Lecturers' and students' perceptions of portfolios in an English School of Nursing



Publication Details

Williams, G. A., Park, J. R., Traynor, V., Nairn, S., O''Brien, E., Chapple, M. & Johnson, S. (2009). Lecturers'' and students'' perceptions of portfolios in an English School of Nursing. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 18 (8), 1113-1122.


Aims. This study was aimed at comparing perceptions of portfolios between student nurses at the early and latter stages of their training and how they compare with their lecturers’ perceptions. Background. Portfolios are used widely in nurse education. There has been research into how portfolios are perceived and understood, but there is little evidence into how student nurses and lecturers compare quantitatively in perceptions of portfolio use. Design. Survey. Method. Forty-eight nursing lecturers and 413 nursing students, from a multi-centred School of Nursing in the UK, completed a questionnaire. Data were analysed with exploratory factor analysis, varimax rotation of the factor solution, internal consistency analysis, and analysis of variance. Results. Five factors were extracted, which were labelled: (1) portfolios as a means of skills acquisition, (2) other means of teaching and learning beyond using portfolios, (3) processes of showing the portfolio to others, (4) having favourable attitudes towards portfolios and (5) lecturers’ ability to share knowledge about portfolios. Scales developed from these five factors had high levels of internal consistency. Lecturers were the most positive of the three respondent groups in their views of portfolios, whereas third- and fourth-year students were the least positive. There were significant differences between student nurses and their lecturers, concerning how information on portfolios is communicated by the lecturer. Conclusion. There were significant discrepancies between lecturers and student nurses in their views on how portfolios are used. The value of portfolios becomes less salient to student nurses towards the end of their training. Relevance to clinical practice. Lecturers and clinical mentors need to look at students’ perceptions and why some nursing students’ views on portfolios deteriorate. There could be regular discussions with students to see how and why the students begin to see portfolios as less useful for their education and continual professional development.

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