• Vol. 34 No. 8, 511–514
  • 15 September 2005

Portfolio as a Learning Tool: Students’ Perspective



Portfolio writing is a method of encouraging reflective learning among professionals. Although portfolio-based learning is popular among educators, not many studies have been done to determine students’ perceptions of portfolio as a learning tool. A questionnaire survey was conducted among 143 medical students to find out their perceptions of the portfolio as a learning tool. A majority of the students felt that the portfolio is a good learning tool. However, they also perceived that it is stressful and time-consuming to develop a proper portfolio. The study indicates that students need appropriate guidance from the academic staff for the system to succeed.

In the last decade, there have been numerous innovations in educational theory and practice. Education has moved from being a traditional teacher-centred process to one that is student-centred. Similarly, in the area of assessment, there has been a shift away from assessing knowledge towards a more competency/performance-based assessment. There is now a wide variety of methods of education and training to choose from and portfolio-based learning is an increasingly popular option among educationists.1 A portfolio is a collection of written accounts of events and activities experienced by an individual, kept in the form of a journal. The portfolio is used not only as a document of evidence but also as an effective learning tool. Portfolio-based learning is an approach firmly rooted in the principles of experiential learning,2 which is a cyclical process of recording, reviewing/reflecting and learning from events.3 It is therefore important that the portfolio does not become a mere collection of event narratives, but contains reflections on these events and the lessons learnt. Essentially, any evidence of learning is collected in the portfolio as evidence that reflective learning has taken place.4 The portfolio may also include details of learning objectives, learning resources and strategies, and how that learning might be accomplished and assessed.4 Portfolio-based learning has several advantages. It enables learners to act and learn autonomously, and allows them to assess their strengths and weaknesses. It also helps them to identify and meet their learning needs and build an education plan for the future.5,6

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