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.