Document Type (Journals)

Original Research


Self-reflection is paramount to the development of professionalism and serves as the foundation of adult education and lifelong learning. Pedagogical approaches in health sciences programs that promote self-reflection are growing in popularity. Current literature identifies a gap in what and how students conceive self-reflection and whether self-reflection is creating professionals that meet the challenges of today’s healthcare climate. This qualitative study explores the conceptions of self-reflection for occupational therapy students in Level II Fieldwork. The use of phenomenographic methodology guided the collection of information-rich data through semi-structured interviews. Twenty-one occupational therapy graduates volunteered to participate in the interviews. Verbatim transcripts were coded to identify categories and patterns in the data. A focused discussion was employed as a member-checking method to ensure accuracy of study outcomes. Participants identified that self-reflection may serve to inform personal and professional practices during occupational therapy student clinical rotations. Although universally defined, student self-reflection occurred in countless ways and took many forms. Participants valued its function in expanded decision making, self-awareness, and competence in fieldwork and everyday occupations. These findings facilitate further research and the creation of new self-reflection educational methods or interventions designed to build or remediate self-reflective capacity of health sciences students during academic and clinical programming.


Susan L. Iliff, Ph.D., OTR/L is an Assistant Professor at Belmont University. She has practiced occupational therapy for over twenty years in pediatric and community-based settings. Her research interests include learning and teaching strategies, pediatrics, and international global health service.

Gaylene Tool, MOTS, COTA/L has practiced as an OT assistant for over five years, providing service in rural New Mexico. Her Bachelor’s degree is in Interdisciplinary studies with concentrations in rehabilitation services, psychology and social work. She is currently at the University of New Mexico pursuing a Masters in OT.

Patricia Bowyer, EdD, M.S., OTR, FAOTA is Doctoral Programs Coordinator, Professor and Senior Scientist at Texas Woman’s University, School of Occupational Therapy-Houston. Her research focuses on increasing levels of life participation for children, youth and adults with disabilities through the development of theory-based assessments and interventions based on the Model of Human Occupation.

Diane Parham, Ph.D., OTR/L, FAOTA is a Professor in the Occupational Therapy Graduate Program at the University of New Mexico. She has over 30 years of experience in occupational therapy education. Her peer-reviewed journal publications include an article on reflective practitioners, and seven articles that address occupational therapy in academia.

Tina Fletcher Ed.D., MFA, OTR is an Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy at the T. Boone Pickens Institute of Health Sciences at Texas Woman’s University in Dallas, Texas. Her areas of research entail well-being, creative expression, and community participation.

Wyona M. Freysteinson, Ph.D., MN is an associate professor who teaches in the Master of Nursing Science and DNP/PhD nursing programs in the College of Nursing at Texas Woman’s University. One of her areas of expertise is the use of qualitative research methodologies in understanding phenomenon as experienced from the first-person perspective.

Declaration of Interest

The authors report no declarations of interest.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.