How postgraduate pharmacy students develop professional understanding: Re-conceptualising deep, reflective learning


  • Patricia E. Black Department of Medicines Management, School of Pharmacy, Keele University, Keele, Staffordshire ST5 5BG, UK
  • David Plowright Centre for Education Studies, Institute for Learning, University of Hull, Hull HU6 7RX, UK


Learning, pharmacists, postgraduate, professional practice, reflection


Published literature has shown that learners conceptualise and approach learning in different ways. The research reported in this paper explores postgraduate pharmacy students’ perceptions of learning and their understanding of the learning strategies employed whilst undertaking a postgraduate prescribing course.
Twenty-six individuals, who had been registered on Keele University’s Supplementary Prescribing Course, participated in focus groups and individual interviews. Data are presented relating to one of the eight key themes that emerged, that is, traditional, academic learning and non-traditional, reflective learning.
Participants clearly perceived, and had experience of, approaches to learning which they articulated as being of qualitatively different types. They perceived reflective learning to be analogous with a deep learning approach. Participants indicated a synergistic relationship between knowledge accumulation and reflective learning, resulting in higher levels of learning. Further, the findings show that behaviourist and constructivist orientations to education appear to be compatible, despite contrary views in the published literature. The authors describe the complexities of learning through the development of a model that articulates a re-conceptualisation of deep, reflective learning for professional practice.


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Research Article