Instruments to measure the ability to self-reflect: A systematic review of evidence from workplace and educational settings including health care

Julie C. Williams*, Tony Ireland, Sheena Warman, Martin A. Cake, David Dymock, Ellayne Fowler, Sarah Baillie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
276 Downloads (Pure)


Self-reflection has become recognised as a core skill in dental education, although the ability to self-reflect is valued and measured within several professions. This review appraises the evidence for instruments available to measure the self-reflective ability of adults studying or working within any setting, not just health care.

Materials and Methods: A systematic review was conducted of 20 electronic databases (including Medline, ERIC, CINAHL and Business Source Complete) from 1975 to 2017, supplemented by citation searches. Data were extracted from each study and the studies graded against quality indicators by at least two independent reviewers, using a coding sheet. Reviewers completed a utility analysis of the assessment instruments described within included studies, appraising their reported reliability, validity, educational impact, acceptability and cost. 

Results: A total of 131 studies met the inclusion criteria. Eighteen were judged to provide higher quality evidence for the review and three broad types of instrument were identified, namely: rubrics (or scoring guides), self-reported scales and observed behaviour. 

Conclusions: Three types of instrument were identified to assess the ability to self-reflect. It was not possible to recommend a single most effective instrument due to under reporting of the criteria necessary for a full utility analysis of each. The use of more than one instrument may therefore be appropriate dependent on the acceptability to the faculty, assessor, student and cost. Future research should report on the utility of assessment instruments and provide guidance on what constitutes thresholds of acceptable or unacceptable ability to self-reflect, and how this should be managed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-404
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Dental Education
Issue number4
Early online date6 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019

Structured keywords

  • Veterinary Education Research Group


  • assessment instruments
  • self-reflection
  • systematic review


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