S. Fidler

University of Manchester (UNITED KINGDOM)
Professional practice in the field of Audiology is complex, non routine and thwarted by uncertainties. As such, clinicians cannot rely on theoretical knowledge alone. It is only by experience and exposure to unique clinical situations that one can learn from and gain new knowledge which in turn will influence future clinical practice, ultimately providing a better service for our patient group.

The reflective process in this context enables clinicians to become more creative in their problem solving by moving away from the automatic routine responses and instead making informed and reasoned decisions. The contribution of reflective practice to improved clinical outcomes is well supported in the literature.

The teaching of reflective practice is now an integral part of the BSc Audiology undergraduate curriculum at the University of Manchester.
Undergraduate students are routinely encouraged to reflect by the academic word, using reflective models introduced at the start of the curriculum cycle, to facilitate the development of their reflective skills as they progress through the course.

However, the continued use of models throughout the four years of the undergraduate degree may not be beneficial. Models may have an impact on a student’s ability to reflect, demotivating students, to the extent that their reflective pieces become mechanistic and linear.
Getting the balance right is proving difficult, prompting an exploration of teaching and learning issues related to reflective practice.
A review of the literature identified alternative forms of reflection above and beyond the written word.

The concept of using creativity as a medium for reflection was introduced to the 4th year undergraduate students, undertaking a module in Adult Aural Rehabilitation.
As part of their assessment students were asked to reflect on their learning during the course of the unit, via creative visualisation such as painting; collage, tapestry, photography etc.

The aim of introducing creative reflection:

A. Provide the students with an alternative form of self expression above and beyond the academic word.
B. To enhance the student’s awareness of the importance of reflection in Audiology and to value and enjoy the process. Not go through the motions to achieve academic success.
C. To facilitate the use of higher learning and imagination, which are central to problem solving
D. To allow students to value diversity and its place in clinical practice.

The outcome of creative reflection:
Creative reflection incorporated into health education allowed students to explore the realities of clinical practice, promoting the integration of theory and practice.
It encourages students to use different forms of expression, bringing feelings and ideas to light. It is complementary to the traditional styles of curriculum delivery in Audiology education, engaging the students in developing a holistic approach to healthcare.

Sharing experiences of this journey into creative reflection has highlighted the deficiencies in our teaching of reflective practice.
It has emphasised the need to engage in self reflection and challenged the cultural beliefs and behaviours imposed by the educational setting in which we work.
Although daunting at times, the experience and the discussion it’s created, has encouraged the re-evaluation of our teaching, in the hope of achieving a more successful learning experience for our students.