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 Table of Contents  
BRIEF COMMUNICATION
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 32  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 75-78

Evaluation of the educator's portfolio as a tool for self-reflection: Faculty perceptions


1 Department of Prosthodontics, VSPM Dental College, Nagpur, Maharashtra, India
2 Department of Biochemistry, NKPSIMS, Nagpur, Maharashtra, India
3 Department of Prosthodontics, VSPMDCRC, Nagpur, Maharashtra, India
4 Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, VSPMDCRC, Nagpur, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication18-Nov-2019

Correspondence Address:
Saee Deshpande
Department of Prosthodontics, VSPM Dental College, Nagpur - 440 019, Maharashtra
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/efh.EfH_277_17

  Abstract 


Background: Preparing a teaching portfolio to document educational expertise has shown to be useful for both promotion and to stimulate faculty development. This article describes a study of the effectiveness of the Educator's Portfolio (EP) as a stimulus for faculty reflection about educational practice. Methods: A sensitizing session of thirty faculty from medical, dental, and physiotherapy colleges on the same campus was conducted; faculty members were asked to complete and submit their EPs. Out of 30 members, 25 responded (83%). Semi-structured interviews of 25 faculties who prepared EPs were conducted, and a qualitative content analysis of the resulting protocols was completed to determine how the EP development process had promoted their reflection on education. Results: All the 25 faculty members indicated that reflection about education had occurred. Four categories of reflection emerged, namely, (a) lack of understanding regarding how to categorize their work; (b) lack of evidence of the effectiveness of educational activities; (c) reformulating educational practice; and (d) source of motivation and self-regulation. Discussion: The findings indicate that EP preparation serves as a tool for reflection on educational practice, which promotes faculty development.

Keywords: Educator's Portfolio, faculty development, reflective learning


How to cite this article:
Deshpande S, Chari S, Radke U, Karemore T. Evaluation of the educator's portfolio as a tool for self-reflection: Faculty perceptions. Educ Health 2019;32:75-8

How to cite this URL:
Deshpande S, Chari S, Radke U, Karemore T. Evaluation of the educator's portfolio as a tool for self-reflection: Faculty perceptions. Educ Health [serial online] 2019 [cited 2019 Dec 16];32:75-8. Available from: http://www.educationforhealth.net/text.asp?2019/32/2/75/271197




  Background Top


The Educator's Portfolio (EP) is a dynamic record of faculty teaching scholarship and its effectiveness. It depicts educators' work areas, efforts in that area, and progress over a period of time. Conventionally, a curriculum vita (CV) is used as a record for all academic, clinical, and other professional activities. However, with increasing emphasis on teaching as an area of scholarship, the CV has its limitations. In addition, EP has been implemented at various well-known institutes for faculty promotions and as a valid document to reflect faculty academic expertise.[1],[2]

The current study was aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of the EP as a stimulus for faculty reflection about educational practice.


  Methods Top


This study was approved by the institutional ethics committee of the college. An informed consent was taken from all participants to use the material for research purposes. Privacy and anonymity was maintained while analyzing results and reporting the findings.

The study sample consisted of all faculty from medical, dental, and physiotherapy colleges of a private medical institution. The total sample size was 30 (10 each from medical, dental, and physiotherapy). Participation was voluntary.

Module delivery used a blended approach as follows:

  1. Face-to-face interaction: 90 min
  2. Online discussion using Google Group: one week
  3. Face-to-face problem-solving sessions: 30 min
  4. Semi-structured interviews: 60 min.


Face-to-face interaction: A 1-day workshop was conducted as a sensitizing session consisting of an introductory PowerPoint presentation and small-group activities followed by a facilitated large-group discussion to allow the participants to explore what constitutes an EP and how this can be used for professional progress as a medical teacher. Contents of the sessions were adopted from previous published studies and included the following:

  • Define and understand the concept of EP
  • Compare EP with traditional CV use and understand advantages, and
  • Elaborate the process of completing EP with examples.[3],[4]


The format for EP was “This Educator Portfolio” template, created by the Academy of Master Teachers at the University of Texas Medical Branch.[5],[6] It was circulated among participating faculty who were asked to submit the EP after careful consideration in a week's time. Sections of the EP were as follows:

  • Teaching
  • Assessment
  • Mentoring
  • Advising
  • Enduring educational material
  • Educational leadership.


Further, each section was subdivided into:

  • Philosophy
  • Goals
  • Activities
  • Indicators of quality accomplishments and evidence of impact created
  • Dissemination.


Online discussion: To facilitate the completion of EP, online support was provided using Google Group to answer any queries regarding filling out the details. A sample EP was also shared.

Face-to-face problem-solving session: As many participants conveyed difficulties in understanding the section on teaching philosophy, it was discussed in details and resources were shared.

Semi-structured interviews: Interviews with faculty who prepared EPs were conducted. In the present study, an author with previous experience of conducting such interviews and handling qualitative research, working as an associate professor at the present institute where the study was carried out, and not involved in the study as an investigator conducted the interviews. Interviews were preceded by observation and informal and unstructured interviewing to develop a keen understanding of the topic of interest necessary for developing relevant and meaningful semi-structured questions. The purpose of interview, permission to audiotape, and the conversation and procedure for data analysis were communicated to the participants. Interviews were carried out face to face with one respondent at a time.

The interview guide consisted of four questions, and their associated follow-up probes were generated based on the work of Beecher et al.[7] The following questions guided the data analysis and categorization: whether there was understanding of the concept of EP and its significance in the faculty member's context; Was the process easy, and if not, what difficulties were faced; Did the act of conducting an EP encourage reflection on activities as a medical teacher; and What kind of change did this exercise affect in professional roles and responsibilities as a medical educator.

The data were audio-taped and also notes were made. On an average, one interview lasted for 60 min, and data saturation was discussed. Repeat interviews were not carried out. Data were transcribed. The interviewer performed an iterative review of interview transcript to develop a deeper understanding of what respondents described in the interviews. Things that recur across the interviews, the ones that surprised the interviewer, etc., were noted. Preliminary codes were assigned in order to describe the content. Themes were defined, reviewed, and reported. Patterns or themes in codes across the different interviews were searched. A qualitative content analysis of the transcripts was also conducted to determine if and how the EP development process had, overall, promoted faculty member reflection on education.


  Results Top


The following four categories of reflection which were overlapping and nonsequential emerged from the analysis of transcribed interviews:

First, lack of understanding regarding how to categorize work was an issue. Almost all participants had difficulties in understanding how to differentiate the work they were doing into the various categories of EP template created by the Academy of Master Teachers at the University of Texas Medical Branch. One participant mentioned “I have never thought about my teaching philosophy.” This was echoed by almost all of the other participants.

Second, lack of evidence of the effectiveness of educational activities also emerged as a theme. It came as a surprise that although all participants were engaged in some educational projects, there was no valid or substantiating evidence for efforts. Very few faculties had been maintaining records and feedback regarding their work in a consistent manner. One participant's reaction is particularly worth mentioning: “I advise many students, but never take a feedback or a follow up to determine whether my advice has been implemented and worked for the students.”

Third, reformulating educational practice: the participants mentioned that in future they wish to be more attentive as to what they can do differently in order to get better results even in day-to-day activities.

Fourth, source of motivation and self-regulation: -majority of the participants said that after filling their EPs, they have now acquired a different perspective to look at their work. One of the participants said “I now understand the meaning of scholarship in everyday activities as a medical educator and this will enable me to become more successful in my career,” another one mentioned that “EP will now serve as a constant reminder on the areas where in should focus in future.”


  Discussion Top


Medical education has evolved rapidly over the past few decades. This is evident by the increased number of conference presentations and publications, along with other research projects. Now, there are many international universities providing courses for developing skills as a medical educator. The role of medical educator not only entails teaching but encompasses many different categories such as assessment, curriculum planning, educational research, interprofessional education, leadership, and others.[1],[2] The educational literature has explored a theoretical foundation for using portfolios at many levels (e.g., student learning and professional development and promotion). The recent literature shows that many universities and colleges are making educational portfolios part of their faculty as well as students' assessment.[8] Most of the focus in a typical CV is devoted to research and service to the institution with minimal evidence of the role as a teacher and related accomplishments. A small section in the CV on education has now transformed as a separate educational portfolio.

However, there is no consensus on the ideal structure of EP. Various studies have used different formats. In our study, we used a format created by the Academy of Master Teachers at the University of Texas Medical Branch. The main aim was introducing the concept, and not the specific details of every faculty. Therefore, a more concise and precise format was selected over long and tedious formats.

In our country, apart from teachers' training workshops, which are mandatory by the regulatory authority, there are very few advanced centers such as the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research-Regional centers that provide advanced courses in teaching technology. In such a situation, motivating faculty to understand knowledge and practice gaps in medical education, identify training opportunities, and develop competency is very challenging. Even for those who are consciously developing their career in medical education, it is imperative to have a tool that will both reflect the current status and provide directions for further growth. EP preparation can help medical educators for this purpose by facilitating self-reflection as it is a long and thoughtful process involving careful consideration of ones' work and relevant accomplishments. It has been shown to be an effective way to stimulate faculty development through self-motivation in earlier studies.

In our analysis, it was evident from the faculty interviews that they were familiar with the CV and unaware of the concept of EP, finding it difficult to initially complete the form. The sections in EP were easy to understand, but the subcategories of their role and how they assess and disseminate their effectiveness in respective roles as an educator need to be elaborated on with more examples.

After another problem-solving session with faculty, they were able to complete most of the EP pro forma. However, when it came to showcase the evidence of each activity, there were numerous problems, for example, faculty had not kept any record of student and peer feedback over the years as well as records on remedial actions. Overall, it appeared that efforts were made but not documented and therefore had little credibility.

However, all participants mentioned that this concept of EP and the process of completing it promoted self-reflection on educational practices. It was reported that the process provided a new perspective of looking at work and will definitely promote self-motivation, self-monitoring of progress, and, ultimately, development as an educator. These findings are consistent with those of previous studies[8],[9] where authors observed EP to be effective in stimulating self-reflection among faculty.


  Conclusion Top


The portfolio is intended to be a complete account of teachers' thoughts, actions, and success. It is dynamic in nature and undergoes constant makeover in career development and evaluation.

A small sample size and single-center nature are the main limitations of this study. However, it can stimulate and provide direction for professional development, and is a rich source for personal reflection and learning.

The authors suggest that EP should be implemented in all health-care institutes as a tool for self-reflection and faculty development. In addition, adequate training should be provided to the faculty regarding completing EPs; it should be considered for recruitment as well as promotions in teaching institutions.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Lamki N, Marchand M. The medical educator teaching portfolio: Its compilation and potential utility. Sultan Qaboos Univ Med J 2006;6:7-12.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Reece SM, Pearce CW, Melillo KD, Beaudry M. The faculty portfolio: Documenting the scholarship of teaching. J Prof Nurs 2001;17:180-6.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Dalton CL, Wilson A, Agius S. Twelve tips on how to compile a medical educator's portfolio. Med Teach 2018;40:140-5.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Medina MS, Draugalis JR. Writing a teaching philosophy: An evidence-based approach. Am J Health Syst Pharm 2013;70:191-3.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Niebuhr V, Johnson R, Mendias E, Rath L, Sandor K, Szauter K. Educator portfolios. Med EdPORTAL 2013;9:9355. Available from: https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9355. [Last accessed on 2016 Jun 20].  Back to cited text no. 5
    
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Simpson D, Marcdante K, Fenzel J. The educator's portfolio & curriculum vitae-Workshop & resource guide. MedEdPORTAL 2007; Available from: http://services.aamc.org/30/mededportal/servlet/s/segment/mededportal/?subid=677. [Last accessed on 2016 Jul 12].  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Beecher A, Lindemann JC, Morzinski JA, Simpson DE. Use of the educator's portfolio to stimulate reflective practice among medical educators. Teach Learn Med 1997;9:56-9.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Lewis KO, Baker RC. The development of an electronic educational portfolio: An outline for medical education professionals. Teach Learn Med 2007;19:139-47.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Simpson D, Fincher RM, Hafler JP, Irby DM, Richards BF, Rosenfeld GC, et al. Advancing educators and education by defining the components and evidence associated with educational scholarship. Med Educ 2007;41:1002-9.  Back to cited text no. 9
    




 

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