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Postgraduate education to support organisation change: a reflection on reflection

Jim Stewart (Leeds Business School, Leeds, UK)
Anne Keegan (Nottingham Business School, Nottingham, UK)
Pam Stevens (Nottingham Business School, Nottingham, UK)

Journal of European Industrial Training

ISSN: 0309-0590

Article publication date: 6 June 2008




This paper aims to explore how teaching and assessing reflective learning skills can support postgraduate practitioners studying organisational change and explores the challenges for tutors in assessing these journals.


Assessment criteria were developed from the literature on reflective practice and organisational power and politics and mapped against the content of the journals to understand how and why students had benefited from keeping the journals. The extent to which they had engaged in “deep” learning was also assessed.


Tensions arose between giving students sufficient scope and designing appropriate assessment guidelines. Students submitted a wide variety and quality of journals; everything from a DVD, to a diary to a “standard” essay. Reflective journals were found to be an effective tool for students who are practitioners involved in organisational change through their capacity to promote deep rather than surface learning. An unintended outcome of the study was the recognition that reflective practice in postgraduate education supports the skills required to develop the “thinking performer”.

Research limitations/implications

The study was small scale, and not retested.

Practical implications

The study has reinforced the significance of the link between thinking (critical reflection) and performing (workplace application), within organisational change. It has also demonstrated that non‐traditional forms of assessment have greater capacity to promote deep learning than do conventional essays, especially where students are not HR specialists yet are tasked with leading complex organisational change projects. Therefore the use of reflective journals could be extended to other postgraduate programmes with skill requirements in organisational change and management.


While there is now a growing body of literature on reflective practice, few studies exist which examine how learning journals are assessed, particularly for line managers. The analysis has encouraged further research into the development of critical reflection, the use and benefits of learning journals and more specifically, how educators can develop sufficiently robust assessment criteria for such journals.



Stewart, J., Keegan, A. and Stevens, P. (2008), "Postgraduate education to support organisation change: a reflection on reflection", Journal of European Industrial Training, Vol. 32 No. 5, pp. 347-358.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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