E-portfolios: Lessons from an interdisciplinary collaboration. The School of Nursing and Midwifery experience
Mather, C, E-portfolios: Lessons from an interdisciplinary collaboration. The School of Nursing and Midwifery experience, EDULEARN11 Proceedings CD, 4-6 July 2011, Barcelona, Spain EJ ISBN 9788461504411 (2011) [Refereed Conference Paper]
Three schools within the Faculty of Health Science at the University of Tasmania, Australia took part in
an interdisciplinary academic collaboration with the aim to develop, implement and evaluate the eportfolio
experience of undergraduate nursing, medicine and pharmacy students. The Centre for the
Advancement of Learning and Teaching, the University’s teaching and learning facilitator, was a key
player in the andragogical integration of the e-portfolio into a demonstration unit within the Bachelor of
Nursing program. PebblePad was the e-portfolio application that was used to support learning and
teaching (L&T) activities associated with the project.
A cohort of over 500 students and 8 staff on four campuses in two states of Australia piloted use of the
tool whilst undertaking work integrated learning during 2010. Both staff and students were new to the
use of e-portfolios so simplicity was paramount. Multiple L&T approaches were employed to ensure
students and staff were well supported in their use of the new technology.
The development of reflective practice is part of each discipline’s expected student learning outcomes.
Reflective practice linked to professional competencies has historically underpinned assessment and
the PebblePad application offered a new way to encourage and assess this competency. Reflection is
one of the strengths of the design of the PebblePad e-portfolio that is embedded into its design,
making it a valuable tool for use with students. The tool also facilitated the integration of knowledge
and skills, and provided opportunities for interaction peer-to-peer and between staff and students. The
use of PebblePad was an innovation for achieving these L&T outcomes. Additionally, the collaborators
recognised there was a need for access to comprehensive resources and support for students and
staff with an aim of developing a community of practice beyond the project leaders.
E-portfolios have a further benefit as students may use them to showcase evidence of their
capabilities to teachers, prospective employers and other interested parties. The use of an e-portfolio
may enhance the development and evidence of life-long learning for the future and assist with meeting
the newly introduced national requirements for annual professional registration for nursing, medical
and pharmacy practitioners in Australia.
The key findings of the evaluation provided valuable lessons for others planning to embed the use of
digital technology into their curricula. Positive findings included students enjoying using the blog tool
for reflection; feeling more connected to their peers; and enhancing their integration of knowledge and
skills. The most significant weakness of the implementation methodology was timing. The time frame
for introducing the new technology was considered too short; staff and students needed to feel
comfortable using the technology before using it for assessment purposes; and sufficient training for
staff and students was required. In addition to discussing the findings, this paper will reflect on the
other advantages of collaborative cross-discipline effort in each of the Schools of Nursing, Medicine
and Pharmacy at a regional university when integrating new technology into the learning and teaching
Refereed Conference Paper
e-portfolio, interdisciplinary, nursing, learning and teaching, undergraduate students