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Objective: This study evaluated physiotherapy students’ perception of a reflective journal in developing reflective thinking and practice and identified the main concepts recorded by students in the journal. Design: A mixed methods study with qualitative content analysis of student journals and quantitative analysis of questionnaire responses. Participants: 131 (74 female, 57 male) physiotherapy students undergoing their first clinical placement. Interventions: On completion of their placement, students submitted a reflective journal electronically and completed a questionnaire of closed and open ended questions. Main outcome measures: Questionnaires were analysed using frequencies for the responses of the closed questions and thematic analysis of the open ended questions. Journals were de-indentified and underwent a content analysis using Leximancer© software to obtain a concept map and frequencies of the main concepts identified in the journals, with specific examples. Results: The majority (88%, 79/90) of respondents found the journal useful in assisting them to learn from their experiences, and to develop reflective thinking and practice. 54% (49/90) indicated they would continue to use the journals. The most frequently identified concepts were residents, time and exercises; representing more than 5000 of the total concepts identified in the journals. Analysis of the reflective journals indicated that students demonstrated improvements in the three stages of reflective practice: awareness of thoughts and feelings, critical analysis of situation, and development of new perspectives. Conclusions: Guided journal writing may be a useful tool in facilitating reflective thinking and practice during clinical placements of physiotherapy students.

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Journal Article

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