This session was about eportfolios defined as a collection of artifacts judged by experts. The eportfolio is both an end product AND a learning process (formative/summative). The presenters are assessment professionals at Duke’s Trinity college, their college of of liberal arts and sciences. The session went through several potential systems that ranged from being student centered and unstructured (e.g., WordPress) to very assessment-centered and highly structured (taskstream). The image provides a quadrant analysis of potential systems. Interestingly, Duke created a home-grown system 15 years ago which they recently had to abandon because they couldn’t keep it current with developments in social media.
The take home message I took from this session was two-fold:
- the primary criteria for your system should be that it promotes the students ability to showcase themselves and their learning in an authentic way.
- The “sweet spot” for an eportfolio system is where it hits the middle of the diagram in the quadrant – a criteria that most available systems don’t hit.
The speakers offered some useful guiding principles for an eportfolio system …
- enables reflection among both students and facilitators.
- provides information and insights that can’t be obtained elsewhere.
- is more than the sum of its parts. The interaction between pieces of evidence is essential.
- creating the ePortfolio generates unique knowledge about learning (metacognition).
- must be adaptable and allow creative change.
- should allow comparisons without standardization.
- must be assessed iteratively to capture shifts in students’ thinking.
What I took away …
There were several things I found useful and/or of interest for our QEP:
- The campus doesn’t have to have a unified system – the trade-off comes in complexity in data collection and analysis.
- Using the available software products marketed for eportfolios typically reduces the creativity and flexibility from the student end
- Using wordpress would be a cheap solution. The speakers suggested developing a tagging scheme for the blog postings that would allow reviewers an “easyish” way of identifying evidence. For example, you could have the students tag a post with particular learning outcomes.