Portfolio Synthesis Paper In Nursing Essay
Portfolio Synthesis Paper
Nursing school has been a journey where I have done and learned new things. It hasn’t always been easy for me during these last few years in nursing, but I pushed myself to do my best and get the most out of my education. There is a lot to reflect on as there has been many different things that I have experienced that have shaped the nursing student I am today. I took the process of being in nursing school step by step and building up my confidence each step of the way. With this portfolio synthesis, I will reflect on how I met the program outcomes in my nursing education and reflect on the artifacts that embodied my accomplishments in the nursing program.Portfolio Synthesis Paper In Nursing Essay
Lived Experiences as a Grand View Nursing Student
Many of the experiences I’ve had as a nursing student connect with each of the program outcomes. Each semester, projects, assignments, and presentations have expanded my knowledge in nursing and reflected the outcomes of the program. Reading and reflecting on my artifacts for the program outcomes, has helped me see how I have grown as a nursing students. The way I used to write evidence-based papers are very different from the ones I’ve written in NURS 450 during my final semester. Each artifact is evidence of my growth, as they demonstrate my growth with critical thinking when researching nursing evidence, especially now with our policy paper. My knowledge has grown and with my portfolio of artifacts I will be able to demonstrate how each my nursing courses have supported me with this growth.
Valuing Lifelong Learning
Throughout my journey through nursing school, I have learned and experienced valuable things as a nursing student.
Thomas Edison State College
W. Cary Edwards School of Nursing
The following is a list of tips to assist you in writing your Synthesis Paper. We hope that these
tips are helpful to you.
1. Grammar and writing style are the main reasons student papers require revision. Before you
submit the paper, please make every effort to review your paper carefully. Having someone
else read your paper for understanding, grammar, content, etc. is very helpful to your success.
2. Use common, every day language to eliminate confusion in your writing. Avoid using fancy
words, jargon, and acronyms.
3. Use active voice in your writing. For example,
“I was remembering my first nursing position…” is passive voice.
The better way to write this sentence is in active voice.
“I remember my first nursing position.”
4. When possible, avoid the use of negative language. For example, revise
“She is not often disagreeable.”Portfolio Synthesis Paper In Nursing Essay
“She is often agreeable.”
5. Parallelism: When using conjunctions (and, but, or, nor) to express a coordinating idea be sure
that the words are parallel before and after the conjunctions. For example, it is correct to write
“The student expressed that she had completed her assignment and that she was pleased
with the outcome.”
It is incorrect to write
“The student expressed that she had completed her assignment and she was pleased
with the outcome.”
6. Use verb tense agreement, pronoun agreement, and plural or single agreement in the same
sentence. For example, for pronoun agreement
“The student supported the policy, which they proposed.”
“The student supported the policy, which he/she proposed.”
“The students supported the policy, which they proposed.”
7. Introductory prepositional phrases require commas at the end of the phrases. For example,
“After reading for three hours, the student finished the assignment.”
-Nursing/MSN Synthesis Paper & e-Folio: Tips: 11.28.12: Rev 3.17.14
8. APA format uses a comma before “and” or “or” in a series of three or more.
“The mentor uses tests, observations, and oral presentations to grade student
work in the course.”
“Students may choose to do a PowerPoint, oral, or written presentation for the
9. When using a plural abbreviation, do not use an apostrophe. The apostrophe denotes
possessive form. RNs is the plural form…RN’s or RNs’ is the possessive. For example
“The RNs’ patient trust scores were highest for the pediatric unit.”
vs.Portfolio Synthesis Paper In Nursing Essay
“The trust scores for RNs on the pediatric unit were the highest.”
10. Avoid a succession of loose, rambling sentences and/or multiple clause sentences. Remember
clarity in written communication is important.
11. References cited in the body of your paper must also be included on the reference list at the
end of your document. The converse is also true, that is, when you cite a reference in the
reference list, you must have cited content from that reference in the body of the paper.
12. Use the most current APA manual to assure accuracy/consistency throughout your paper.
When you cut and paste a reference from a paper you completed in 2008, you must revise the
reference to meet the recommended format from the 2010 APA manual. Every reference on
the reference page must demonstrate use of the appropriate format.
13. Use a grammar text to assure grammar. A suggested online text is
Strunk, W. (1999). Elements of style (3rd ed.). New York: MacMillan Publishing Company
retrieved from http://www.bartleby.com/141/
To access to the book online use the URL http://www.bartleby.com/141/
When you access the site, go to the table of contents, which is hyper-linked to topics. Click
on the topic of interest to review the information you are interested in acquiring.
14. When referencing a course assignment to document an outcome and/or a competency, use
either italics for the assignment title or another way to identify the assignment.
15. When referencing a course assignment in your paper, make sure the title of the assignment
you reference has the same title as the assignment in your portfolio. The mentor who grades
your paper is required to validate that all assignments referenced in your paper are included
in your e-Portfolio under the appropriate MSN outcome.
16. Critical reflection is important to a successful synthesis paper. Do not simply list what you
did to meet the outcome. Critically reflect on how each assignment demonstrates the Portfolio Synthesis Paper In Nursing Essay
achievement of the outcome or competency you addressed. What did you learn, and how did
the learning experience/assignment influence your practice.
17. Do not copy and paste your documentation of achievement from one outcome or competency
to another outcome and/or competency. When using the same assignment to document any
outcome achievement, your discussion should uniquely explain why the evidence supports
that outcome and/or competency. For example, to document your achievement of ethical
behavior, you might use learning assignments from NUR 710: Testing, Assessment, and
Evaluation, NUR 530: Evidence-Based Nursing Practice; NUR 730: Nursing Education
Seminar and Onground Practicum, etc. However, each assignment must present with a
different concept/statement, which specifically identifies why the selected assignment
documents achievement of a MSN outcome or competency. While you may use the same
assignment to meet a different MSN outcome and/or competency, you must provide a
unique explanation to document how you achieved each outcome and competency.
18. Avoid redundancies. Critically reflect on all courses taken and use different examples to
document your achievement of each outcome and competency. For example, do not use the
same assignment multiple times to meet different outcomes. Assignments in most courses
meet multiple outcomes. Vary your choice of assignments across program outcomes and
competencies. Make sure the examples that you use are in your e-Portfolio.
19. When you document an outcome using an assignment from a transferred course, please
identify that the assignment came from the transferred course, the name of the course, and
the name of the course it replaced in the MSN program.
20. You may use a short title heading for each MSN outcome and competency if the number of
the outcome is present with the short title.
21. When you cite a course one to three times in the paper, only write the course name (NUR530: Evidence-based Nursing Practice). If you plan to cite the course more than three times
in your paper, the first time you cite the course write the number in parentheses after the full
name, for example, NUR-530: Evidence-based Nursing Practice (NUR-530). Thereafter,
when referring to the course, use only the numeric form (NUR-530).
22. The mentor grading your paper needs to toggle between your paper and your portfolio to
validate that you included the assignment cited. All assignments referenced in the
Synthesis Paper must correspond to the assignments in your e-Portfolio.
23. Update your resume/curriculum vita to reflect your academic, specialty area, and
professional achievements while in the MSN program.
24. Remember you are responsible for reviewing and revising your final paper before
resubmitting it to the e-Portfolio, that is, the Synthesis Paper in the e-Portfolio should be
the final paper and should replace any paper previously submitted to the e-Portfolio.Portfolio Synthesis Paper In Nursing Essay
25. You are required to mail a corrected hard copy and a flash drive or CD of your Synthesis
Paper by regular US Mail; however, you do not need to send the paper by special delivery.
Send your paper to the address below.
Thomas Edison State College
W. Cary Edwards School of Nursing
ATTN: Nina Keats, RN, BSN, CSN
101 West State Street
Trenton, NJ 08608-1176
APA Format Tips
26. APA does not use “Introduction” as a heading on the first page of a formal paper. Place the
title of the paper on the first page, and follow the title with .an opening paragraph that
identifies the purpose of the paper. See APA manual page 27
27. In APA format, express numbers 10 and above as numerals; express numbers nine and
below as words. See APA manual pages111-113 for more information on numbers.
28. When using abbreviations, spell out the term followed by the abbreviation in parentheses, the
first time you use it, even for commonly used terms, for example, intravenous (IV). See APA
manual pages 106-111.
29. Do not use an abbreviation if, in the paper, you only use the term three times or less. (See
APA manual page 107.
30. Avoid the use of slang. If you use slang, use quotation marks the first time the word or
phrase is used; thereafter, do not use quotation marks. See APA manual page 91.
31. See page 99 of the APA manual for information on prefixes that do not require hyphens.
32. See page 102 in APA manual, regarding capitalization of drug names.
33. See page 62 of APA manual regarding information on headings.
34. See page 109 of APA manual for common abbreviations for units of measurement.
35. See page 96 in the APA manual regarding spelling of the possessive of a singular name.
36. See page 175 of the APA manual for citing one work by multiple authors.
37. See pages 170-172 in the APA manual for citation of direct quotes.
38. See page 184 in APA manual for citing full name of a group author
Use of writing portfolios for interdisciplinary assessment of critical thinking outcomes of
By: Jeanne M Sorrell, Hazel N Brown, Mary Cipriano Silva, and Eileen M Kohlenberg
Sorrell, J. M., Brown, H. N., Silva, M.C., & Kohlenberg, E.M. (1997). Use of writing portfolios
for interdisciplinary assessment of critical thinking outcomes of nursing students,
Nursing Forum, 32(4), 12-24.Portfolio Synthesis Paper In Nursing Essay
Made available courtesy of Blackwell Publishing. The definitive version is available at
***Note: Figures may be missing from this format of the document
This article discusses an interdisciplinary research project in which faculty from nursing and
english collaborated in the assessment of students’ critical thinking skills as reflected in writing
portfolios. Faculty reviewed students’ writing portfolios and then corresponded on email from
two different universities about evidence of critical thinking in the portfolios. Findings suggest
that writing portfolios can provide important evidence of critical thinking outcomes. To do this,
however, faculty need to design writing assignments to foster critical thinking skills, helping
students to think not only about learning to write, but also about using writing to learn.
Nurse educators are increasingly aware of the need for students to develop critical thinking skills
to apply in today’s complex healthcare environment. This need, supported by the National
League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) and other accrediting agencies, is
reflected in the growing number of articles in the nursing literature related to strategies for
enhancing students’ critical thinking skills (Baker, 1996; Beeken, Dale, Enos, & Yarbrough,
1997; Facione & Facione, 1996; Koch & Speers, 1997; Parse, 1996; Tanner, 1996).
It is important, however, for nurse educators not only to foster the development of critical
thinking skills, but also to determine effective ways to assess them as outcomes (Parse, 1996;
Rane-Szostak & Robertson, 1996). This process of assessment and documentation of critical
thinking outcomes has received little emphasis in nursing literature (Colucciello, 1997; Dexter et
al., 1997; van der Vleuten & Newble, 1995). The use of standardized instruments such as the
California Critical Thinking Test or the Watson-Glasser Critical Thinking Test (O’Sullivan,
Blevins-Stephens, Smith, & Vaughan-Wrobel, 1997) is not always desirable. Although some
programs have explored the use of student writing portfolios as a means of assessing learning
outcomes related to critical thinking (Cayne, 1995; Cleary, 1993; Facione & Facione, 1996;
Jensen & Saylor, 1994; Lashley & Wittstadt, 1993; O’Sullivan, Blevins-Stephens, Smith, &
Vaughan-Wrobel, 1997; Rane-Syostak, 1996; Ryan & Carlton, 1997), little formal research of
this method has been done in nursing.
This article describes a collaborative research project between faculty at two large state
universities and two disciplines — nursing and English – to assess the effectiveness of writing
portfolios in providing evidence of nursing students’ critical thinking skills. Data reported here
are part of a larger study focusing on how both written communication and critical thinking skills
are assessed as outcomes in writing portfolios. This article, however, focuses only on the
outcomes related to critical thinking.
Framework for Study
This study was conceptualized within a Writing to Learn framework that was first suggested by
Emig (1983) in her research on the composing processes of high school students. Emig
concluded that in the process of writing, connections are made between the hand, eye, and brain
that can lead to new insights and facilitate learning. Other researchers in composition have
expanded our understanding of the thinking processes inherent in the process of writing, so that
writing becomes a valuable tool for learning, as well as for communication (Fulwiler, 1982;
Howard & Barton, 1986; Thaiss, 1991; Young, 1997). Thus, teachers in all disciplines may need
to view writing not only as a finished product with appropriate style, grammar, and spelling, but
also as a process that can help students to make important connections between ideas.
Research in composition has provided insights for educators into use of the writing process as a
teaching strategy for helping students to think critically Thus, educators should focus not only on
helping students learn to write, but also on using writing to learn. Beyer (1987) stated that in the
critical thinking process, a student should show evidence of the ability to: 1) translate data, 2)
classify it and compare it to other data, and 3) infer a generalization about the unique feature(s)
of a particular subject or phenomenon.
Unfortunately, written assignments for students often are not designed to reflect the critical
thinking process. Beyer (1987) pointed out that most forms of testing and assignments, even
essays, are designed to assess students’ learning of the subject matter, not to assess critical
thinking skills. Assignments often are evaluated on information given as evidence to support a
claim (including the kinds, amounts, accuracy, and relevance of this information), the number
and kinds of sources cited, and the number and accuracy of the specific facts given.Portfolio Synthesis Paper In Nursing Essay These
evaluation criteria do not reflect an awareness of critical thinking processes. Instead, they send a
message to students that it is the final product that is important — facts and generalizations —
rather than the process of thinking they should use in arriving at conclusions.
Britton (1975) noted in his research that most writing that students do in the classroom is formal
and scientific, a type of writing he termed transactional. A reliance on transactional writing
shows limited understanding of how language relates to the thinking process. Britton noted the
need for students to explore expressive writing, which is a type of writing often written to
oneself or to a trusted person, such as in diaries, journals, letters, or first-draft papers. Fulwiler
(1982) described expressive writing as the type of writing that is most personal and closest to the
thinking process itself. Research has demonstrated that expressive writing is crucial for trying
out and coming to terms with new ideas (Baker, 1996; Britton; Thaiss, 1991; Young, 1997).
In summary, if writing assignments are to be used as evidence of critical thinking, it is important
that assignments are designed not only to help students “learn to write” but also to help them
“write to learn.” The process of writing offers an important opportunity for students to connect
ideas from internal and external sources, critically think about the ideas, and then infer a
generalization that gives the separate pieces of information a coherent verbal shape. It was this
conceptualization of writing as a complex process (not product) that led the researchers to study
how writing portfolios could be used to provide evidence that students were using critical
thinking in their learning about nursing. Thus, the question for this research study was: How are
nursing students’ critical thinking skills reflected as outcomes in writing portfolios?
To answer the research question, two nursing professors and one English professor at each of
two universities (six professors) collaborated in the assessment of writing portfolios. Both
English professors had considerable experience in assessment of student portfolios, whereas
nursing faculty had limited experience in this activity. Each of the six professors read and
evaluated eight students’ portfolios for evidence of critical thinking outcomes and then
participated in a two week e-mail dialogue about their assessment process and findings. Because
researchers were interested in the types of written assignments and evidence of critical thinking
at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, portfolios of two undergraduate and two graduate
nursing students at each of the two universities were assessed.
Sample and Data Collection
One researcher at each of the two universities asked nursing faculty to recommend students who
were good, but not necessarily outstanding writers; the first four students recommended at each
university were selected as participants. The study was approved by appropriate university
research committees and each student was asked to sign an informed consent before participating
in the study Students were offered a choice of a book or a small monetary honorarium in
appreciation for their participation in the study
Each student was asked to select four pieces of writing from cumulative nursing classroom or
clinical assignments that demonstrated critical thinking skills. Critical thinking skills were
purposely not defined for the students, so that in the selection of writing assignments, they would
be free to apply their own assumptions related to what constituted critical thinking. No
restrictions were placed on the number of assignments that could be selected from a specific
In using writing to document outcomes related to critical thinking, Facione and Facione (1996)
suggest that the writing should provide evidence related to the process of thought, as well as to
synthesis of thought. Therefore, in an attempt to shed light on the thinking process engaged in by
students in this study, each student was asked to write a reflective essay, writing for one hour to
reflect on how the selected pieces demonstrated critical thinking skills. The portfolio was
comprised of the reflective essay and the four pieces of writing.
Copies of the eight portfolios, along with the Critical Thinking Skills Evaluation Instrument
(Table 1), were given to each of the six participating professors. This instrument, developed by
nursing faculty at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, was used previously to
evaluate outcomes related to critical thinking in graduate students, with interrater reliability
established at 95% (Kohlenberg, 1995). For this study, professors reviewed the eight portfolios
and rated each student’s critical thinking skills along the five-point Likert scale for each of the
five categories on the instrument. Then, a two-week e-mail dialogue among the professors was
held. After completion of the dialogue, comments were printed out for analysis. Portfolio Synthesis Paper In Nursing Essay
Quantitative and/or qualitative data for analysis came from three sources: (1) the Critical
Thinking Skills Evaluation Instrument; (2) writing portfolios; and (3) the e-mail dialogue. Scores
and comments related to outcomes identified from the Critical Thinking Skills Evaluation
Instrument were summarized. Content analysis of students’ reflective essays in the writing
portfolios was carried out to identify students’ perceptions of how critical thinking outcomes
were reflected in their writing. Also, the various types of assignments selected by the students for
inclusion in the portfolio were categorized. Finally, qualitative data from the e-mail dialogue
about writings in the portfolio were summarized to identify professors’ perceptions of how the
portfolios reflected critical thinking outcomes for the students. Portfolio Synthesis Paper In Nursing Essay
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