Balancing the books: a benchmarking study into Australian postgraduate psychology practicum logbooks
Objective: Postgraduate psychology programmes are required to maintain a formal record of individual trainee placement hours in the format of placement logbooks. Anecdotal reports suggest there is substantial variability in the way practicum logbooks are configured and utilised across Australian institutions. This study aimed to provide benchmarking information on the practicum logbooks of Australian-based postgraduate psychology programmes. Method: Postgraduate psychology training programmes across Australia were invited to share their logbook instructions and templates. Results: Templates from 40 postgraduate psychology programmes delivered across 27 higher education providers were received. There was consistency across programmes in some elements of logbooks such as recording the date and duration of placement activities, and a placement supervisor signature. Almost all logbooks included a tally of placement hours (97.5%) and specified individual (92.5%) and group (95%) supervision hours. There was high variability in relation to all other entries. For example, only a third included space for supervisee reflections and inclusion of different sub-categories of types of direct client work ranged from 8% to 85.7% dependent on the programme. Conclusions: Findings highlight the need for standardisation of logbook processes to increase confidence in the accuracy of recorded placement hours. Key Points What is already known about this topic: Postgraduate psychology programmes are required to maintain a formal record of placement hours and experiences of each trainee in the format of placement logbooks. Anecdotal reports suggest there is substantial variability in the way practicum logbooks are configured and utilised across Australian institutions. The functionality of logbooks differs substantially dependent on the type and depth of information recorded, with potential utility for competency gevaluations, placement planning and reflective practice. What this topic adds: Benchmarking of 40 postgraduate psychology programme logbooks indicated that programmes are reasonably consistent in data collected that meets minimal accreditation standards. There were significant discrepancies in terms of the amount and depth of information recorded (e.g., client information and sub-categories of client hours) and the utility of logbooks for reflection and competency assessments. Findings highlight the need to reconsider current placement logbook practices, with a view to optimising and extending beyond the traditional accounting and oversight functions.
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