Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Qualitative Analysis of Written Reflections during a Teaching Certificate Program

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Qualitative Analysis of Written Reflections during a Teaching Certificate Program

Article excerpt


Reflection is an intentional, dynamic process that allows improvement in one's actions, abilities, and knowledge by learning from past experiences. (1-4) While this process can be useful in almost all aspects of life, reflection in the workplace can be particularly beneficial. Successful professionals must be able to reflect on their experiences in order to find solutions to complex problems encountered on a daily basis. (1-2) Such reflection is not only necessary for pharmacists and other health care professionals to improve their practice, but also to further hone their expertise as educators. (5) Reflection should be used by pharmacists committed to professional growth as lifelong learners. (6)

The practice of reflection during residency programs offers a valuable opportunity to observe and guide residents in this process at the beginning of their careers. Teaching certificate programs within pharmacy residency programs were founded on the idea that having specialized pharmacy knowledge does not necessarily equate with being an excellent teacher. (7) Teaching certificate programs give participants general pedagogical knowledge to combine with their existing content knowledge. Participants complete didactic and experiential teaching activities to develop such teaching skills. A critical component of the teaching certificate program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Pharmacy is the extensive reflection required throughout the year-long program. Because reflection is such an integral part of professional development, evaluation of the content and extent of participants' reflections is imperative.

Research on the topic of reflection is extensive, but investigation of reflection on teaching by pharmacy faculty members or faculty members in training is not described in the literature. Additionally, methods to assess teaching certificate programs focus on surveys but lack the details offered by more in-depth analysis. Qualitative analysis of reflective essays could provide better understanding of program benefits and participant growth. Our mixed-methods evaluation is the first to examine thematic composition of reflections as well as the extent of reflection evidenced in the written essays of potential future pharmacy faculty members as they participate in teaching certificate programs.


This study was designed as a mixed methods thematic analysis of teaching certificate program participants' reflective essays. A qualitative approach was chosen because this method allows deep analysis of the text not obtainable from survey-based research. A modified constant comparison method of analysis was employed, and categories and themes were constructed from open and axially coded data. (8) The coding scheme arose from the data as researchers explored them. Resulting themes were evaluated in comparison to the typology derived from teacher reflection theoretical framework. Qualitative methods were quantified to provide comparison of themes and level of reflection. The data evaluation provides a descriptive evaluation of the effectiveness of this teaching certificate program activity and its impact on teaching development.

The school's teaching certificate program was originally developed in 2005 to enhance the teaching skills of pharmacy residents but quickly expanded to include preceptors because of an increased demand for preceptor development in teaching. The program, described in a previous manuscript, (9) facilitated development as an educator through the following experiences: formulating personal goals for development in teaching, tailoring teaching approaches to learning setting and audience, practicing effective assessment and feedback skills, receiving ongoing feedback from program faculty members, reflecting upon individual teaching experiences, developing a personal teaching philosophy, and documenting experiences through the development of a comprehensive teaching portfolio. …

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