The use of reflective journals in the promotion of reflection and learning in post-registration nursing students

Nurse Educ Today. 2007 Apr;27(3):192-202. doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2006.04.007. Epub 2006 Jul 3.


The aim of this qualitative case study was to examine the use of reflective journals in promoting reflection and learning in post-registration nursing students. A purposive homogenous sample of 42 part-time post-registration students who had undertaken a module either as part of the Diploma in Professional Studies in Palliative Care or Breast Care Nursing within a UK University took part in the study. Data were collected from reflective journals and interviews. The students' journals were analysed to determine the extent and level of reflection using a model devised by Boud [Boud, D., Keogh, R., Walker, D. (Eds.), 1985. Reflection: Turning Experience into Learning. Kogan Page, London] and adapted by Wong [Wong, F.K.Y., Kember, D., Chung, L.Y.F., Yan, L., 1995. Assessing the levels of student reflection from reflective journals. Journal of Advanced Nursing 22, 48-57]. A model devised by Mezirow [Mezirow, J., 1990. How critical reflection triggers transformative learning. In: Mezirow, J. et al. (Eds.), Fostering Critical Reflection in Adulthood: A Guide to Transformative and Emancipatory Learning. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, pp. 1-20; Mezirow, J., 1991. Transformative Dimensions of Adult Learning. Jossey-Bass, San Franscisco] was used to identify non-reflectors, reflectors and critical reflectors. The findings suggest that student writing can be used as evidence for the presence or absence of reflective thinking. Evidence also suggests that journals are a useful tool for promoting reflection and learning. However, some students appear to benefit more from their use than others.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Clinical Competence
  • Education, Nursing, Continuing / organization & administration*
  • Emotions
  • Faculty, Nursing
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Learning
  • Models, Educational
  • Models, Psychological
  • Nursing Education Research
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Nursing Process
  • Nursing Staff / education*
  • Nursing Staff / psychology
  • Preceptorship / organization & administration
  • Professional Competence
  • Qualitative Research
  • Social Support
  • Students, Nursing / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thinking*
  • United Kingdom
  • Writing*