Benefits and Limitations of an Employer-Led, Structured Logbook to Promote Self-Directed Learning in the Clinical Workplace

Dale, V H M and Pierce, S E and May, S A (2013) Benefits and Limitations of an Employer-Led, Structured Logbook to Promote Self-Directed Learning in the Clinical Workplace. JOURNAL OF VETERINARY MEDICAL EDUCATION, 40 (4). pp. 402-418.

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Abstract

A structured logbook, consisting of a competency log and a learning contract, was designed and implemented as part of a two-week structured work placement for final-year veterinary students to help them become more self-directed in the workplace. The competency log encompassed 48 core skills and, along with the learning contract, was reviewed at the start and end of the placement. To assess their perceptions of the logbook in promoting self-directed learning, students and supervisors were asked to complete a questionnaire pre- and post-placement and to participate in focus groups (students) and interviews (supervisors) after the placement. The study found significant increases pre- to post-placement in students' perceived levels of competence in all 48 skills and their confidence in being self-directed. However, student attitudes toward the logbook significantly decreased in terms of it encouraging supervisors to take a clearly designed role in structuring learning and facilitating alignment of employer and student expectations. Although supervisors were generally positive about the logbook, some had not been able to review it with their students, which affected students' perceptions of the logbook's usefulness. Some supervisors felt they had not received enough training, and most, erroneously, believed the logbook to be an external research initiative rather than having been designed by the head of their own organization. This study demonstrated that a structured logbook may be useful in helping students become more self-directed; however, supervisor support for the logbook is critical. To facilitate this, supervisors require training and support from senior management.