February 5, 2018
By incorporating ePortfolios into your course/program/university, what do you hope to change or impact in your students? — Jessica Chittum (ECU)
On January 27, 2018, the 9th Annual Forum on Digital Learning and ePortfolios was held in Washington DC. Emails from the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) alerted me that this gathering would be taking place at the end of the annual AAC&U meeting. It was an excellent opportunity for me to learn more about this pedagogical practice.
My learning started early, before the forum even began. I was already familiar with AAC&U’s project, VALUE: Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education. But the forum was sponsored by two additional organizations new to me – the Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence-Based Learning (AAEEBL), the association of ePortfolio professionals; and the International Journal of ePortfolio (IJeP).
AAC&U’s ePortfolios page defines ePortfolio as digital repositories of student work that can be used for learning, assessment, and/or professional development and employment. One speaker emphasized broadening the “e” in “ePortfolio” to reflect experience, engagement, evidence, equity, and equality (Chen). One speaker shared that her institution simply calls these “learning porfolios” (Kelly). Another speaker emphasized that ePortfolios can assist in documenting learning among and across contexts, such as connecting academic affairs and student affairs (Light). Before this forum, I wasn’t aware of how much some institutions have made ePortfolios an institutional practice – IUPUI even have a vision and mission statement for ePortfolios.
There has been research on the impact of ePortfolios. At the forum, one researcher reported that her students reported a greater perceived usefulness of how the content relates to their goals and the real world when creating course-based ePortfolios (Chittum). And for employment, ePortfolios matter when a candidate is on the short list during the interview process (Watson). The ePortfolio community agrees that more research needs to be completed to prove the impact of ePortfolios on student outcomes, as it is projected that there will be a greater adoption of ePortfolios, especially as they offer an opportunity to address student equity and inclusion (Parnell).
Additional research on ePortfolios can be found online in the open access International Journal of ePortfolio (IJeP). AAC&U also has PEARL – Publications on ePortfolio: Archives of the Research Landscape, a freely-available database with over 500 article citations of peer-reviewed journal articles on ePortfolios.
Several publications exist that are dedicated to ePortfolios. AAC&U has a web page listing ePortfolio Publications and Resources. Another web page lists just ePortfolio Publications, such as High-Impact ePortfolio Practice: A Catalyst for Student, Faculty, and Institutional Learning. AAEEBL has a free online PDF that is a Field Guide to Eportfolio. From the phrase “Collect-Select-Reflect” and challenging students to write a learning philosophy statement, I’m realizing that I’m just touching the tip of the ePortfolio iceberg when it comes to thinking about ePortfolio implementation.
If you are not convinced that ePortfolios have a place in your course (learning portfolio), or your department major/minor coursework (integrative portfolio), or your institution (assessment portfolio), perhaps start by reading AAC&U’s Peer Review article, The Benefits of E-portfolios for Students and Faculty in Their Own Words. You may also be interested in the IJeP editorial on AAC&U making ePortfolios their 11th high impact practice (HIP).