ABSTRACT Background: Learning portfolios are increasingly being introduced in higher education including undergraduate and postgraduate medical education. Due to their highly personalized nature, creation of an assessment tool that accurately reflects the value for the learner of the ‘work’ created is challenging, and has prevented a more widespread use of this valuable tool. Innovation & Evaluation: Forty-one physical therapy students were asked to create a learning portfolio as a component of their pathology course. This collection of evidence of learning was evaluated at the midterm and final examination by a synchronous tripod of assessors-the ‘self’, a peer, and the instructor- to provide a formative and summative evaluation. Results: Grades awarded by the three assessors were more similar at the end of the semester when compared with those at the midterm. A quantitative and qualitative satisfaction questionnaire was additionally given to students to determine the usefulness of this educational activity. Though the majority of students responded favourably, with notable self-reported improvements in communication, team-work, and professional growth, primary challenges included negative perceptions related to increased time commitment, student and teacher-related stress, and uncertainty regarding the value and the immediate and long-term relevance of this creative learning activity. Conclusion: Reflection on our study authenticates that the combination of formative and summative evaluations from such tripod assessments of learning portfolios is particularly suited for explicit inclusion in higher educational programs including medicine and allied health professionals. We recommend learning portfolios as a creative learning tool and assessment tool in higher education.
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