The reflective writing class blog: Using technology to promote reflection and professional development

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of General Internal Medicine








Clinical clerkship; Humanism; Professionalism; Reflective writing; Undergraduate medical education


INTRODUCTION: The hidden (informal) curriculum is blamed for its negative effects on students' humanism and professional development. To combat this, educational initiatives employing mentored reflective practice, faculty role-modeling, and feedback have been advocated. AIM: Promote reflection on professional development using collaborative, web-based technology. SETTING: Four-week basic medicine clerkship rotation at an academic institution over a one-year period. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: Students were asked to contribute two reflective postings to a class web log (blog) during their rotation. They were able to read each other's postings and leave feedback in a comment section. An instructor provided feedback on entries, aimed to stimulate further reflection. Students could choose anonymous names if desired. PROGRAM EVALUATION: Ninety-one students wrote 177 posts. One-third of students left feedback comments. The majority of students enjoyed the activity and found the instructor's feedback helpful. Assessment of the posts revealed reflections on experience, heavily concerned with behavior and affect. A minority were not reflective. In some cases, the instructor's feedback stimulated additional reflection. Certain posts provided insight to the hidden curriculum. DISCUSSION: We have discovered that blogs can promote reflection, uncover elements of the hidden curriculum, and provide opportunities to promote professional development. © 2008 Society of General Internal Medicine.