Publications on ePortfolio: Archives of the Research Landscape (PEARL)

The role of ePortfolios in supporting learning in eight healthcare disciplines: A scoping review


Janssens, O., Haerens, L., Valcke, M., Beeckman, D., Pype, P., & Embo, M. (2022). The role of ePortfolios in supporting learning in eight healthcare disciplines: A scoping review. Nurse Education in Practice, 63.


Aim This scoping review aims at providing a summary of available knowledge about the role of ePortfolios in scaffolding learning in eight healthcare disciplines to identify main concepts, best practices, and knowledge gaps. Background ePortfolios are well established in scaffolding learning in many healthcare disciplines. Yet, an overview of the ePortfolio literature in the context of healthcare education doesn’t exist. Design and methods A scoping review of ePortfolio use in the following healthcare disciplines was conducted: audiology, dental hygiene, midwifery, nursing (associate degree and bachelor), occupational therapy, podiatry, and speech therapy. Eight databases were systematically searched. By structuring the data, five themes were identified: (1) contexts, (2) research populations and samples, (3) ePortfolio platforms used and objectives, (4) benefits and challenges in the use of ePortfolios, and (5) recommendations derived from literature in the use of ePortfolios. The themes were further specified with sub-themes. The themes help meeting the aim of the scoping review to develop a structured overview of ePortfolio use and research. Results Thirty-seven articles were included. Samples predominantly involved students and fewer mentors, educators, and graduates. ePortfolios were used to support learning in the context of healthcare workplaces (n = 17), educational institutions (n = 14), or both (n = 6). Different objectives of ePortfolio use were derived from literature and categorized into eight themes: (1) to document and evidence competency, (2) reflection, (3) feedback and assessment, (4) (inter)professional collaboration, (5) support Continuous Professional Development, (6) bridging the gap between theory and practice, (7) employment, and (8) certification. These objectives were in turn coupled to two identified types of ePortfolio platforms: “store and communicate” and “work and learn” ePortfolios. The description of benefits and challenges formed a substantial part of the literature and data were mapped into five themes to structure the data: (1) technology, (2) collaboration, (3) competency development (before and after graduation), (4) employment, and (5) quality of patient care. Although the benefits outweighed the challenges, important challenges were identified, e.g., the high time investment required when working with an ePortfolio, low digital literacy, lack of internet access. Conclusions Studies mainly focused on perceptions (n = 32). Only a few studies explored measurable outcomes (i.e., competencies or behavioral indicators). Because ePortfolios are used by different ePortfolio users, in different contexts, and with different objectives, new research directions are needed to investigate how specific features, such as collaboration tools, feedback tools, or assessment tools can improve the role of ePortfolios in supporting healthcare education.