4 ways ePortfolios are going beyond college resume building

To Enhance Professional Development

At LaGuardia Community College, three faculty members are using ePortfolios to foster integrative social pedagogy (i.e., a design approach for teaching and learning where the representation of knowledge for an audience is central to the construction of course knowledge). In “Faculty Professional Development: Advancing Integrative Social Pedagogy Using ePortfolio,” the authors point to two seminars, “Art of Advising: Learning and Implementing Holistic Advisement Skills” and “Connected Learning: ePortfolio and Integrative Pedagogy,” as the common link among the three faculty members.

Art of Advising, for example, is a seminar that allows faculty and staff to work together in order to “go beyond the common perception of advising as course selection, and examines factors critical to how the Council on the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education defined advising as assisting ‘students in the development of meaningful educational plans,’” the authors state. “The seminar aims to explore, adapt, and demonstrate ePortfolio practices to help students identify and reflect on their interests, skills, strengths, and challenges.”

The seminar prompted two LaGuardia faculty members to collaborate and work with a group of students to use ePortfolios to build, connect, and sustain advisement efforts in the accounting discipline. The initiative centered on career-readiness and found students using ePortfolios to prepare for a career in the accounting field. An “About Me” assignment, for example, urged students to become more aware of themselves as learners in the context of their past, their present, and their future aspirations. “It also asked them to reflect on themselves as team players,” the authors state, “detailing the skills and qualities they already had and the skills and qualities they needed to develop.”

In conclusion, the authors feel that for LaGuardia’s faculty, the yearlong “Art of Advising and Connected Learning” professional development seminars “served as the catalysts for developing assignments and activities that succeeded in helping students to obtain, retain, apply, and share knowledge within intellectual communities.”

To Encourage and Support Student Civic Engagement

The college experience goes beyond just attending classes, getting good grades, and graduating within the desired timeframe. Through civic engagement and community involvement, for example, undergraduate students can enhance their educational experiences while also contributing to the world around them. In “Using ePortfolios to Assess Program Goals, Integrative Learning, and Civic Engagement: A Case Example” authors from the University of Michigan discuss the use of ePortfolios to assess individual student outcomes related to civic engagement.

Using a case example of an interdisciplinary undergraduate minor focused on community action and social change, the report’s authors demonstrate how ePortfolios were used to assess individual student change related to civic engagement as well as for providing input about program impact and outcomes.

Fifty-one students participated in the exercise, which was part of the minor’s one-credit capstone course, where students develop a philosophy statement highlighting their beliefs and perspectives about civic engagement activities.

The students presented their ePortfolios to other students throughout the course as well as via a showcase presentation at the end of the course. According to the authors, students were also asked to share and get feedback from outside faculty mentors of their own choosing. “The goal of the sharing is to help students to express and articulate their learning in ways that support deeper reflection,” they state.

Calling the ePortfolio “an innovative platform for assessment,” the authors plan to continue exploring the various ways in which these tools can be used to support pedagogical and curricular developments, assess program outcomes, and facilitate changes in the minor to enhance students’ overall civic engagement education. “…the ePortfolio process has enabled us to capture elements of what we know are high-impact practices for civic engagement, service learning, and social action education,” the authors conclude. “Through our preliminary efforts, we believe that ePortfolios make high-impact practices visible, allowing students to reflect on experiences and communicate them in new ways and to articulate and share the value of these types of experiences with external audiences, such as family members, employers, or academic advisors.”

Bridget McCrea is an editorial freelancer with eCampus News.

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