Survey of undergraduates’ perceptions of experiential learning in the MPharm programme: The TELL Project

Keywords: Students, Pharmacy, Education, Pharmacy, Pharmacy Residencies, Professionalism, Motivation, Pharmacists, Pharmacy Service, Hospital, Pharmacies, Primary Health Care, Cross-Sectional Studies, Scotland


Objective: To determine the perception of undergraduate pharmacy students of their experiential learning (EL) placements both in the community and hospital settings.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted utilizing a six-item online survey consisting of one open-ended and five closed-ended questions, the latter utilising five-point Likert-type scales ranging from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5). All undergraduate pharmacy students from the School of Pharmacy (N=496) were included in the study. Survey questions assessed students’ perceptions on the effectiveness of the EL, tutors and placements sites, and organisation and structure of the EL. Thematic content analysis was performed on the open-ended comments, where relevant themes were generated.

Results: From the 139 responses (response rate: 28%), 121 responses were analysed, and of these, 72.5% already had part-time jobs in community pharmacies. Close to 85% felt that their part-time work should contribute to EL hours, which is currently not recognised by the university. Respondents were positive about the effectiveness of EL in developing their professionalism and communication (M=3.84, SD=1.05), clinical (M=3.42, SD=1.22), and technical skills (M=3.32, SD=1.25) Respondents provided favourable feedback about their experience in the hospital as it gave them a real-world exposure to the role of a hospital pharmacist. Community placements were not viewed favourably and this was mainly attributed to the poor experience with tutors whom they felt used them as an extra pair of hands. This was thought to impede their learning experience. They also felt that hospital placements were of insufficient duration, reported by 72.5% of respondents. Respondents also felt they should be sent to other sites such as primary care for placements.

Conclusions: Tutor-training is key to ensure tutors are aware of the responsibilities and expectations. Similarly, quality assurance measures should be adopted to ensure tutors and placement sites are capable of providing students with an effective placement experience. While placement durations are a concern, the focus should be on the quality of the placement experience, and ensuring there is structure and flexibility. Content changes are also needed to include emerging placement sites such as primary care to prepare students for evolving pharmacist roles in the changing healthcare system.


Download data is not yet available.


Kolb DA. Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall; 1984.

Fejzic J, Henderson A, Smith NA, Mey A. Community pharmacy experiential placement: Comparison of preceptor and student perspectives in an Australian postgraduate pharmacy programme. Pharm Educ. 2013;13(1):15-21.

McGivney MS, Hall DL, Stoehr GP, Donegan TE. An introductory pharmacy practice experience providing pharmaceutical care to elderly patients. Am J Pharm Educ. 2011;75(8):159.

Naro P, Beall J, Wensel T, Click E, McCullough B, Heard A. Impact of a Community Pharmacy Based Health, Wellness and Prevention Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience. Pharm Educ. 2017;17(1):154-158.

Agness CF, Huynh D, Brandt N. An introductory pharmacy practice experience based on a medication therapy management service model. Am J Pharm Educ. 2011;75(5):82.

Winn P, Turner CJ. Description and Evaluation of an MPharm Practice-based Experience Pilot Program. Am J Pharm Educ. 2016;80(9):151.

McCartney J, Boschmans S-A. South African pharmacy student perspectives of a hospital-based experiential learning programme. Pharm Educ. 2018;18(1):29-40.

Burrows J, Dall'Alba G, Caze AL. Becoming pharmacists: Students’ understanding of pharmacy practice at graduation from an Australian University. Curr Pharm Teach Learn. 2016;8(6):729-741.

Stupans I Owen S. Planning and scaffolding for learning in experiential placements in Australian pharmacy schools. Asia-Pacific Journal of Cooperative Education. 2009;10(1):29-37.

Wuller WR, Luer MS. A sequence of introductory pharmacy practice experiences to address the new standards for experiential learning. Am J Pharm Educ. 2008;72(4):73.

General Pharmaceutical Council. Future pharmacists: Standards for the initial education and training of pharmacists. London, UK: General Pharmaceutical Council; 2011.

Jacob SA, Boyter AC. Nationwide survey of experiential learning in MPharm programmes in UK Universities. Int J Pharm Pract. 2020;28(2):121‐129.

Raosoft. Online sample size calculator. Available at: (accessed Feb 24, 2020).

Jacob SA, Boyter AC. “My experiences were highly-dependent on the knowledge and enthusiasm of the tutor”: graduates’ feedback of experiential learning in an MPharm programme Part 1 (TELL Project). Stud Educ Eval. 2020;66(sep):100891.

Haynes-Maslow L, Andress L, Jilcott Pitts S, Osborne I, Baquero B, Bailey-Davis L, Byker-Shanks C, Houghtaling B, Kolodinsky J, Lo BK, Morgan EH, Piltch E, Prewitt E, Seguin RA, Ammerman AS. Arguments Used in Public Comments to Support or Oppose the US Department of Agriculture's Minimum Stocking Requirements: A Content Analysis. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2018;118(9):1664‐1672.

Braun V, Clarke V. Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qual Res Psychol. 2006;3(2):77-101.

Prisco JL, Hritcko PM, Feret B, Yorra ML, Todd NE, Kim Tanzer, Basile C, Bonaceto K, Morelli R, Carace N, Szumita A. Assessing experiential education factors contributing to a PGY1 residency match: Pharmacy residency program director and comparative student survey. Curr Pharm Teach Learn. 2018;10(2):146‐153.

Talley CR. Experiential rotations for pharmacy students. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2006;63(11):1029.

Cox CD. Quantity vs Quality in Experiential Education. Am J Pharm Educ. 2016;80(3):36.

Healey M, Jenkins A. Kolb's Experiential Learning Theory and Its Application in Geography in Higher Education. Journal of Geography. 2000;99(5):185-195.

Moon JA. A Handbook of Reflective and Experiential Learning: Theory and Practice. United Kingdom: Routledge; 2004.

General Pharmaceutical Council. Tomorrow’s pharmacy team: responses to the discussion paper. London: General Pharmaceutical Council; 2015.

Hendry G, Winn P, Wiggins S, Turner CJ. Qualitative Evaluation of a Practice-based Experience Pilot Program for Master of Pharmacy Students in Scotland. Am J Pharm Educ. 2016;80(10):165.

Kassam R, Kwong M, Collins JB. A demonstration study comparing "role-emergent" versus "role-established" pharmacy clinical placement experiences in long-term care facilities. BMC Med Educ. 2013;13:104.

Chaar BB, Brien JA, Hanrahan J, McLachlan A, Penm J, Pont L. Experimental education in Australian pharmacy: Preceptors' perspectives. Pharm Educ. 2011;11(1):166-171.

Christner JG, Dallaghan GB, Briscoe G, Casey P, Fincher RM, Manfred LM, Margo KI, Muscarella P, Richardson JE, Safdieh J, Steiner BD. The Community Preceptor Crisis: Recruiting and Retaining Community-Based Faculty to Teach Medical Students-A Shared Perspective From the Alliance for Clinical Education. Teach Learn Med. 2016;28(3):329‐336.

Skrabal MZ, Jones RM, Nemire RE, Boyle CJ, Assemi M, Kahaleh AA, Soltis DA, Allen RE, Hritcko PM, O'Sullivan TA, Destache CJ. National survey of volunteer pharmacy preceptors. Am J Pharm Educ. 2008;72(5):112.

Seo H, Ryu K, Lee S, Noh J, La H, Kim E. Stress, Satisfaction, and Competency of Hospital Pharmacy Preceptors under the New Pharmacy Program in South Korea. Am J Pharm Educ. 2018;82(8):6351.

Graetz KA. Chapter 6. The Psychology of Learning Environments. 2006 [cited 28/5/2020]. In: Learning Spaces. Educause. Available at: (accessed May 28, 2020).

Kaplan R, Kaplan S, Brown T. Environmental Preference: A Comparison of Four Domains of Predictors. Environ Behav. 1989;21(5):509-530.

Hynes MM, Hynes WJ. If you build it, will they come? Student preferences for Makerspace environments in higher education. Int J Technol Design Educ. 2018;28(3):867-883.

Watson MC, Jacob SA, Jebara T. Evaluation of the 2019 ACTp Pilot [Final Report]. NHS Education for Scotland 2019.

Brownfield A, Garavalia L, Gubbins PO, Ruehter V. Exploration of Methods Used by Pharmacy Professional Programs to Contract with Experiential Practice Sites. Am J Pharm Educ. 2016;80(2):26.

Assemi M, Corelli RL, Ambrose PJ. Development needs of volunteer pharmacy practice preceptors. Am J Pharm Educ. 2011;75(1):10.

Gibson M, Sullivan D, Tubbs C, Mirtallo J, Kelley K. Assessment of barriers to providing introductory pharmacy practice experiences (IPPEs) in the hospital setting. Inov Pharm. 2016;7(2):442.

Burgett NE, Dennis VC, Wideman SD, Kirkpatrick AE, Randall DL. Pharmacy preceptors' views on the value and optimal frequency of quality assurance visits to advanced pharmacy practice experience sites. Am J Pharm Educ. 2012;76(3):48.

Quality Assurance. Available at: (accessed Oct 2, 2019).

Kolb AY, Kolb DA. Learning styles and learning spaces: enhancing experiential learning in higher education. Acad Manag Learn Educ. 2005;4(2):193-212.

Tsingos C, Bosnic-Anticevich S, Smith L. Reflective practice and its implications for pharmacy education. Am J Pharm Educ. 2014;78(1):18.

Darbishire PL, Devine T, Holowatyj MR, Schmelz AN. National survey of introductory pharmacy practice experience programs. scholarship and professional work. Available at: (accessed May 28, 2020).

Kingston A, Robinson L, Booth H, Knapp M, Jagger C; MODEM project. Projections of multi-morbidity in the older population in England to 2035: estimates from the Population Ageing and Care Simulation (PACSim) model. Age Ageing. 2018;47(3):374‐380.

Burgess L. Primary Care in Scotland United Kingdom: The Scottish Parliment, 2019.

Scottish Government. Achieving Excellence in Pharmaceutical Care - A Strategy for Scotland. Available at: (accessed accessed May 28, 2020).

General Pharmaceutical Council. Tomorrow’s pharmacy team: Future standards for the initial education and training of pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy support staff. London: General Pharmaceutical Council; 2015.

Wright S. Scottish government invests £2.85m to expand experiential learning of student pharmacists to new settings. The Pharm J. March 5, 2019. Available at: (accessed May 28, 2020).

How to Cite
Jacob SA, Boyter A. Survey of undergraduates’ perceptions of experiential learning in the MPharm programme: The TELL Project. Pharm Pract (Granada) [Internet]. 2020Jun.16 [cited 2020Jul.4];18(2):1856. Available from:
Original Research