Catalyst for Learning: ePortfolios and the Future of Higher Education
Randy Bass, PhD
Vice Provost for Education, Professor of English, Georgetown University
This presentation focused on the role of ePortfolios in shaping higher education in a period of transformation. Universities now exist as part of a larger learning ecology that is ubiquitous, social, and blurs the boundaries of formal and informal learning. What difference does ePortfolio make in this new ecology? And what does it take for ePortfolio to make a difference? In particular, the presentation will focus on the findings from the Connect to Learning (C2L) project, a national consortium of 23 campuses helping to create a developmental model for ePortfolios and the ways their effective implementation can catalyze change on campuses, while at the same time improving student success (retention, graduation) and deepening their learning. Ultimately effective ePortfolio initiatives require an eco-systemic approach, focusing on multiple levels of institutional life, from classrooms to departments and other institutional structures. Find out how Loyola’s ePortfolio program serves as this form of High Impact Learning.
How are ePortfolios used?
ePortfolios for Students
ePortfolios can be a powerful catalyst for integrative learning and holistic development as well as a tool for self-branding and professional development. ePortfolios can:
- Encourage engagement in active reflection and meaning-making
- Foster reflection on the principles central to an academic discipline and the university as a whole
- Facilitate the integration of topics and themes across disciplines and over time
- Provide a forum to synthesize work and share that work with others
- Contribute to holistic development in multiple ways, including: personal development, academic development, and career development
- Provide a resource for demonstrating skills, abilities, and experiences in the job-search process
ePortfolios for Faculty/Staff
ePortfolios can foster and provide evidence of student learning across all curricular, co-curricular, and institution-wide outcomes. ePortfolios enhance learning and provide opportunities for assessment of learning in the following ways:
- Represent multiple learning styles, modes of accomplishment, and quality of work accomplished by students
- Provide structure around clear expectations and articulated goals
- Offer the potential for progressive formative assessments that foster improvement while learning is still in process
- Encourage reflection on learning as well as personal goal-setting and future planning
- Facilitate program and institutional review through sampling and aggregation of data from individual student portfolios [Adapted from www.aacu.org/value]
ePortfolios for Assessment
ePortfolios can be a powerful tool for assessment and evaluation. By establishing a set of criteria and evidence each student is required to submit, a department can measure what concepts students have mastered and where they are falling short of departmental standards. ePortfolios can be used as formative assessment (throughout a student’s course of study) and a summative evaluation (at the end of the standard degree program).
ePortfolio assessment has additional advantages over other modes of evaluation in that students often have the opportunity to select what they feel is their best representative work. With the ability to include multiple formats, including multimedia, ePortfolios address multiple learning styles and provide a medium in which students can get instructive feedback that informs them of their strengths and deficits; this feedback can be based on an established measure, called a rubric, that provides specific information on a student’s performance. One frequent ePortfolio assignment involves having students reflect on their learning, on their co-curricular activities and other events that impact their experience in their discipline, the university community and the world.
For more information and support on how to use ePortfolio technology for program-wide assessment of learning outcomes and standards, contact the Faculty Center for Ignatian Pedagogy.