number of complex processes, which may include reflection and "draws on a reservoir of accumulated experience as a rich resource of learning." (13) Therefore, if reflective practices assist with deeper learning, better judgments, and clinical decision-making, integration of reflective-practice activities into curricula may benefit future pharmacists. For reflective practices to be incorporated into curricula, appropriate assessment strategies must also be addressed.


Four researchers conducted a simple systematic review using a 5-step approach (14) (Figure 1). Relevant articles for this review were obtained through searches of: Scopus; ERIC (Educational Resources Information Center); PubMed; Medline via OvidSP; and PsychINFO via OvidSP. Keywords included reflective practice, assessing reflective writing, reflective rubric(s), and reflective learning. The inclusion criteria were publications relating to health disciplines (pharmacy, medicine, nursing, dentistry, and allied health sciences) in the higher education field. English, peer-reviewed journal articles published in the last 20 years were considered. Journal articles that specifically identified strategies for assessing reflective activities were included. Articles meeting inclusion criteria were further screened by reading the abstract.

Figure 1. Simple Systematic Review Using a 5-step
Approach (14)

Step 1: Framing the Questions

Ql. … 
Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.