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Reflection in a workplace qualification: challenges and benefits

Pauline M. Hegarty (Drug Discovery (R&D), GlaxoSmithKline, Stevenage, UK)
Henry A. Kelly (Drug Discovery (R&D), GlaxoSmithKline, Stevenage, UK)
Anita Walsh (Birkbeck, University of London, London, UK)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Article publication date: 25 October 2011




The purpose of this paper is to discuss the challenges and benefits that arose from the implementation of an innovative example of employer responsive provision, i.e. of a postgraduate programme that is work‐based and designed specifically to meet the needs of the organisation.


The approach is to outline the principles and challenges involved in designing a postgraduate programme that combines both scientific and personal/professional development in a way that is extremely unusual. In order to achieve this, in addition to assessment of technical scientific skills, it was necessary to integrate pedagogy that would support critical reflection on wider professional practice into the programme. The use of reflection on practice adopted an approach which is not familiar to the scientific community.


Adoption of reflection on practice introduced particular challenges for programme design and delivery that required those involved to review their own practice critically. This provided particular challenges in the context of a scientific community, due to the required change in perspective. However, now the programme is established, it appears that the inclusion of critical reflection has provided the organisation with some additional benefits and unexpected observations.


The originality value of the paper derives from two elements. One is the consideration of a programme that integrates a technical scientific perspective together with reflective practice. The other is in the indication from the outcomes that such a combination may be of demonstrable organisational benefit. Evaluation of the organisational benefits of work‐based learning (as opposed to the individual benefits) has in the past proved challenging.



Hegarty, P.M., Kelly, H.A. and Walsh, A. (2011), "Reflection in a workplace qualification: challenges and benefits", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 23 No. 8, pp. 531-540.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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