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Personal development planning : First-year Master of Pharmacy students' engagement with, and attitudes towards, reflective self-assessment

Dyke, Janet E. and Gidman, Wendy K. and Wilson, Sarah E. and Becket, Gordon (2009) Personal development planning : First-year Master of Pharmacy students' engagement with, and attitudes towards, reflective self-assessment. International Journal of Pharmacy Practice, 17 (1). pp. 61-66. ISSN 0961-7671

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The aims of this study were to determine whether first-year Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) students would engage with an activity similar to pharmacists' continuing professional development, and to explore attitudes surrounding this task. A paper version of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain's electronic template for recording continuing professional development was developed. Students were asked to use this paper version to record the planning, action and evaluation carried out while completing a written assignment. The records were assessed to determine any reflective self-assessment contained in the evaluation section, and whether this reflection related to the specified learning outcome and the planning and action stages. Six focus groups were run, during which the students discussed their reaction to completing these records. The study was carried out during the first semester with first-year undergraduate MPharm students in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Central Lancashire in the UK. It was found that few students appeared to engage fully with the whole recording process. During focus-group sessions competence to self-assess was raised as an issue by students, and the value of the reflective process was questioned. Some students did recognize the value of undertaking and recording reflective self-assessment. It appears that undergraduate students need a more gradual introduction to the process of reflective self-assessment. We suggest that the findings are linked to students' previous education experience and conclude there is a need for students to be encouraged to take ownership of their undergraduate learning, to gain confidence in self-assessment and to increase the value they place on reflection.