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Just how much of an impact can ePortfolios have on nursing practitioners and the institutions that develop these professionals?

Lillian Rafeldt is the professor of nursing at Three Rivers Community College, and she joined Digication Scholars Conversations to talk about how ePortfolios can enhance the way nursing is taught and provide students with a richer, more impactful learning experience that goes beyond their time in college.

The Necessity of Reflective Learning in Nursing


Given the impact that the nursing practice can have on individual health and society, it follows that the more institutions can equip their nursing practitioners to be holistically capable and effective in their profession, the more communities they serve stand to benefit.

Reflective learning practices are not just useful but necessary; the argument can be made — 

“as you develop as a registered nurse, and… as you continue [your] practice, you reflect on your day, you reflect on incidents, and it's through that reflection, feedback, searching the literature, and consulting with others that you grow,” Lillian says.

She explains how reflecting on their experiences can help them gain deeper insight into certain aspects of their learning that they otherwise wouldn’t have noticed, and these can help them develop a more well-rounded understanding of how to put what they learn into practice as professionals.

Students are asked to reflect on what elements of their learning – such as specific courses or parts of their learning experiences – mean to them as it relates to their studying to become a nurse and making connections between the knowledge they accrue, their experiences, what they do in practice, and how they want to develop over time, to highlight a few things.

Facilitating Mentorship and Supporting Peer Groups

The benefits of reflective learning practices extend beyond just the individual — Lillian recounts how peer groups and situations where mentoring occurs began to form organically as they implemented ePortfolios to facilitate reflective learning at Three Rivers.  It has been well received, and the results have been positive; they want to continue implementing this across a broader range of situations. 

“For the most part, they work together in the course, right? Because we are on campus together… there's that initial in-person connection," Lillian said. “And this type of mentoring [that I just described] is new, so it should continue across the semesters.”

Lillian also shared how graduates have been brought back to share insights on matters such as testing, studying, and getting ready for courses as a way of mentoring current students. They had alumni from diverse backgrounds return and create videos that would impart useful experiences and informational nuggets to those currently going through the program.

ePortfolios Amplify Learning and Empower Nursing Students, Faculty, and Institutions

They have also been able to use nursing portfolios to foster mentoring in ways that might not have been possible without the technology. Peers not only have a means of capturing information but can easily add meaningful context to individuals and groups. They can create shared learning resources and wells of knowledge that can help them concentrate knowledge that can remain useful throughout their student careers and for the institutions they work with when they go into professional practice.

This also exemplifies the development of professionalism and collaboration, which Lillian says are key elements of effective nurse practitioners.

As for the nursing portfolios, individuals can craft multiple versions of their ePortfolios to suit specific purposes and audiences. They can take their existing knowledge, experiences, and artifacts and create digital portfolios for academic assessment or perhaps to showcase their professional values to meet a specific institution’s needs once they launch themselves into the professional stage of their nursing careers.

“It's important for the students to be able to have all of that evidence of what they did while they were a student — [it’s] something that they can continue to hold on to and that they can continue to go back in and refine and share as they need to… [it’s] something that will be valuable for students after graduation as well.”

Want to hear more from Lillian about how they enhanced the academic experience by implementing ePortfolios at Three Rivers Community College?

Get the details on how Lillian and Three Rivers used ePortfolios to empower nursing students to get more out of their learning careers and beyond, how to stimulate deep discussions between peers to enhance learning experiences, how reflective learning and digital portfolios can help practitioners find meaning and purpose, and more — listen to the full episode here.

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