Head To Head

Are learning portfolios worth the effort? No

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39541.449306.AD (Published 11 July 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a514
  1. Geoff Norman, professor
  1. 1MDCL 3519, McMaster University, 1200 Main St W, Hamilton, ON, Canada 8N 3Z5
  1. norman{at}mcmaster.ca

    Portfolios were introduced with the aim of improving the learning and assessment of doctors. Erik Driessen (doi: 10.1136/bmj.39540.415822.AD) believes that they work well when used correctly, but Geoff Norman remains unconvinced

    Learning portfolios, defined by one group as “a collection of a learner’s work that gives evidence of learning and may be used for the purposes of assessment”1 have received increased attention of educators over the past few years. According to a systematic review by Driessen and colleagues, they have the potential to improve formative and summative assessment at all levels from undergraduate to post-professional education.2 The learning portfolio is not just another learning or assessment method. It is really a Jack of all trades, appearing in multiple guises to do almost anything we demand of it for learners at any level from novice to expert. It is an opportunity for students to report on “work done, feedback received, progress made and plans for improving competence.”2

    How can it adopt so many roles? Simply …

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