Self‐reflection is a fundamental part of health professional development, especially in the unstructured clinical stage of dentistry, medical and health profession education, since it plays important role in experiential learning. A portfolio—both conventional and digital—records various aspects of knowledge, skills and attitudes over a long period of time to help students develop their professionalism by conducting self‐reflection. This study aims to explore the process of selecting and reflecting on professionalism evidence recorded in e‐portfolios during undergraduate clinical dentistry training.
This pilot study is a qualitative study with a phenomenological design. The selection of respondents was conducted using a maximum variety sampling method. Following a 6‐week pilot programme, a total of six in‐depth interviews and five focus group discussions were conducted with undergraduate students representing different clinical rotations to explore the process conducted by undergraduate clinical dentistry students in e‐portfolio development. The study of documents was also conducted on the respondents' reflective writing from the e‐portfolio back‐end data to explore their self‐reflection skills.
The results of the present study highlighted two different approaches used amongst trainees in developing a reflective e‐portfolio: selective and non‐selective. The observed reflective e‐portfolio utilisation frequency and trainees' self‐reflection skills were low, with several affecting factors identified. These identified factors consisted of external factors, such as the undergraduate clinical dentistry programme curriculum, the hidden curriculum, the availability of feedback, the availability of role models, and features of the e‐portfolio and internal factors, such as understanding the self‐reflection concept, the availability of time and mood, cultural factors, and understanding the content reflected.
Through the process of independently selecting and recording learning activities in e‐portfolios as well as repeatedly conducting self‐reflection, trainees can improve their overall reflective abilities. However, producing a systematic approach to forming a reflective learning environment is necessary to aid the implementation of reflective e‐portfolios, especially at the early stage of e‐portfolio implementation.