2007 Teaching and Learning Symposium

2:30-4:30 p.m., April 24, 2007
HUB West Ballroom

Session Description


The Journey to Best Practices: Early Steps in Implementing E-Portfolios

Cara Lane, Janice Fournier, Laura Baldwin, Steven Corbett, and Kelly Reinhard - Catalyst Research & Development, English


What does it take to journey beyond basic access to technology towards a meaningful implementation?

The poster documents the gradual and incremental changes in instructional practice, technical support, and departmental culture that accompanied the Expository Writing Program’s (EWP) introduction of Catalyst Portfolio. Several characteristics of EWP made it an ideal setting for adoption of e-Portfolio: (1) the program had in place clearly articulated course outcomes and a well-developed paper portfolio assignment; (2) administrators and instructors easily saw a fit between the Portfolio tool and the established curriculum. Other aspects of the program and classroom practice, however, posed challenges for the e-Portfolio pilot: (1) all sections of beginning composition are taught by teaching assistants, many of which have no prior teaching experience; (2) EWP is part of the English department, which, traditionally, does not have a strong technology culture.

We gathered data about e-Portfolio implementation from the following sources: instructor and administrator interviews, instructor and student questionnaires, and a review of instructor assignments and student e-Portfolios.

While, in general terms, the e-Portfolio was successful, our research identified four critical variables within the instructional context that affected, positively and/or negatively, the implementation of e-Portfolios. These include: assignment function, instructional practice, access to technology, and audience engagement. For example, students’ writing in e-portfolios tended to address an audience beyond the instructor, unlike the cover letter of the paper portfolio. However, opportunities for exchange of e-Portfolios among peers were limited and there was no structured opportunity to engage an outside audience. Both instructors and administrators felt that additional steps will need to be taken in the future to more directly engage an authentic audience beyond the classroom. This example is illustrative of the everyday dilemmas and progressive transformation that are part of technology adoption on any scale.



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