Honesty in critically reflective essays: an analysis of student practice

Stephen Ryan Maloney, Joanna Hong-Meng Tai, Kristin Jane Lo, Elizabeth Molloy, Dragan Ilic

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23 Citations (Scopus)


This study aims to examine the level of student honesty in critical reflection, and barriers and facilitators for students engaging in honest reflection. Third year physiotherapy students, completing summative reflective essays on clinical encounters using the modified Gibbs cycle, were invited to participate in an anonymous online survey. Student knowledge and beliefs about reflective practice, and disclosure of the truthfulness of their reflections, were assessed using a mixed method approach. A total of 34 students, from a maximum possible of 48 (71 ), participated in the study activities. A total of 68 stated that they were at least 80 truthful about their experiences. There was general student consensus that reflective practice was important for their growth as a clinician. Students questioned the belief that the reflection needed to be based on a factual experience. Reflective practice can be a valuable addition to the clinical education of health care professionals, although this value can be diminished through dishonest reflections if it is not carefully implemented. Student influences on honest reflection include; (1) the design of any assessment criteria, and (2) student knowledge and competency in applying critical reflection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)617 - 626
Number of pages10
JournalAdvances in Health Sciences Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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