Making Learning Visible and Meaningful Through Electronic Portfolios

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [Tufts University]On: 26 September 2014, At: 05:37Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House,37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK</p><p>Change: The Magazine of Higher LearningPublication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/vchn20</p><p>Making Learning Visible and Meaningful ThroughElectronic PortfoliosTerrel L. RhodesPublished online: 13 Jan 2011.</p><p>To cite this article: Terrel L. Rhodes (2010) Making Learning Visible and Meaningful Through Electronic Portfolios, Change:The Magazine of Higher Learning, 43:1, 6-13, DOI: 10.1080/00091383.2011.538636</p><p>To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00091383.2011.538636</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the Content) containedin the publications on our platform. However, Taylor &amp; Francis, our agents, and our licensors make norepresentations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose ofthe Content. Any opinions and views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of the Content should not be reliedupon and should be independently verified with primary sources of information. Taylor and Francis shall not beliable for any losses, actions, claims, proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilitieswhatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arising out ofthe use of the Content.</p><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematicreproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in anyform to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &amp; Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p><p>http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/vchn20http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1080/00091383.2011.538636http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00091383.2011.538636http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p></li><li><p>6 Change January/February 2011</p><p>By Terrel L. Rhodes</p><p>Terrel L. Rhodes is vice president for quality, curriculum, and assessment at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&amp;U) and the director of the VALUE project (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education), which is focused on the quality of student learning and its assessment through rubrics and e-portfolios. </p><p>Making LearningVisible andMeaningful</p><p>through</p><p>electronicportfolios</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Tuf</p><p>ts U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 05:</p><p>37 2</p><p>6 Se</p><p>ptem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>We seem to be beginning a new wave of technology development in higher education. Freeing student work from paper and making it organized, searchable, and transportable opens enormous possibilities. . . . In short, ePortfolios might be the biggest thing in technology innovation on campus. Electronic portfolios have a greater potential to alter higher education at its very core than any other technology application weve known thus far. </p><p>Trent Batson, 2002</p><p>We are inundated with technology on our campuses and in our lives. Our students are increasingly technology savvy, expecting faculty and administrators to func-tion comfortably within the digital world. And we have responded by using tech-nology more and more in teaching and learning. </p><p>The following article focuses on one such usestudent electronic portfolios, or e-portfoliosas a rapidly emerging, powerful, iterative mode for capturing student work and enabling faculty to assess student learning. Long before the advent of e-portfolios, collections of student work were a means by which students in the arts and architecture could demonstrate their learning and accomplishments (Zubizarreta, 2009). But technology has provided the means to do this more easily, in multiple modes, and portably. So the use of portfolios in electronic form has rapidly spread to other fields (most notably, teacher education) and has been taken up for other purposes (e.g., faculty keeping portfolios of their work for purposes of development and evaluation or institu-tions for accreditation). Forty percent of campuses of all types large and small, public and private, </p><p>www.changemag.org 7</p><p>electronicportfolios</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Tuf</p><p>ts U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 05:</p><p>37 2</p><p>6 Se</p><p>ptem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>8 Change January/February 2011</p><p>research and liberal arts, and community collegesrecently reported using student e-portfolios. </p><p>This development has benefits that extend beyond the cam-pus. In 2008, a survey of employers conducted by Peter S. Hart Research Associates asked about the evidence of student learning they would like to have when hiring college graduates. Thirty-five percent indicated that they would like to see the stu-dents work in e-portfolios. Younger respondents were the most enthusiastic, suggesting that this type of evidence will be more in demand in the future. </p><p>Part of the current surge of interest in and use of e-portfolios flows from the decades-long requirement of regional and profes-sional accrediting organizations for demonstrations that students are learning what faculty expect them to learn. Meanwhile the legislative and policy attention focused on measuring student learning that has existed since the mid-1980s has intensified in the wake of the Spellings Commission report in 2006. Portfolios have been one way to respond to both of those pressures. </p><p>An alternative response to the calls for measures of student learning has been to use existing national standardized tests of general intellectual skills. These tests focus on three primary learning outcomes: written communication, problem solving/analysis, and critical thinking. They are administered to samples of freshmen and seniors, typically in a timed environment. The results are summarized and available at an institutional level, but they are often not reliable at the individual student level and so are not reported to individual students. A key weakness of this kind of assessment strategy is that the tests are not high stakes, so there is neither an incentive for students to perform well nor a penalty for their not taking the exam seriously. </p><p>Moreover, faculty members express a need for demonstra-tions of a much broader array of learning outcomes than the existing tests addresse.g., personal and social responsibility, teamwork, intercultural knowledge and competence, and inte-grative learningand for measures that will help them improve pedagogy and the classroom experience. Finally, already over-burdened by the demands of increased enrollments and reduced resources, faculty dont see why what their students do in their classes and assignments is not sufficient for assessment and ac-countability purposes.</p><p>E-portfolios provide a means for collecting assigned work, as well as students accomplishments in non-classroom settings, so that faculty, internship supervisors, and others can assess it and aggregate or disaggregate the results, depending on the purposes of the assessment. There is a need for some means of linking assessments of work done in individual classes with those done by other faculty and evaluators when they are for purposes of programmatic or institutional evaluation; this cre-ates a concomitant need for shared expectations for student per-formance on a set of specified learning outcomes.</p><p>RubRics foR LeaRning and assessmentFrom those needs, the Association of American Colleges </p><p>and Universities (AAC&amp;U) Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education (VALUE) project emerged. Over the course of the project, over 100 faculty and academic profes-sionals from all types of higher education institutions across the country developed rubrics for the fifteen liberal learning out-</p><p>comes previously identified in AAC&amp;Us work. The rubrics went through three rounds of drafting, testing on over 100 campuses, and redrafting. The final versions were released in fall 2009.</p><p>The VALUE rubrics were based on ones already developed by campus colleagues as they articulated their expectations for learning. For some outcomes there existed few rubrics or articu-lated expectations, and for others there were many. Although the specific language differed and the emphasis among criteria changed from college to college, the development teams found clearly shared criteria for learning at progressively more sophis-ticated levels of performance in each of the outcome areas.</p><p>VALUE Rubrics</p><p>Intellectual and Practical Skills</p><p> Inquiry and analysis </p><p> Critical thinking </p><p> Creative thinking </p><p> Written communication </p><p> Oral communication </p><p> Reading </p><p> Quantitative literacy </p><p> Information literacy </p><p> Teamwork </p><p> Problem solving </p><p>Personal and Social Responsibility</p><p> Civic engagement </p><p> Intercultural knowledge and competence </p><p> Ethical reasoning </p><p> Lifelong learning</p><p>Integrative and Applied Learning</p><p> Integrative and applied learning </p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Tuf</p><p>ts U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 05:</p><p>37 2</p><p>6 Se</p><p>ptem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>www.changemag.org 9</p><p>In some instances the teams identified missing aspects that needed to be incorporated into the rubrics to make them more complete. For example, criteria tended to be text bound and did not reflect how students could demonstrate learning through visual, graphical, digital, or artistic modes of communication.</p><p>e-poRtfoLios as a medium foR LeaRningTechnology is expanding the modes through which students </p><p>learn and can demonstrate their learning. No longer are they restricted solely to the printed word but can do so in multiple modes: video, audio, in-the-field community projects, and graphics, for example. These multi-modal approaches are the ways students will need to work in the future: They may need to construct a variety of graphical data displays that effectively communicate with a range of audiences, or capture work in vid-eos, or work in groups using social networking.</p><p>As Helen Chen has observed,</p><p>In contrast to transcripts, e-portfolios (with their added value of the e or electronic nature) allow students to gather in one place a range of digital artifacts that can be used to demonstrate presentation skills (e.g., a video of a presentation and accompanying slides), inquiry and analysis (e.g., a paper that includes instructor feedback and is annotated by the student to highlight key points), or intercultural knowledge (e.g., reflections on a term spent abroad illustrated with photos and reflections). The rep-resentations of learning in an e-portfolio reflect the indi-vidual students view of the breadth of his or her educa-tion including what was learned both inside and outside the classroom and as the learning was experienced by the student and not just as it was delivered or packaged by the college or professor. (Chen, June 3, 2010)</p><p>George Kuh and his colleagues at the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) have found that there are patterns of practice on our campuses associated with enhanced student learning, which he has named high-impact practices, or HIPs. When students engage in two or more of these practices, there is a significant positive impact on their grades and retention, especially for those who are least advantaged when they come to higher education, such as first-generation and minority stu-dents (Kuh, 2008). Although e-portfolios are not one of the HIPs included in the survey, there is emerging evidence that e-portfolios may be associated with some of them. </p><p>For example LaGuardia Community College, a member of the Inter/National Coalition for Electronic Portfolio Learning, has been comparing students in e-portfolios classes to those in non-e-portfolio sections of the same classes with respect to their engagement in HIPs. La Guardia serves many first-generation, limited-income, non-native-speaking students. They </p><p>have found, from the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE), that e-portfolio students have more of these learning experiences and higher pass rates than do their counterparts in courses that do not have e-portfolios as an inte-gral part of the course (Eynon, 2007).</p><p>E-portfolios also require students to reflect on their learning, which is in itself a learning exercise. As Kathleen Blake Yancey has argued: </p><p>Collectively, Dewey, Vygotsky, and Polanyi define re-flection as a process by which we think: reviewing, as we think about the products we create and the ends we produce, but also about the means we use to get to those ends; and projecting, as we plan for the learning we want to control and accordingly, manage, contextualize, under-stand. We learn to reflect as we learn to talk: in the com-pany of others. To reflect, as to learn (since reflection is a kind of learning), we set a problem for ourselves, we try to conceptualize that problem from diverse perspectives the scientific and the spontaneous for it is in seeing something from divergent perspectives that we see it fully. Along the way, we check and confirm, as we seek to reach goals that we have set for ourselves. Reflection becomes a habit, one that transforms. (Yancey, 1998, pp. 1112) Reflection has not only become an essential way for students </p><p>to speak in their own voicesit has also become a way for them to both learn and provide evidence of their capacity for critical thinking, analytic reasoning, and integrative learning. Reflection at strategic points in the development of the e-portfolio creates </p><p>E-Portfolios</p><p>Institution: Clemson University</p><p>Purpose: Primarily for the assessment of general educa-tion. All students begin e-portfolios their first semester and add evidence each subsequent semester. </p><p>Who: The graduating class of 2010 successfully com-pleted e-portfolios, and all students received feedback from mentors and faculty. Faculty evaluated students e-portfolios at summer assessment workshops.</p><p>Results: Faculty members have begun to rethink their syllabi and course assignments based on the work that students are including in their e-portfolios. Substantial changes have been made to the general education program: The number of competencies has been reduced from 22 to eight, and communication has been embedded in all competencies. There are now data spanning four years of a students education to share with accrediting agencies. </p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Tuf</p><p>ts U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 05:</p><p>37 2</p><p>6 Se</p><p>ptem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>10 Change January/February 2011</p><p>a venue for the iterative and formative examination and demon-stration of learning and can play a summative role at key points in the assessment of student progress and achievement.</p><p>Institutions that have enjoyed success with e-portfoliosfor example, Bowling Green State University, St. Olaf College, K...</p></li></ul>

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