University of Limerick
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Reflective practice across speech and language therapy and teaching: An Integrative Review

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posted on 2022-11-23, 15:00 authored by Jessica McCluskeyJessica McCluskey

Background: Effective co-practice is considered a linchpin of inclusive education. Speech and language therapists in collaboration with teachers, are among the professionals who have a role in ensuring inclusion for students. The challenges of collaboration are well documented, with communication considered a potential antidote. Proposals for how collaborative communication can take place often align with models of reflection and reflection itself has long been documented as a strategy used by effective clinicians to improve practice. Hence, teachers and speech and language therapists reflecting together could be considered ‘a port of entry’ for effective collaborative practice. However, uncertainty around a shared understanding about reflection within and across the professions of teaching and speech and language therapy may pose a barrier to it occurring.

Method: The aim of this study was to synthesise the literature on the topic of reflection across the professions of speech and language therapy and teaching. The method of qualitative evidence synthesis was an integrative review and sought to determine how the phenomenon of reflective practice is understood. Two systematic search strategies were employed, a database search to identify empirical studies, reviews, theoretical papers and a web-based search to identify policy texts relating to reflective practice. Data was collected from all texts using data extraction forms. Included texts were appraised using literature specific quality appraisal tools.

Results: Forty-five texts were included in the analysis. The final sample comprised: empirical papers (n=23), theoretical papers (n=14), reviews (n=2) and policy texts (n=6). Key characteristics of the sample were described. Qualitative content analysis was undertaken, with the preparation, organisation and reporting steps of analysis outlined. Three overarching categories were identified which derived from the pervasiveness of coded data. These categories were reflective practice as a means of achieving positive change, reflective practice as a professional endeavour, and reflective practice as a complex and individualised process, which were further analysed to describe eleven sub-categories. 

Discussion: The findings from this integrative review reveal that there is a shared understanding of reflective practice across the professions of speech and language therapy and  teaching across the final included texts. The three overarching categories present a way of organising literature findings on reflective practice where a collaborative organising framework for reflection does not exist. The circumstances within which co-reflection could potentially take place requires further exploration. In the absence of any identified literature on co-reflection between speech and language therapists and teachers, these three ideas have the potential to shape a unified way of thinking about reflective practice in the future. It is important to note that differences also exist between the professions, namely in relation to terminology, models for reflecting and the volume of literature on the topic of reflective practice. In addition, the focus or purpose of reflective practice can differ for speech and  language therapists and teachers. The potential implications of shared and different understandings of reflection were considered within the context of inter-professional collaborative practice in inclusive education environments, with cited difficulties identified as ongoing challenges. On the basis of findings from this study, suggestions were made to guide  future research, the practice of professionals and the decision-making of organisational infrastructures. Hence, this integrative review represents the first step of an exploratory, multi-phase study in considering collaborative reflective practice between therapists and teachers. 



  • Master (Research)

First supervisor

Carol-Anne Murphy

Second supervisor

Aoife Gallagher

Department or School

  • Allied Health

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