Attachment: Activities and Programmatic Purposes Often Supported with ePortfolios

Handbook and Other Materials l Asking the Right Questions (ARQ) l Training, Consulting, & External EvaluationFAQ

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1. Select Activities l 2. What other ingredients needed?  l 3. Monitor Activities l 4. Debug Activities l 5. Diagnose Barriers to Participation l 6. Control Costs l SummaryAttachment: List of Activities l
Part II: Using Student Feedback to Improve ePortfolio Activities l Flashlight Evaluation Handbook Table of Contents

Revised May 5, 2008

As this chapter has described, the first step toward ePortfolio success is to focus on activities:

  1. the component activities of the ePortfolio as well as
  2. the larger activities of which the ePortfolio is to be a component.

It should be obvious now that all of these activities can be carried out without ePortfolios (let alone ePortfolio software); ePortfolios are of value when they enable the activities to be carried out in different and better ways.

Different activities require different ingredients for success, and software is rarely the most expensive, time-consuming or difficult.  If you are planning an ePortfolio application or initiative, we suggest you identify a few activities such as those listed below, and make them the focus of your plans and formative evaluation. 

Later in this attachment, we will describe a few of the ingredients for success of each activity. Then, for several of these activities, we include a draft diagnostic survey that academic staff could use to guide and enhance that particular activity.

Definitions: When an activity is, by definition, to be carried out by a student, we will use the term "student" in defining the activity below.  However ePortfolios are often used when the author is not, not yet, or no longer a student (e.g., for lifelong learning, for admission, for academic staff, etc.). For these activities, we have used the term 'author' to refer to the person who creates the ePortfolio.

Activities that can be important components of creating and using ePortfolios:

  1. Author documents abilities or development for feedback, guidance, and/or assessment/certification.

  2. Author deepens learning through reflection (e.g., reflection on how the work itself, sometimes in combination with other artifacts, provides evidence of capability; reflection on development of a capability)

  3. Author integrates/synthesizes experiential (life) learning with academic learning (credit for prior learning in some cases)
  4. Author deepens learning by setting and describing personal goals, goals that form the structure of the ePortfolio.
  5. Academic staff provide guidance for students.
  6. Authentic assessors (outside experts, peers, and others whose opinions will matter to the author and to the audience for the ePortfolio) provide feedback about the author's achievement or progress.
  7. As part of the design of the ePortfolio process, academic staff redefine program (degree) goals and instruction in terms of abilities that are developed cumulatively over many courses and experiences.
  8. Academic staff use the ePortfolio to see one another's assignments and rubrics (assessment criteria), thereby sharing good practices.
  9. When academic staff collaborate in developing programs goals (reflected in e-portfolio structure) and providing assessment of ePortfolios, they may develop a shared, grounded ability to discuss learning in their program or across programs.

 Programmatic activities for which ePortfolios can be important components (examples):

  1.  Institution supports capstone courses (i.e., author creates portfolio to reflect on prior work and/or to exhibit work done in the capstone course)

  2. Institution supports learning communities (e.g., by assessment of projects, by supporting collaborative assessment of student work by two or more instructors or by peers in the community)

  3. Student communicates with others, and receives assessment from others, about fieldwork and coursework (fieldwork).

  4. Employers revise professional development programs (or educational programs revise plans) by examining achievements and development of people who are heading their way as potential employees or students. (articulation)

  5. Institutions guide program evaluation (formative) by identifying areas where learning is a strength and areas where there are opportunities for improvement

  6.  Institutions guide program evaluation (summative) by providing documentation of performance to external agencies and the public.

  7. Support and guidance for lifelong learning as the author is educated, works, and lives. The initiator of this activity might be the author personally, an educational institution, a political entity, or an association.

  8. Institution (sometimes through an advising unit) helps students apply for a job or advanced education.

  9. Through the act of creating and using the portfolio, the author increasingly thinks of himself/herself as a member of a profession or community. (developing of a sense of professional identity - membership in a professional community).
  10. Institution provides certified academic records of student learning.

* The difference between activities (1-9) and programmatic purposes (A-I) is subtle. The activities can each be a component of of creating and using at least some ePortfolios. For example, if outside experts are used to assess students progress by evaluating their ePortfolio, then the procedures for finding, supporting and rewarding those outside experts is part of the ePortfolio process.  In a similar fashion, the ePortfolio can be a component for achieving the programmatic purpose (e.g., one of many important ingredients for a successful capstone course).

Acknowledgements: We have been working with several subscriber institutions, including Virginia Tech and Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) in the US and the University of Queensland in Australia, to revise and expand this list of activities. Our goal is not to create the longest possible list, but instead to create a robust descriptions of activities, each of which deserve distinct attention during the planning and formative evaluation.  We welcome suggestions for how to consolidate, expand or reformulate this list of activities.

Next: A table that shows, for each of these activities, some of the ingredients needed for its success, including programmatic factors and software functionality. These programmatic factors and functionality are different for each activity.


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