The University of British Columbia Faculty of Dentistry developed a longitudinal curriculum pilot project to assess the usefulness of portfolios for dental students to develop reflective skills and demonstrate competency development, and to examine relationships between portfolio grades and clinical success.
Materials and Methods
Students in one dental class created portfolios with reflections on examples relevant to eight selected competency statements each year of the program. As part of our program evaluation, we set out to look at trends in portfolio grades, meta-reflection skills, student and faculty views of the project, and relationships among portfolio grades, 4th year clinical grades and faculty rankings.
Portfolio grades improved from years 1 to 3, dropping off slightly in year 4. The highest level of internal consistency for grades within and between years occurred with Competency 42, while the lowest level occurred with Competency 4. Most students were able to demonstrate meta-reflection by 4th year. Students generally agreed with portfolios and reflection in concept, but suggested a looser structure, and they shared concerns with faculty about the workload involved. Portfolio grades did not correlate with clinical course grades (P = 0.092), but they did correlate significantly with faculty rankings except for year 1.
While portfolio grades for reflections were not consistent, and they did not quite correlate with clinical course grades, they correlated strongly with faculty rankings. Future use of portfolios at UBC Dentistry will be enhanced by increasing curricular support regarding both competency development and the importance of reflection for professionals, decreasing workload by focusing on five Key Competencies, incorporating more formative and face-to-face feedback, and providing greater opportunities for peer sharing.