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Using Portfolios to Assess Professional Competence and Development in Medical Laboratory Sciences



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Portfolios have been recommended for the appraisal of professional development. To excite battle and assess professional development during research lab preparation, portfolio appraisal was proposed for the concluding twelvemonth BMLS and DMLT programmes in Kampala International University.

Work Done

The pupils undergoing clinical research lab preparation in learning infirmaries, and engaged in everyday research lab services under supervising of qualified Medical Laboratory Scientists, composed a portfolio detailing their day-to-day experiences, work done, and lessons learned. Their supervisors and facilitators provided day-to-day feedback and endorsed their entries. The portfolios were examined at the terminal of preparation by module staff and external tester through unwritten presentation and interviews. Rating rubric considered quality of presentation, portfolio content, presentation of progressive development, and ability to do professional judgement. Students ' and assessors ' credence of this instrument was determined with questionnaire.


72 % of the pupils and assessors accepted the method. Many pupils reported that it improved committedness to preparation, encouraged contemplation, and allowed for frequent feedback. Many believed that it was a rational appraisal, but it was clip devouring. 88 % of the participants would welcome it as a addendum to the criterion trials.


The portfolio appraisal was good accepted, rational, and provided a valid appraisal of pupil battle and patterned advance during professional preparation.

Take Home Message

The inclusion of portfolio appraisal in Medical Laboratory Sciences Education provided valid appraisal of pupils ' battle in preparation and professional development over clip.


The usage of portfolios in wellness professions instruction has increased dramatically over the old ages. The enthusiastic credence of this rule is in portion born out of the of all time turning involvement in results based instruction in all divisions of wellness science.1 The course of study of most wellness scientific disciplines schools now emphasize reliable experiences, promote self way and contemplation in acquisition, and results based appraisal. Portfolios non merely stimulate professional development and brooding acquisition, they besides provide chance for self way, and avenues for feedback from faculty.2, 3 Portfolios have been recommended for the appraisal of professional development in medical education,4 and several studies document their successful usage in appraisal of competency at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.5,6 To excite battle and to measure professional development during clinical research lab preparation, portfolio development and appraisal was proposed for the concluding twelvemonth Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Sciences and the Diploma in Medical Laboratory Technology pupils of the Kampala International University, Uganda in 2008. This article reports the experience of the usage of portfolios to measure professional development in these programmes.


Institutional blessing for the survey was obtained from the IREC. Eighteen concluding twelvemonth pupils who were undergoing clinical research lab preparation in the instruction infirmaries at the Kampala International University Teaching Hospital Ishaka and the Mulago Hospital in Kampala and take parting in everyday day-to-day research lab work were requested to compose and keep a portfolio consisting inside informations of their day-to-day experiences, work done and lessons learnt during their preparation. Their supervisors and programme facilitators provided day-to-day feedback on their work and endorsed all entries. At the terminal of their clinical research lab preparation, the portfolios were examined by the four module staff and an external tester. The pupils were besides required to do a 15 proceedingss presentation based on the portfolio content, and take interview on lessons learned and overall impact of the preparation on their development. A evaluation rubric used for the appraisal considered the quality of pupil 's presentation, portfolio content, presentation of pupil 's progressive development over clip, and their ability to do professional judgement. Questionnaires were used to find the pupils ' and raters ' positions on the acceptableness, convenience, and utility of this method of appraisal. The informations were analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively.

Table 1: Rubric for the appraisal of the pupils ' portfolios

Standard met

Standard non met


Presentation was complete in 15 proceedingss


Quality of presentation


Student showed progressive development over clip


Student reflected on experiences and could do good professional judgement


Portfolio content was equal


Overall appraisal

Base on balls


General remarks:


The consequence showed that 70 two per cent ( 72 % ) of the pupils and assessors accepted the method as a valid and effectual agencies of measuring professional competency. Many pupils ( 15 of the 18 ) reported that it improved their committedness to the research lab preparation, and encouraged them to reflect on their day-to-day experiences. Both module and pupils reported that it allowed for frequent feedback and more battle in the programme. Many believed that it was a rational appraisal as it captured development over clip, but it was clip consuming and rather tasking on both pupils and staff. Eighty eight per cent ( 88 % ) were of the position that it should be a addendum and non a replacement for the standard written and practical trials.


The development of portfolio as a tool for the appraisal of professional competency and development offers several advantages over the traditional criterion trials which to a big extent are reductionist and do non capture patterned advance over clip. Application of portfolio appraisal in Medical Laboratory Sciences instruction is non widespread and merely few studies are available in literature.7 This survey demonstrated that portfolio development and appraisal is good accepted by both staff and pupils in the medical research lab scientific disciplines programme of the Kampala International University. An of import facet of medical instruction is the matching of assessment methods with larning manner, as assessment thrusts larning. Portfolio appraisal aligns good with competence based instruction whose dogmas include learner centeredness, formative feedback, developmental procedure, contemplation, and multiple types and beginnings of assessment.3 This survey demonstrated this clearly as it promoted pupil /staff battle in the clinical research lab preparation programme, pupils ' ownership of their preparation, and reflective acquisition which are some of the advantages highlighted by similar old studies of the usage of portfolio in other programmes.8, 9

The survey besides showed that many of the survey participants would non welcome this signifier of appraisal as the lone manner of pupil appraisal. Rather it would be a valuable add-on to the traditional methods of appraisal of competency. The restrictions of this survey include the little sample size used for the survey. It is recommended that a larger sample of pupils be included in a more luxuriant survey perchance over a longer study period. To ease the load of appraisal, utilizing structured interview to measure the portfolio as recommended by Burch and Seggie 10 could be helpful.


The usage of portfolios to measure pupils ' advancement and professional competency in Medical Laboratory Sciences is a welcome proposition. It should be used to supplement the criterion written and practical trials. Its advantages include stimulation of pupil battle, self way, brooding acquisition, and monitoring of advancement over clip. It is nevertheless seen to be clip devouring for the pupils. Its debut extends the methods of appraisal in Medical Laboratory Sciences.


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2. Driessen, E. , Van Tartwijk, J. , Overeem, K. , et Al. Conditionss for successful brooding usage of portfolios in undergraduate medical education.Medical Education 2005 ; 39:1230 -1235

3. Carraccio C. Portfolio Assessment: The Key to Learner Centered-Education. Downloaded from: hypertext transfer protocol: // % 20R3P % 20Group % 20Plenary.ppt. Accessed 13/01/2010.

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5. McCready T. Portfolios and the appraisal of competency in nursing: A literature reappraisal. International Journal of Nursing Studies 2007 ; 44 ( 1 ) :143-151

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7. Thom & A ; eacute ; G, Hovenberg H, Edgren G. Portfolio as a method for uninterrupted appraisal in an undergraduate wellness instruction programme. Medical Teacher 2006 ; 28 ( 6 ) : e171-e176

8. Lim J L K, Chan N F, Cheong P Y. Experience with portfolio-based acquisition in household medical specialty for maestro of medical specialty grade. Singapore Med J 1998 ; 39 ( 12 ) : 543 - 546

9. Hadfield I, Murdoch G, Smithers J, Vaioleti L, Patterson H. Is a professional portfolio, as a record of continued professional development, the most effectual method to measure a physical therapist 's competency? New Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy 2007, 35 ( 2 ) :72-83.

10. Burch VC, Seggie JL. Use of a structured interview to measure portfolio-based acquisition. Medical Education 2008 ; 42 ( 9 ) : 894-900

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