“It’s just a table of numbers”: the search for pedagogical meaning in psychology practicum logbooks
Objective: Postgraduate training programs are required to maintain a formal record of trainees’ placement experiences in the form of placement logbooks. There is a need to explore the perceived functions, benefits and shortcomings of placement logbooks, as well as how practicum information can be further utilised to support trainee development. Method: This qualitative study aimed to better understand the placement logbook user experience. Sixteen participants (eight trainees and eight academic staff) at Australian higher education providers participated in focus groups and interviews. This study was informed by a critical realist epistemological framework with transcripts analysed using thematic analysis. Results: There was substantial overlap in themes identified across the participant groups, therefore results for trainees and academic staff were merged. Findings indicated that the logbook was perceived to be predominately a tool to keep track of placement hours, with potential pedagogical functions noted but seldom employed. Completion and review of the logbook was mostly expressed in negative terms, with trainees reporting anxiety related to attaining needed hours, and academics noting time constraints for review. There was notable confusion regarding what counts as recordable activity. Participants raised a number of ways to improve logbooks, including better use of technology, standardized formats and integration with other systems. Conclusions: Findings highlight that more could and should be done to improve the use of logbooks in psychology training.