January 26, 2010, by Teaching at Nottingham

Portfolio compilation: evidencing learning and professional development

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Alison: “I think portfolios are getting increasingly important. They seem to underpin a lot of professional education as a strategy, or a tool, for assessing, formatively, or summatively, students’ progress. And the NMC requires it, that’s the Nursing and Midwifery Council, once you’re qualified, that you could be asked to submit one every three years to prove that you’ve kept yourself up to date.

“So they need to know the elements of how to prove their growth and development and that their practice is up to date so that’s what their portfolio is about, what have they seen, what have they done, what have they learned? Show it to me.

“So I think, for me, the simple model of What? What’s happened? What have I done today? Then, So what? Is it meaningful? Can I make it meaningful? Actually think critically about it. What were the elements involved? Was my practice good? Could I do better? And then, the And so? Yes, I’ll stay the same because I think it’s a good way of going about things, or I need to move on. It’s sort of very simple frameworks for students.”

Jo: “I’ve been able to look at what I’ve done, sort of like, how I’ve been with a patient, what’s happened and to analyse it and understand, sort of like, what evidence I can get out of being with that patient.”

Learning set

Alison: “What would you – what would be your first piece of portfolio evidence that you could do just this week?”
Jo: “Probably a reflective piece, is that what you mean?”
Alison: “Have you got any reasons for choosing reflection as a sort of – ooh, end of pen – as a sort of, your first choice?”
Jo: “Well I’d firstly, start because it focuses on the event and what your role was and what you observed. And then it looks at, sort of, at how I was feeling, you know, going into a patient’s home, observing a patient talk about his event and then how the Nurse, you know, discussed it with him and asked him questions and things”

Alison: “Now, is there any evidence you could collect from that that you could put into your portfolio? What kind of evidence would you want that you’ve done it, other than reflective writing?”
Jo: “A witness statement from …” 
Annie. “Yeah, witness statement.”
Alison: “Yeah, okay. So now we’ve got witness statement, so now you’ve got reflective writing, and a witness statement and you’ve got some updated notes about the, sort of, social and psychological issues patients will encounter. I knew there was something, a word I’d missed there. So we’ll just put psychological there.”

Annie: “You could get some research on why the different drugs are useful, ’cause they go on Clopidrogel for a year. And there’s certainly some research about why they use certain drugs for a specific amount of time.”
Alison: “So you’ve got some information, so – and this is a bit like working backwards, the introduction to your portfolio is, before I came to this placement I knew what I felt I could do. I had some information that I realised was still relevant. While I was on the placement I looked at nursing, the nursing of people who needed rehabilitation after a cardiac event and I’ve got one, two, three, four, five pieces of evidence to show for it.”
Jo: “Yeah. Great.”


Jo: “From where I was in the first year, I now have more of an understanding of what a portfolio is, what we need to make a portfolio, the kinds of evidence we’re looking for. Whether it is just an observation and then a reflective or whether it is a practical skill that you’ve done and then, you know, looked at referencing for evidence and things like that, so, yes. It seemed, it’s a definitely a skill, learning.”

Annie Byng, Alison Clark & Jo-anne Fisher
School of Nursing, Midwifery & Physiotherapy

Extracts from meetings between student nurses, their professional mentors and an academic, and interviews with the participants, produced as part of a CEPPL funded project on placement learning.
This article was originally published as part of PESL’s Teaching at Nottingham collection. Produced January 2010.

Posted in EmployabilityePortfoliosPlacements and work based learning