An ePortfolio goes beyond simply collecting and storing artifacts. It leverages digital technologies’ unique potential to make connections between, and allow reflections upon, multiple experiences in ways that would not be possible with a traditional portfolio. The ability to connect standards, learning principles, experiences, and beliefs provide the opportunity to create layers of reflections and develop narrative themes.
Reflection is at the heart of the eFolio. It clearly demonstrates that students are thinking about what they think about; being intentionally thoughtful about defining an experience, explaining that experience, and determining future thoughts and actions. Students’ reflections set their past, present, and future in direct tension as they seek to explain how institutional decisions and learning activities influence and shape their education.
Through blogs and vlogs, students document their growth one week at a time. Weekly blogs/vlogs can stand alone as artifacts of reflective practice. As part of the eFolio creation process, students revisit their posts and treat them as relational artifacts/narrative records that can be connected thematically. They can then be re-connected in different ways, often alongside other artifacts, to demonstrate challenges that have been overcome and/or personal growth.
When students are given choices of modalities, the quality of reflections improve. Data shows a deepening of all reflective practices when using a rubric to evaluate the levels of those reflections. Students also gain deeper levels of critical thinking skills when they reflect with a variety of methods. These reflections give insight into understandings and misunderstandings, especially when you link theory to practice and consider the moral and ethical implications of your beliefs and behaviors.
This gives you quality artifacts to select from as you craft narrative accounts of personal growth. Take this reflective work, connect it to a theme and then reflect again as part of the process of constructing your identity. Meta-reflective practices that surface in the eFolio are also assessed.
Sustainability is an issue because of lost and broken links to past artifacts. Work is now held on multiple platforms, allowing students to maintain their eFolios after graduation and become lifelong learners.
Research is needed to further refine and calibrate our eFolio assessment rubric and test our reflective-practice assessment tool to assure that we are measuring what we propose to measure. The goal is to simply articulate the concept of meta-reflection and encourage it in students, to refine our assessment processes and to effectively promote ePortfolios to support student success.
Adapted from “The ePortfolio as a Measure of Reflective Practice” in International Journal of ePortfolio 2013, Volume 3, Number 2
by Kelly A. Parkes, Virginia Tech, Katie S. Dredger, James Madison University, David Hicks, Virginia Tech