2006 Teaching and Learning Symposium

3:00-4:30 p.m., April 25, 2006
Mary Gates Commons


Session Description

E-Portfolios in Introductory Comp: Enlarging Conceptions of Composing

Janice Fournier, Cara Lane, Steven Corbett - Catalyst Research & Development, English

As a participant in the National Coalition on Electronic Portfolio Research, Catalyst Research and Development has been investigating how students learn to think and compose in the format of a portfolio. This year, we've partnered with the Expository Writing Program in English, which currently uses a well-developed paper portfolio assignment as part of its introductory composition course.

Within this context, we’re studying what effects the transition from paper to electronic portfolios has on teaching and learning. Graduate student instructors (TAs) piloted the use of e-portfolios in 3 sections of English 131 in winter 2006, and will use e-portfolios in 6 sections in the spring. Students in these sections are using Catalyst Portfolio to assemble and comment on their writing for the course. English 131: Introduction to Expository Writing is built around four course learning objectives. For the portfolio, students are required to choose 5-7 papers and then write about how these works demonstrate achievement of the objectives. Currently, for the paper portfolio, students write their argument in the form of a cover letter to their instructor. One challenge has been translating the genre of a cover letter to a multi-page online portfolio format and encouraging the use of a wider range of artifacts as evidence for a claim.

Using data from student surveys, interviews with instructors, and a review of student work, we’ll share preliminary findings on how the use of e-portfolios is affecting teaching and learning practices in regard to composing.