The mirror crack'd.... An illuminative evaluation of the use and relevance of reflection in undergraduate Dental Care Professionals education

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This research project explored the use of reflective practice by a Bachelor of Science (BSc) cohort in a United Kingdom (U.K.) dental training establishment following the publication of Preparing for Practice by the General Dental Council (GDC) in 2012, which identified the Learning Outcomes for the Dental Team registration in the U.K.
The research reviewed the evolving role that professional reflective practice has in student education by capturing students’ experiences as they transitioned through the preclinical (simulated) aspects of their programme and onto their final year when they actively treat patients on the clinical floor and in various outreach locations. The final aspect moved away from the educational arena, focussing on the realms of GDC Fitness to Practice cases. Thus adding an element of context and meaning to the realities of professional reflection in the real world, highlighting the potential consequences of failing to nurture future professional reflective practice activities as a GDC registrant. An aspect which is particularly pertinent with the advent of Enhanced CPD on the horizon in 2018.
The drivers for reflective practice to occur is twofold; with an onus on the need of personal development and insight, alongside the broader pre-requisites from formal educational bodies and statutory regulatory authorities. These authorities may well favour the benefits that reflective practice brings by facilitating a shift of responsibility, away from educational decision makers, onto the registrant to self-manage and develop their own awareness. Meeting both of these aspects is feasible, providing that the registrants have the skills, support, time and a clear understanding (definition) of the term professional reflective practice and what this should mean to them in the context of their professional practice.
The research findings demonstrate that the main role of reflective practice in primary dental care settings is to gain insight by facilitating pondering, thinking, discussion or asking questions (of oneself or one another). By reviewing the positive and negative experiences that they had encountered, students were then able to work things out (making sense of things), in turn, allowing them to learn from experience and therefore implement meaningful development opportunities for the future.
Date of AwardNov 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorIsobel Ryder (Supervisor)

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