A model of engagement in reflective writing-based portfolios: Interactions between points of vulnerability and acts of adaptability
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Background: Portfolios are widely used for meeting new accreditation standards in the age of competency-based medicine. However, the method of learning through portfolio has been suggested to be vulnerable. Aim: The aim of this study was to explore conditions affecting the experience of teaching and learning from the perspective of both students and mentors in a reflective writing-based portfolio initiative. Method: Using mixed-methods rooted in grounded theory, 139 students and 13 mentors completed questionnaires, 23 students participated in four focus groups and 9 mentors in individual interviews. Results: The overarching theme in our data was student-mentor engagement. Our results confirm previous literature describing portfolio as a vulnerable method of learning, extend this concept by identifying and categorizing specific points of vulnerability, and contribute new knowledge regarding acts of adaptability, which serve to strengthen the student-mentor relationship. Conclusion: Engagement is central to the success of portfolio and is shaped by a dynamic interaction between points of vulnerability and acts of adaptability. We propose a model of engagement in portfolio that can be used for faculty development to optimize student-mentor engagement.