Educational portfolios have been used across a variety of disciplines in university education as means of encouraging reflective practice in students and as a form of assessment by which a cumulative record of the student's experience can be substantiated. More recently, the development of ePortfolios has provided the potential to transform portfolio learning for students in the 21st century.
Development of a pilot ePortfolio for the Bachelor of Midwifery at the University of South Australia (UniSA).
This study adopted an action research methodology and followed the action research cycle of planning, action, observation and reflection in order to develop, implement and evaluate a pilot ePortfolio. An action research group was established to develop the ePortfolio.
Once the ePortfolio was developed, it was piloted with 18 first year midwifery students undertaking their second clinical placement. Eleven students provided feedback by completing an anonymous electronic questionnaire and, of these, eight also participated in interviews.
One of the overriding findings from this project is that midwifery students studying at UniSA consider the portfolio, in any form, a valuable record of their experience. It provides students with an authentic record of achievement, proof of their competency and a final summary of their learning journey. A number of issues with paper-based portfolios were identified; essentially students found that they were confusing at first, cumbersome and created anxiety but that they provided a tangible means of consolidating their learning experiences. With regards to the ePortfolio, students agreed that it seemed more simple, streamline and safe, but there were a number of suggestions for improvement put forward.
The paper concludes that ePortfolio is considered ‘the way of the future’ for midwifery students, however a number of issues must be addressed through further collaboration prior to replacing the paper-based ePortfolio.