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Med Educ. 2009 Jan;43(1):89-98. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2008.03250.x.

Student perceptions of a portfolio assessment process.

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  • 1Centre for Medical Education, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK.



The objectives of this study were to identify and analyse students' attitudes to the portfolio assessment process over time.


A questionnaire containing statements and open questions was used to obtain feedback from students at the University of Dundee Medical School, Scotland. The responses to each statement were compared over 4 years (1999, 2000, 2002 and 2003).


Response rates were 83% in 1999, 70% in 2000, 89% in 2002 and 88% in 2003. A major finding is that students perceived that portfolio building heightened their understanding of the exit learning outcomes and enabled reflection on their work. Student reactions to the portfolio process were initially negative, although they appreciated that senior staff took time to become familiar with their work through reviewing their portfolios. Student attitudes became more positive over the 4 years as the process evolved. Although portfolio assessment was recognised as supporting student learning, portfolio building was perceived to interfere with clinical learning as a result of the excessive amounts of paper evidence required.


Paperwork should be kept within manageable limits. A student induction process that highlights the importance of providing evidence for achieving all learning outcomes, not just theoretical knowledge and skills, may be helpful in allaying student concern over portfolio building and assessment and support preparation for lifelong learning and reflective clinical practice.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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