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Abstract

Work placement aims to enhance professional development and allow students to apply knowledge and skills from their programme of study. Students can struggle with both conceptualising work in terms of academic knowledge and the reverse process of transforming tacit knowledge from the workplace into a form they can verbalise. Additionally, they are isolated from their peer support group. To address these issues, we have implemented a blog assessment in Dublin Institute of Technology to actively encourage reflection and also foster peer-to-peer learning through providing an opportunity to share experiences of the diverse range of activities during work placement. A pilot was implemented for Pharmacy Technician students using the institute’s virtual learning environment. As a result of this pilot and subsequent modifications made in the following years, we identified key requirements and resources to prepare, support and engage students in all aspects of the work placement assessment. Examples that we discuss include an assessment rubric, instructional videos and reflective writing resources, a pre-placement reflective writing workshop, feedback mechanisms, and assessment strategies that actively promoted student interaction with their peers. Evaluation results including the main benefits, recommendations, limitations and suggested improvements are also included. It has also been demonstrated that this assessment is transferable to a different programme of study as it was extended to the placement module for BSc (Nutraceuticals). Further work will include additional measures to guide students to focus on critical points during reflection, and will include an increased emphasis on graduate attributes.

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