Creating a psychiatric mental health portfolio: An assignment that works
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Creating lively, engaging and reflection-oriented assignments for learners is an important area of focus for educators. The Center for Nursing and Health Studies at Athabasca University in Canada offers a program for Licensed Practical Nurses to earn a Bachelor of Nursing degree from their home communities both virtually through online course delivery and in-person through attending clinical placements. This article provides a description of one novel assignment, the construction of a portfolio, which is completed during a course in psychiatric mental health. Students work on the assignment both online and as a member of a clinical learning group. The four portfolio artifacts include, first, learners examine the incidence and prevalence of mental health issues in their own community. Second, they explore nursing and psychological theorists. Third, they analyze a referral instrument relevant to their current or future practice noting author, reliability and validity. Fourth, they construct two inpatient case studies in collaboration with the mental health team. Insights into the experiences students found engaging and difficult as they completed the assignment are discussed and practical suggestions for designing portfolio learning activities are offered.