Rationale: Reflective portfolios have been widely trailed in vocational programmes for health sciences education. While not raised explicitly yet, there is recognition that an essential part of a portfolio may still be missing - that is the experience of theoretical and analytic questioning that should occur after reflection. Aims and objectives: In this paper, we argue that portfolios require both reflective and reasoned components to provide a more complete range of educational experiences for postgraduate doctors in the pursuit of higher qualifications. Methods: We describe the differentiating features between the two components and conclude with some suggestions on how both reflective and reasoned components of portfolios may work synergistically through a series of case studies. Results: The reflective style of portfolio, which is in current use, has been widely accepted as a major advance in postgraduate medical education at all levels. It provides an effective vehicle for encouraging self-consideration and generalizability. It is an important adjunct where it functions as a personal development tool as well as a sophisticated log book. A reasoned or pedagogic element encourages more analytic activities: adding an additional component that can ground the portfolio in theory or research. The portfolio is then able to function in a range of academic spheres and provide a theoretical platform for the wide range of non-clinical empirical work undertaken in clinical settings. The addition of a reasoned component also increases the emphasis on the introduction of new concepts outside the sphere of the learner's experience. Conclusions: A portfolio containing both reflective and reasoned components is then able to function in a range of academic spheres and provide a theoretical platform for the wide range of non-clinical empirical work undertaken in clinical settings. In an iterative mode, such a portfolio element can support a forum for questioning established concepts within a pedagogical environment - the essence of evidence-based practice.
- Postgraduate medical education