Top 10 Reasons Why SLCC Requires ePortfolio in General Education
(In no particular order)
ePortfolios Promote the Coherence of our General Education Program. SLCC has a cafeteria-style General Education program, where students choose from many courses organized into core and distribution areas. While choice is good, often students fail to see how General Education courses fit together into a foundation for career success and/or their continued educational advancement. The ePortfolio serves as a pseudo-capstone for our General Education program, allowing students multiple opportunities to see how their courses reinforce each other.
Reflective Pedagogy is Powerful. EPortfolio pedagogy is grounded in having students reflect on the work they do in our courses. More than a place to archive work, the ePortfolio should require students on multiple occasions to place their work in broader personal or intellectual contexts. Reflective pedagogy cements learning more deeply and helps students see why they are performing the exercises we require of them.
We Want Students to Make Connections. Learning involves making connections between new concepts/ideas/facts/perspectives and what one already knows. To a certain extent students' brains attempt to do this anyway, but we want to encourage students to intentionally make strong connections. The ePortfolio process of collecting artifacts and reflecting upon them forces students to build a network of connections between the different academic disciplines in General Education.
Students Can Express their Unique Creativity. Our curriculum is rich and our faculty are tremendously talented and diverse. By having an ePortfolio system that allows students to own their own site, we allow students the freedom to creatively document their learning. In turn, creative freedom helps students take ownership of their education--claiming and creating knowledge instead of passively receiving it. Think of ePortfolio as combating trends towards standardization in higher education.
Done Properly, ePortfolios Engage Students in Their Learning. Let us be the first to say that ePortfolio is not pedagogically useful if faculty are just telling students to "stick a file in there from this class." EPortfolio engages students in their learning when it is fully integrated into the course and used by students to showcase knowledge they have created or skills they have acquired. The ePortfolio allows students to use multi-media to create educational artifacts and deep reflection.
We can Properly Assess Our General Education Program with ePortfolios. Our regional accrediting body expects us to assess our General Education program, and we have chosen direct assessment of student work as opposed to employing standardized tests or other instruments. Authentic assessment using ePortfolios better allows us to "close the assessment loop" and use the data to improve teaching and learning at SLCC. See our assessment reports for the last three years:
Student Reflection Provides Important Feedback to Faculty. By crafting effective reflection prompts and reading student responses, faculty can gain insight into how students experience their courses, how those courses relate to other Gen Ed courses, and what kind of impact signature assignments are having on student learning. This is often more helpful feedback than we receive from course evaluations.
Creating an Engaging Educational Website Reinforces Lessons of Digital Rhetoric and Computer Literacy. It is important for our students to graduate knowing how to represent their learning on a website of their creation. Millions of individuals in the United States are using the same platforms we use for ePortfolios to create blogs, small business websites, elementary and secondary teacher sites, and sites for social, cultural and political organizations. We want our students to have the kind of computer literacy than can exploit Web 2.0 technology for personal and communal gain.
ePortfolios Help Advance a Culture of Evidence at SLCC. Advancing a culture of evidence is one of SLCC's strategic priorities. The ePortfolio is a way for students to demonstrate their learning with actual evidence rather than simply a GPA. It allows programs--including the Gen Ed program--to document how the curriculum is experienced by students and how well they are meeting our expectations.
ePortfolios Promote Student Intentionality with Respect to Learning Outcomes. It's not enough for us to simply identify course, program and institutional learning outcomes. We want students to work intentionally toward achieving those outcomes. Students complete signature assignments for the ePortfolio that tap at least two learning outcomes. They should also be creating links from the General Education learning outcomes on their Goals and Outcomes page to specific artifacts spread throughout their course pages. If all faculty use the ePortfolio in this way, students will come to see that we are all working on a common endeavor--helping students intentionally achieve essential learning outcomes in our own discipline-specific ways.
--David Hubert and Kati Lewis
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