Undergraduate medical students' views about a reflective portfolio assessment of their communication skills learning

Charlotte Rees, Charlotte Sheard
Medical Education 2004, 38 (2): 125-8

INTRODUCTION: To date, no studies have examined preclinical medical students' views about portfolios. Since portfolios are becoming increasingly valued in medical education, this study explores second-year medical students' views about a reflective portfolio assessment of their communication skills.

METHODS: 178 second-year medical students at the University of Nottingham completed the 18-item reflective portfolio questionnaire (RPQ) (alpha = 0.716) and a personal details questionnaire three days before submitting their portfolio assessment for communication skills. Data were analysed using univariate and multivariate statistics on SPSS Version 10.0.

RESULTS: Total scores on the RPQ ranged from 40 to 75 (mean 58.28, SD 7.08). Significant relationships existed between RPQ total scores and students' ratings of their reflection skills (rs = 0.322, P < 0.001), RPQ total scores and students' confidence building another portfolio (T = 4.381, d.f. = 176, P < 0.001), and RPQ total scores and students' marks for their reflective portfolio assessment (rs = 0.167, P = 0.029). Students with more positive views about reflective portfolios were more likely to rate their reflection skills as good, receive better marks for their portfolio assessment, and be more confident building another portfolio.

DISCUSSION: This study begins to highlight preclinical medical students' views about reflective portfolios. However, further research is required using qualitative studies to explore students' views in depth. Medical educators should be encouraged to consider introducing portfolios as a method of formative and summative assessment earlier in the medical curriculum.

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