Evidence and examples – How can ePortfolios help achieve varied learning objectives?
Written by Jill Lyall and Rebecca Ng ANU Online
Yesterday we briefly discussed portfolio learning and its potential for a fundamental shift from traditional teaching and learning practices at universities. Now the question is: what do they look like? Today we’ll look at some examples of how ePortfolios have been used.
Which of the options below would be the most useful for your teaching practice? Select 1 or 2 of the examples for ePortfolios listed below and investigate the links and resources included. How might you apply it? Tell us about the approach to ePortfolios that would suit your discipline.
Beyond assessment: Melding learning and professional development
An ePortfolio provides a means for assessing students for their learning over an extended period of time, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, within a course (subject) or across a program (degree). It helps students bridge into the real world of work in their particular profession or industry, allowing them to showcase their achievements and self-promote in their field of endeavour. Here, ePortfolios become more than just assessments: they are part of a student’s personal and professional development.
Example 1: Capstone
Morreale et al. (2017) demonstrated how ePortfolios can be integrated into a capstone subject. The Association of American Universities (AAU) institution launched a new course to help junior (or third) year undergraduate students develop transferable higher-order thinking skills and guide them in their future educational and career endeavours. The pilot group was asked to upload examples to demonstrate achievements relating to individual learning; to complete an essay; and to summarise the impact of the course on their intellectual development. Results showed that the use of ePortfolios promoted reflective practice and improved technical skills amongst students. Instructors were also impressed by the variety of submissions and depth of narratives and insights provided by students. Overall, feedback on the use of ePortfolio in the course was overwhelmingly positive.
Example 2: Reflective essay
Originally an essay, this has been re-worked as an ePortfolio page (see screenshot to the right). It demonstrates the ease of breaking up texts with images and using HTML formatting to emphasise certain arguments. Unlike paper essays, ePortfolios provide versatility for learners to express their ideas clearly and creatively through incorporating visual cues.
Example 3: Assessment of Problem-Based Learning (PBL)
ePortfolio is an ideal tool for a program level capstone assessment but decisions such as when particular points of assessment will occur, what form they will take, how they will be graded, etc., need to be carefully considered. These issues are comprehensively covered in this excellent journal article by Maastricht University lecturers, who use a programmatic assessment approach in their PBL model, using ePortfolio.
Example 4: Addressing a standards framework
It is generally agreed that the framework for and outcomes of ePortfolio need to be clearly articulated – learning objectives, graduate outcomes, or competencies, etc. Here’s an example of how a university implemented ePortfolio around standards: Mindful Collections: Purposeful ePortfolios Planned Across an Undergraduate Degree.
Metacognition: Developing awareness of our own learning
Metacognition is the recognition and awareness of our thought process. ePortfolios can be used to develop metacognitive skills and increase students’ awareness of how they learn, their learning habits, strengths, areas for practice, and ability to analyse and assess research materials. Activities such as journaling, curation, and continuous assessment enable students to reflect on their past and present work, their learning experiences and development in their own thinking processes.
Example 5: Teaching close reading of texts
This article describes an exercise in a history course at Bronx Community College where critical understanding of texts was developed using a tool called “conversations” within the “Digication” ePortfolio platform. This tool allowed users to highlight and comment on text in a document, and to respond to comments. It was used to develop active learning, reflection, metacognition, and integrative learning.
Example 6: Reflective practice, professional development
Jill (co-author for this post) has kindly shared her portfolio assembled for the Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA) application. Here she showcases both reflection and writing to prescribed competencies through journaling and curation.
Example 7: Reflection Journals
As we discussed yesterday, ePortfolios are a great tool for students to do journalling and reflective work. For an example of how this might work, here is a series of reflection journals by students at the University of the Arts London.
Providing evidence of competency
Many professional areas in higher education now require graduates to include some form of applied, work place learning or internship as part of their tertiary education. ePortfolio is frequently used in Work Integrated Learning (WIL) programs for students to document the skills, knowledge and achievements they gain through these experiences. These are often organised to comply with a framework of outcomes specified by the accrediting body.
Example 8: Addressing key competency criteria and a CV
This is an ePortfolio from Plymouth State University which showcases how a user can address key competency criteria while creating an employer-ready CV.
ePortfolios often achieve an amalgamation of rather than individual learning objectives, that is both a success factor and challenge of ePortfolios. If integrating ePortfolio as a part of your formal assessment, especially at program level, careful thought and planning for implementing needs to be considered. These issues will be addressed in tomorrow’s post.
The following video Dr Helen Chen from Stanford University points out that one uniqueness of online portfolios is their ability to shape student’s intellectual identity – what it means to be a learner and how this knowledge guides students through their tertiary education and careers. Part of formation is led by reflective practice where students learn about their personal, academic and professional selves in the process of curation required when putting an ePortfolio together. This video is about 5 and a half minutes long.
References and Readings:
- AAEEBL (2017). AAEEBL ePortfolio Review, The Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence-Based Learning, from https://aaeebl.site-ym.com/page/AEPRIssues.
- Getman-Eraso, J. & Culkin, K. (2017). Close reading: Engaging and empowering history students through document analysis on ePortfolio, International Journal of ePortfolio, 7(1), pp. 29-42.
- Morreale, C., Van Zile-Tamsen, C., Emerson, C.A. & Herzog, M. (2017). Thinking Skills by Design: Using a Capstone ePortfolio to Promote Reflection, Critical Thinking, and Curriculum Integration, International Journal of ePortfolio, 7(1), pp. 13-28. Available: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1142743
- Munday, J. (2016). Mindful Collections: Purposeful ePortfolios Planned across an Undergraduate Degree, in pp. 117-134 ePortfolios in Australian Universities, Rowley, J. (ed). Singapore: Springer.
- Van der Vleuten, C.P.M., Schuwirthm L.W.T., Driessen, D.T., Baartman, L.K.J. & Van Tartwijk, J. (2012). A model for programmatic assessment fit for purpose, Journal of Medical Teacher, 34 (3), pp. 205-214.
- Van Staden, C. (2016). A Learning-oriented framework for integrating ePortfolios in a post-graduate module in distance education, The AAEEBL EPortfolio Review, 1(1), pp. 36-53.