Qualitative study of the impact of an authentic electronic portfolio in undergraduate medical education

Belcher, Rosie, Jones, Anna, Smith, Laura-Jane, Vincent, Tim, Naidu, Sindhu Bhaarrati, Montgomery, Julia, Haq, Inam and Gill, Deborah (2014) Qualitative study of the impact of an authentic electronic portfolio in undergraduate medical education. BMC Medical Education, 14. p. 265. ISSN 1472-6920

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Portfolios are increasingly used in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education. Four medical schools have collaborated with an established NHS electronic portfolio provider to develop and implement an authentic professional electronic portfolio for undergraduate students. We hypothesized that using an authentic portfolio would have significant advantages for students, particularly in familiarizing them with the tool many will continue to use for years after graduation. This paper describes the early evaluation of this undergraduate portfolio at two participating medical schools.


To gather data, a questionnaire survey with extensive free text comments was used at School 1, and three focus groups were held at School 2. This paper reports thematic analysis of students’ opinions expressed in the free text comments and focus groups.


Five main themes, common across both schools were identified. These concerned the purpose, use and acceptability of the portfolio, advantages of and barriers to the use of the portfolio, and the impacts on both learning and professional identity.


An authentic portfolio mitigated some of the negative aspects of using a portfolio, and had a positive effect on students’ perception of themselves as becoming past of the profession. However, significant barriers to portfolio use remained, including a lack of understanding of the purpose of a portfolio and a perceived damaging effect on feedback.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Portfolio; Assessment; Feedback; Transition; Enculturation
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Division of Medical Education
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General) > R735 Medical education
Depositing User: Elizabeth Morris
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2015 14:16
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2017 00:59
URI: http://srodev.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/53365

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