Using artefacts and qualitative methodology to explore pharmacy students’ learning practices

Ruth Edwards, John I'Anson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To investigate how pharmacy students negotiate the pedagogical demands of a revised pharmacy curriculum and to understand students’ learning practices and to explore the impact of assessment and feedback regimes in one School of Pharmacy.

Methods: Using qualitative methodology and artefacts to explore pharmacy students’ learning in order to understand their learning practices in negotiating a field of inquiry as well as identifying difficulties encountered along the way. Data collection took the form of individual semi-structured interviews with undergraduate pharmacy students. Participants were asked to select three artefacts (a photograph, an object, a song, a picture or something else) that represented what learning as a pharmacy student meant to them and bring that along to an interview. Data were analyzed thematically using mind-mapping and subsequently, Law’s25,26 concepts of practices and collateral realities and Ingold’s12,12 concept of dwelling were used to make sense of the analysis.

Results: Findings were grouped into five distinct themes: study practices or strategies adopted, rituals associated with learning and studying, pharmacy knowledge, motivation for learning and ways of learning. In the following section, each of these identified thematics is summarized, with illustrations from the data given. The affective dimensions of learning was a strong emergent theme throughout the data.

Conclusions: The use of artefacts in the research process afforded in-depth insight into the specific study practices adopted by a group of pharmacy students. Findings from this study suggest that qualitative methods can be useful in surfacing students’ practice as regards strategies deployed, and difficulties faced in their negotiation of new pharmacy curricula.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7082
Pages (from-to)47-59
JournalAmerican Journal of Pharmaceutical Education
Issue number1
Early online date8 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

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  • learning
  • pharmacy
  • qualitative methods
  • artefacts
  • practices


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