What is it?
Consider the pivotal moments in your experience as a learner. What were your breakthroughs in understanding, and what were the processes that led to these transformations? What can we, as educators, do to increase the likelihood that our students will also discover the newfound insights that emerge through integrated learning? This is the intended purpose of involving students in the process of saving, organizing, and reflecting upon work within the online space of an ePortfolio.
What’s the evidence?
Oftentimes the most powerful “aha” moments take place when we make connections across school, work, and personal life experiences. George Kuh, Higher Education Emeritus Professor at Indiana University, describes ePortfolios as “an intentionally-designed instructional approach that, among other advantages, prompts students to periodically reflect on and deepen what they are learning and helps them connect and make sense of their various experiences inside and outside of the classroom that – taken together – add up to more than the sum of its parts” (Eynon and Gambino, 2017, p. ix). According to Connect to Learning, a three-year research project conducted across 23 institutions, students taking courses that involved active and recurring ePortfolio work were “more engaged in educationally purposeful activities, earned higher grades, and were more likely to complete courses and persist” (Eynon and Gambino, 2017, p.viii).
The educational value of an assignment is intensified, and the sense of class community is strengthened, when learners have an opportunity to view each others’ work for the purpose of explanation, reflection, and feedback (Rogers, 2002). When this work is in digital format, such as multimedia videos, posters, and presentations, students can also embed the files within an online written reflection that provides context and increases the work’s memorability (Matthews-DeNatale, 2017). Students often do not think to keep assignments that have been graded. Encourage your students to save and organize digital representations of their work so that they can revisit and observe their growth over time, and perhaps eventually create a site that showcases their most profound accomplishments. To make this process easier, Northeastern provides the ePortfolio tool Digication free of charge to all students, faculty, and even alumni. Academic Technology Services provides a series of Digication ePortfolio tutorials to help you get started.
Eynon, B., & Gambino, L. (2017). High-impact ePortfolio practice: A catalyst for student, faculty, and institutional learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Press.
Matthews-DeNatale, G. (2017). Enduring impact: What can we learn about ePortfolios by listening to program graduates? Paper presented at the 2017 Association of American Colleges and Universities ePortfolio Forum.
Rogers, C. (2002). Defining reflection: Another look at John Dewey and reflective teaching. Teachers College Record, 104(4), 842-866.