1 Syddansk Forskningscenter for Klinisk Sygepleje (SFKS), Department of Clinical Research, Det Sundhedsvidenskabelige Fakultet, SDU2 Department for the Study of Culture, Faculty of Humanities, SDU3 Medier, Department for the Study of Culture, Faculty of Humanities, SDU4 Department of Clinical Research, Det Sundhedsvidenskabelige Fakultet, SDU5 Syddansk Forskningscenter for Klinisk Sygepleje (SFKS), Department of Clinical Research, Det Sundhedsvidenskabelige Fakultet, SDU6 Medier, Department for the Study of Culture, Faculty of Humanities, SDU7 Department of Clinical Research, Det Sundhedsvidenskabelige Fakultet, SDU
Background Examination of the literature shows both advantages and disadvantages in implementing ePortfolio and learning styles in Nursing Education. The students reflect on nursing practice as well as on their strengths and weaknesses, and reflecting in the portfolio increases self-awareness, personal and professional growth and critical thinking. Main barriers are concerning difficulties gaining access to computers and internet, lack of guidance in using ePortfolio, working with ePortfolio is time-consuming and risk to be given a higher priority than learning the practical craft of nursing in clinical settings. Insight into preferred learning style can be an advantage to both students and preceptors in attempt to promote students´ learning potential, but there are quite many different theoretical approaches and definitions of the concept, and reviewers call attention to the risk that teachers label students as certain types of learners and thereby reduce them to stereotypes. It is well known that learning takes place in different ways, and students having a gift for writing enjoy using portfolio, but some students do not. Therefore, the School of Nursing, VIA University College, DK wanted to intensify the differentiated guidance of students, and developed an ePortfolio which aim to facilitate four learning styles as described by Honey and Mumford. It was tested in a pilot project and now, a qualitative study of how learning is mediated in clinical education through this ePortfolio is passing off. Purpose The purpose of the study is to investigate the learning potentials of the ePortfolio in the clinical part of the Nursing Education, including to investigate how it is employed and whether it makes any difference to integrate a learning style approach in the ePortfolio. Design The study is qualitative with a phenomenological-hermeneutic design inspired by the French Philosopher Ricoeur´s theory about narrative and interpretation. Setting and participants The setting is a clinical course where first-year students are trainees in three hospitals and a nursing home. To attain an impression of the students´ preferred learning style 40 students answered a 40-question survey inspired of the survey of Honey and Mumford. Then they were divided into four subgroups of those with an activist, reflector, theorist, or pragmatic preferred learning style. From each group students were randomly assigned and eleven students were included. Method Data are generated through ethnographic fieldwork and comes from participant observations, narrative interviews, and portfolio documents. The data analysis includes three levels: naive reading, structural analysis and critical interpretation and discussion. Results The preliminary results about how the ePortfolio is employed in clinical settings show, that it is used intentional in different ways, and that the potentials of the ePortfolio are not fully made use of. Some students use ePortfolio as a diary. Some use it weekly to plan and evaluate their learning. Some use it to manage feelings as frustration and insecurity. Some use a pedagogical tool in order to learn via reflective writing related to a competence or goal. We found no signs of ePortfolio been given a higher priority than learning practice, as described in an earlier study. The students work with ePortfolio at home or in the ward to make use of waiting time, while patients are resting. When used for a longer space of time in the ward it is in co-operation with the preceptor planning the learning process of next week. The ePortfolio contains a mandatory study plan, and there is a potential for making more individual plans, as the pedagogical tools are seldom mentioned in the plans. These tools are meant to facilitate different ways of learning, and often the students need guiding to choose a tool suitable for the purpose. When used the tools seem to support learning. The study uncovers motivation and barriers for using ePortfolio. Students use ePortfolio, if they think it helps them to learn, if they get feedback from the preceptors, or if the preceptors ask them to. The barriers seem to be related to the students´ attitude: If they think working with ePortfolio is less important than other tasks, if they don´t expect to learn by using it, or if they feel vulnerable to preceptors reading their reflections. Perspective The final results will be published in international journals. The study will be finished in July, 2014.