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The reflective practitioner: the challenges of supporting public sector senior leaders as they engage in reflective practice

Lisa Rowe (Centre for Work Related Studies, University of Chester, Chester, UK)
Neil Moore (Centre for Work Related Studies, University of Chester, Chester, UK)
Paul McKie (Centre for Work Related Studies, University of Chester, Chester, UK)

Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning

ISSN: 2042-3896

Article publication date: 13 October 2020

Issue publication date: 27 November 2020

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper explores the challenges, issues and benefits of reflective practice faced by work-based practitioners undertaking negotiated experiential learning. The study focuses upon the case of a ground-breaking UK-based Senior Leader Master's Degree Apprenticeship (SLMDA) programme which requires learners to develop and apply reflective practice skills through comprehensive work-based learning and research activities. Degree apprenticeships represent a significant opportunity for providers and employers to become more closely aligned in the joint development and promotion of innovative learning opportunities, yet the efficacy of individually negotiated, experiential learning and reflective practice for senior leaders within a challenging healthcare environment remains relatively unexplored from a tripartite perspective. This paper investigates the role of reflective practice within a leading degree apprenticeship programme which embraces this pedagogic approach and considers the potential barriers and benefits for learners and their organisations.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper begins by discussing the nature of reflective practice in the workplace and explores the growing importance of this activity in contemporary organisations. Theoretical and conceptual foundations relating to experiential learning and reflective practice are analysed and discussed. The SLMDA programme and NHS case organisation are described in detail. Qualitative data drawn from semi-structured interviews undertaken with learners, employers and personal academic tutors (PATs) are then analysed to identify the key issues and challenges encountered.

Findings

The study identifies the benefits of reflective practice, explores the challenges and issues that act as barriers to reflective practice and highlights the importance of the role of the personal academic tutor (PAT) and that of employers in supporting and developing reflective practice in one of the first SLMDA programmes to launch within the UK.

Originality/value

Although reflective practice and work-based research have attracted considerable scholarly activity, investigations have overwhelmingly been focused upon professions such as teaching and nursing and have explored challenges and issues from the perspective of the provider. This study explores reflective practice from the viewpoint of learners, employers and PATs and thereby seeks to complement and expand current understanding by developing a more holistic approach. This work will inform future programme design, practitioner skills development and employer support procedures as learners plan and prepare to facilitate work-based research projects within their organisations.

Keywords

Citation

Rowe, L., Moore, N. and McKie, P. (2020), "The reflective practitioner: the challenges of supporting public sector senior leaders as they engage in reflective practice", Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, Vol. 10 No. 5, pp. 783-798. https://doi.org/10.1108/HESWBL-03-2020-0038

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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