Can ePortfolios assist university students' work integrated learning? exploring professional competencies in nursing and construction management
Williams, A, Levett-Jones, T, Lynn, T, Sher, W, Simmons, CA, Gu, N & Bowen, L 2010, 'Can ePortfolios assist university students' work integrated learning? exploring professional competencies in nursing and construction management', Proceedings of the ePortfolios Australia Conference 2010: widening participation- engaging the learner, Melbourne, Vic., 3-4 November, eLearning services, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD, pp. 188-199.
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E-learning has increasingly come to the fore as a means to enhance students’ learning, and in particular, learning in the work place. Relevant professional bodies require Nursing and Construction Management (CM) university students to engage in practical/clinical placement experiences as part of their required activities. This paper explores whether ePortfolios have a significant role to play in demonstrating and improving students’ skills learnt from these practical placements in relation to their undergraduate studies. A recently awarded Australian Learning and Teaching Council project entitled ‘Facilitating work integrated learning through skills-enabled e-portfolios in the CM and Nursing disciplines’ conducted at the University of Newcastle investigates students’ work-based learning and assessment within the two disciplines. The project’s main aim is to develop a learning framework that will showcase to students how their university courses relate to each other and how the skills and competencies they acquire on campus and during their workbased experiences are integrated to enable them to graduate as qualified professionals in their discipline. A component of the project aims to explore whether ePortfolio platforms and e-learning technologies can both facilitate and support students’ learning engagement with their work integrated learning through the demonstration of these skills. Derived from the outcomes of the project’s initial phase, this paper presents the development of a learning framework that encourages reflective learning during work-based activities. It then sets out to explain how this framework can be linked to the use of ePortfolios. The process of creating the framework has so far involved an analysis of competencies from different accreditation bodies resulting in a hierarchy of skill sets within these competencies. It then analyses how different ePortfolios platforms could be used as a reflective online tool for students to help them link the knowledge learnt from their placement practices with the theoretical concepts learnt at university 189 (Levett-Jones, Fahey, Parsons, & Mitchell, 2006). Consequently, students could use their ePortfolio after graduating to demonstrate the practical experiences they have gained during their degree which would contribute to improving their professional skills in their respective fields. Further literature on students’ use of ePortfolios will be taken into account to demonstrate students own views of using ePortfolios for work based learning. In conclusion, the paper will examine how work based competencies can be documented and demonstrated through ePortfolios to enhance students work integrated learning.