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

Douglas P. Larsen, Daniel A. London, Amanda R. Emke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Purpose: 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. Methods: 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. Results: 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. Conclusion: 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-291
Number of pages7
JournalPerspectives on Medical Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016


  • Practice-based learning
  • Reflection
  • Reflection-in-action
  • Reflection-on-action


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