Reflective Practice and Self Assessment

Developing Reflective Practice

Reflective practice is a key skill for the student to learn and the student supervisor to facilitate.  Reflective practice integrates new experiences with previous knowledge and develops self awareness  The student is encouraged to become more self-aware, identifying their strengths and weaknesses and determining strategies for improvement.  Developing reasoning skills enhances the delivery of safe patient care.  The ability to reflect on practice and ‘learn from experience’ is considered essential in health professions.  This contributes to becoming a ‘life-long learner’, creating a clinician who can manage unique situations and continue to develop into the future independently.  A supervisor who is able to consciously and visibly reflect on their own practice provides a valuable role model.

In this video Jodie Booth, an occupational therapist with Queensland Health's Deadly Ears program, describes how she facilitates reflective practice in clinical education placements.


 Tips to facilitate reflective practice:

  • Using guided and advanced questioning techniques within both formal and informal teaching opportunities.
  • Encouraging the use of a reflective journal (as often supplied by the University).
  • Modelling reflective practice by being open about your own practice and past learning experiences.

Resources to support development of reflective practice skills in students:

Fostering Self Assessment in Students

An important aspect of developing as a professional is the ability to reflect on your own performance, evaluate it and identify strategies to improve their practice.

Students may need to be guided in their self assessment. It is important to establish that the student understands the required performance. The student may initially need help separating their emotional response to their performance (e.g. ‘that was terrible’ ) from what actually happened (e.g. what the student said, how the client responded, why did that happen, what could make that work better). 

As students progress through their training their ability to self assess will also change and mature. 

Stage of placement

Characteristics of the stage

Suggested self assessment activities for the student

Beginning of the placement: adapting to the new environment

Observing and practising

Familiarising with protocols

Looking for a role model

Asking questions and seeking reassurance

Building relationships with Clinical Educator and team


  • Become familiar with the assessment criteria
  • Ask the student to develop a learning contract by reflecting on what they have learnt and what they would like to focus on during the placement
  • Complete structured observations where they reflect on how the Clinical Educator evaluated their own performance

During the placement: Student is familiar with the placement and how it runs

Finding a good role model

Asking more specific questions

Less supervision required

  • · Engage in reflective practice by completing self assessments
  • · Compare the student’s self assessment with the Clinical Educator’s feedback

Towards the end of placement

Student is feeling comfortable with the placement

Student is acting more like a health professional

Greater mastery and evaluation of own performance so less supervision is required

Comparing own performance to the criteria

  • Continue to engage in reflective practice
  • Compare reflections from the beginning of placement, during the placement and at the end of placement

(Smith, 2013)

Guided questions to support students’ abilities to reflect on a clinical experience can be useful for clinical supervisors.  They could focus on a significant event following a professional development activity and after a clinical encounter.



Please Note: References remain valid until superseded by later research. The resources referenced here are regularly reviewed and are considered current and relevant to the topics presented.

  • Lewis, A (2013) Reflective practice? What is it and how do I do it? Journal of Clinical Practice in Speech Language Pathology, 15(2), 70-74.
  • Smith, M (2013). Assessment of Clinical Learning. In Clinical and Fieldwork Placement in the Health Professions. 2nd Ed. Stagnitti, Schoo & Welch (Eds). Oxford University Press: Melbourne.


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