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Another vote for a working session(s) on portfolios for student learning

We’ve been working on a portfolio framework here at Marylhurst, particularly in the context of our “Liberal Arts Core.”  We just spent the last year on a series of conversations (accompanied by pie) on the ePortfolios&Pie Project. Our interest is in exactly what Sara is imagining – a process and practice that goes across courses (even outside the “garden wall” of the university) for students to connect and reflect on their learning. We’ve learned that, for a portfolio to support learning, we need to provide multiple opportunities for students to construct views in different contexts, for different audiences.  We’ve also learned that we need to be ready to meet the student at their “points of reflection” – whether they are an entering student, a student entering a program/major, a student stopping midpoint to evaluate their progress toward their goals, the student ready to graduate, or the student at any point in their learning that they choose. And, we faculty need to engage students directly around reflection, in order for the portfolio framework to have value.  I wonder if we could do a couple of working sessions, toward a project we might complete?  For example, we might create several personas (different, fully imagined people, with names and everything), and walk through what a portfolio framework might mean to them.

Questions that I’m interested in exploring:

What is the purpose of reflection? When does reflection occur (e.g. every class?) and on what (e.g. individual artifact such as a paper and/or or on a “whole” that is emerging for the student)? How can we make continuous engagement (reflection and connection) meaningful for students?

How does the “magic” happen? How do we turn what is otherwise just a collection of artifacts (papers, etc.)  into a meaningful, rich & deep learning experience for students? What does that mean about reflective practice (our own as learners, the university as a community of learners)?

How can we use ePortfolios to give students both the private, safe space to try & fail, to be authentic selves and the public showcase space that summarizes their learning at a particular moment in time? Is it necessary for the safe space to be private? Will a public space curb students’ willingness to take risks and be authentic?




About the author

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My decades-long passion has been to explore what creates a sense of presence in a mediated environment - especially a virtual environment (except the boundaries between the face-to-face and the virtual are always permeable). Everything I do at an intellectual and spiritual level is about finding opportunities to play with how such a space is created, and how community and collaboration are a part of that. And I also am spending quality time in World of Warcraft again, to break out of the academic into learning that is all about play.

  • Robin Wharton

    I would definitely be interested in participating in this session. I’ve taught with portfolios since I first began teaching first-year composition seven years ago, and I’ve recently started to integrate “riffs” on the traditional portfolio (e.g., collaborative class portfolio) in upper division classes. This semester, my students are collaboratively collecting poetry and their essays about the poems into a book, which they will then digitize. The process involves reflections about the poems and their essays, and their ongoing work on the project itself. One very teachable moment occurred when we started talking about what they wanted to do with their book–or what they hoped might be done with it–*after* the class was over. Like portfolios that cover more than one class’s worth of work, I think involving students in the creation of public/quasi-public artifacts and scholarly resources pushes them to consider the potential relevance of the artifacts they create in a broader learning context. The question is how to do this in a manner that respects their work, their privacy, and their intellectual property.

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