gms | German Medical Science

5th International Conference for Research in Medical Education

15.03. - 17.03.2017, Düsseldorf

Scaffolding workplace based learning through a smartphone reflection app and coaching group sessions

Meeting Abstract

  • corresponding author presenting/speaker Karen Könings - Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands
  • Jean van Berlo - Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands
  • Richard Koopmans - Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands
  • Henk Hoogland - Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands
  • Ingrid Spanjers - Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands
  • Cees van der Vleuten - Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands
  • Jeroen van Merrienboer - Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands

5th International Conference for Research in Medical Education (RIME 2017). Düsseldorf, 15.-17.03.2017. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2017. DocO17

doi: 10.3205/17rime17, urn:nbn:de:0183-17rime179

Published: March 7, 2017

© 2017 Könings et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. See license information at



Question: Reflection on experiences at the workplace is necessary for professional development. Support is needed to stimulate reflection, as learners do not automatically reflect. Reflection requires awareness of valuable moments for learning and thoughtful analyzing them later on. This study aims to promote both aspects of reflection in medical residents: reflection on situations at the workplace and thorough analyses of them later on. Reflection was focused on general competencies, like communication, collaboration, patient safety, ethics, and professionalism.

Methods: Catching valuable moments at work was promoted by a newly developed smartphone app for straightaway registering them as a note, audio recording, picture or video. For supporting deep reflection of caught learning moments, interdisciplinary coaching groups of about ten residents and a supervisor were organized every fortnight. In a 2x2 experimental pretest posttest design, 64 residents were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: only app, only coaching, app plus coaching, control. Effects on level of reflection and frequency of capturing learning moments were investigated over a period of two months.

Results: Results showed positive effects of both app and coaching on change in level of reflection between pretest and posttest: Self-reported learning gain from work was higher for app-users, and alertness and performed learning activities on general competencies improved by coaching groups. An interaction effect was found for alertness with highest scores in the app-plus-coaching condition. Number of registered reflections tended to be higher for app-users.

Conclusions: The app for learning moments increases capturing of learning moments and reflection, which are key elements of workplace based learning. Coaching groups for discussion of experiences are essential for reflecting on general competencies. Reflective alertness is best stimulated by a combination of support measures. A simple mobile app for registering learning moments has high added value for learning from work.


Könings KD, van Berlo J, Koopmans R, Hoogland H, Spanjers IA, Ten Haaf J, van der Vleuten CP, van Merriënboer JJ. Promoting Residents' Reflection at Work: Combining a Smartphone App with Coaching Groups. Acad Med. 2016;91(3):365-370. DOI: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000989 External link