The students in the first year undergraduate module ‘Restaurant Skills’ are exposed to the Front of House operations in the Pillars Restaurant on a weekly basis. The restaurant remains open to the paying public whilst it is used as a learning environment. Students are required to learn the necessary skills to successfully work in a live restaurant. The expectation is that they will demonstrate the social and professional skills in food and beverage operations to satisfactorily meet the needs of their customers. Whilst working in the restaurant, students are required to work safely and hygienically within an operating environment and to use a variety of specialist equipment. Due to the reflective and iterative nature of developing these skills in a live setting, the teaching team selected the completion of a reflective blog in the e-portfolio interface as part of the summative assessment. Students were able to acknowledge and develop their level of understanding concerning what they have learnt and how to improve for the next service.
The use of e-portfolios is seen as a way to capture rich ideas and to encourage creative thinking skills. The purpose of the learning blog is to enable the student to consolidate their knowledge and to reflect on their development activities within the Pillars Restaurant. The students receive training in the use of PebblePad in Week 1. A template is provided online and they are able to add their contributions on a weekly basis at a place and time to suit their commitments. This approach is seen to encourage anytime anywhere learning whereby the student reflects on the activities undertaken and reinforces their level of understanding by accessing the e-portfolio and updating their contributions in an iterative way throughout the semester. The learner is able to take ownership of the blog and to enhance it with the use of photographs, videos and links to web content. The purpose of the weekly contribution is that the learner will consider an interaction, event or episode that they have experienced in the Pillars Restaurant.