Using a Smartphone App and Coaching Group Sessions to Promote Residents’ Reflection in the Workplace

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Abstract

Problem

Reflecting on workplace-based experiences is necessary for professional development. However, residents need support to raise their awareness of valuable moments for learning and to thoughtfully analyze those learning moments afterwards.

Approach

From October to December 2012, the authors held a multidisciplinary six-week postgraduate training module focused on general competencies. Residents were randomly assigned to one of four conditions with varying degrees of reflection support; they were offered (1) a smartphone app, (2) coaching group sessions, (3) a combination of both, or (4) neither type of support. The app allowed participants to capture in real time learning moments as a text note, audio recording, picture, or video. Coaching sessions held every two weeks aimed to deepen participants’ reflection on captured learning moments. Questionnaire responses and reflection data were compared between conditions to assess the effects of the app and coaching sessions on intensity and frequency of reflection.

Outcomes

Sixty-four residents participated. App users reflected more often, captured more learning moments, and reported greater learning progress than nonapp users. Participants who attended coaching sessions were more alert to learning moments and pursued more follow-up learning activities to improve on the general competencies. Those who received both types of support were most alert to these learning moments.

Next Steps

A simple mobile app for capturing learning moments shows promise as a tool to support workplace-based learning, especially when combined with coaching sessions. Future research should evaluate these tools on a broader scale and in conjunction with residents’ and students’ personal digital portfolios.

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