A Higher Education Action Research Study on the Effectiveness of an ePortfolio as a Learning Tool to Promote Reflective Professional Development
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Within higher education, ePortfolios have been demonstrated to enhance professional development and to promote critical thinking. In this context, one higher education level nine module, namely, the Professional Development Framework Portfolio module, was analysed. The module was piloted during the 2019-2020 academic year in one Irish Institute of Technology. It was intentionally designed to align with the Professional Development Framework promoted by the Irish National Forum for the Enhancement for Teaching and Learning. The primary aim of this study was to explore the effectiveness of an ePortfolio as a learning tool for professional development, in the context of the module’s delivery. An action research methodology was employed. Data collection tools and processes included a learner-questionnaire, an ePortfolio mapping analysis, and a dialogical reflection on the part of two lecturer-researchers. Salient findings were that the use of ePortfolios for the purpose of professional development in higher education was evidenced, and the effectiveness of ePortfolios to facilitate the mapping of professional development was established. The main recommendations to enhance this module for future action research iterations included: 1) to facilitate deeper reflection on personal professional development goals, 2) to support reflective practice and reflective writing skills, and 3) to provide a pre-module workshop on ePortfolio web development prior to module commencement. More broadly, it was also recommended to revisit the time demands of the module and to research the extent to which the module might effectively promote a sustainable professional development community of practice framed around ePortfolio development.
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