Dew, Niall Charles (2017) The Social Construction of Knowledge in Healthcare Students' Electronic Portfolios. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This thesis set out to describe how electronic portfolios support the social construction of
knowledge by healthcare students. It will do this by drawing on the various forms and functions of the students’ electronic portfolios', their associated socially constructive processes and artefacts, and healthcare students’ views on how electronic portfolios are used on their courses. These factors are also considered alongside the impact of the sociohistorical and socio technical developments of electronic portfolios and healthcare course requirements.

A broad grounded theory approach was used to generate substantive theory grounded in data gathered from a sample of UK and North American students (n=82). Data was gathered through an analysis of electronic portfolios (n=25), an online questionnaire (n=52), and in-depth interviews with students (n=16).

The research found a limited number of socially constructive processes and artefacts that
are used within healthcare courses. These processes and artefacts supported the social
construction of knowledge within the students’ electronic portfolios.
Even though healthcare students were not at ease with the limitations of their electronic
portfolios they found that the pedagogical use of the electronic portfolio defined the range
and extent of the learning they were required to demonstrate.
A range of factors, internal and external to the electronic portfolio, determined the use of
the electronic portfolios. This included the student’s confidence with using technology, the
requirements of the professional bodies and the healthcare courses that incorporated them,
and the skills of academics in using the electronic portfolios.
The students found the electronic portfolios format allowed them to use a wider range of
digital artefacts (i.e. images, video and audio) that were not available in paper portfolios.
They also thought the integration of the Internet into their electronic portfolios meant that
their portfolio was safe in a digital cloud based repository.
The research found that despite the widespread use of Web 2.0 by most of the students in
their personal lives, this was not incorporated into students’ electronic portfolios. This
appears to be because of the lack of Web 2.0 functionality in the electronic portfolio
software, and the lack of Web 2.0 knowledge in those implementing the electronic portfolios
in the healthcare courses.
This impact of limited processes and artefacts, and failure to use the potential of the
Internet and Web 2.0 has a negative impact on the students’ abilities to socially construct
their knowledge within electronic portfolios.

Recommendations are made that future research identifies additional developments in
software and hardware that can increase the socially constructive processes and artefacts
that are incorporated into electronic portfolios. These developments must be done by
consulting student users, software developers, educational technicians and academics.
Finally, recommendations are made that the theory generated in the research is applied to
larger samples across a wider range of healthcare student professions. The ongoing
research will ensure that the theory continues to respond to ongoing hardware and software
developments within the socio-historical and socio-technical student environment.

FINAL THESIS - Dew.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (2MB) | Preview


Downloads per month over past year

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email