Assessment and evidence-based planning and decision-making are central to faculty, staff, and institutional learning at Guttman. In addition to administering the Connect to Learning Core Survey in the Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 semesters, we also completed an assessment of our Summer Bridge program and of Studio, our first year academic support space. Below is a brief discussion of some of the key ePortfolio-related findings from these assessments and the improvements made based on those findings.
Summer Bridge 2012:
At the conclusion of our Summer Bridge program, we did a review of student ePortfolios. Only 1/3 of our students were able to successfully upload their work and reflections to their ePortfolio. In addition, feedback from faculty during the fall semester indicated that students were not comfortable navigating the technology and working with their ePortfolio.
In the fall 2012 semester, we administered the survey with four cohorts of our first year students (n=67) in sections taught by our C2L team. Our findings in that first semester confirmed what we suspected – students were having difficulty navigating the ePortfolio technology.
Based on these findings, the Summer Bridge committee recommended changes to the Summer Bridge 2013 curriculum. The committee focused on fully integrating the use of ePortfolio across the curriculum, including the final research project. Students were also introduced to social pedagogies as both faculty and peers reviewed and commented on portfolios. We also improved our Summer Bridge professional development, modeling ePortfolio practice by having faculty create an ePortfolio during a mock-research project activity.
While the final assessment of the 2013 Summer Bridge program is still underway, we are pleased to report that almost 98% of students successfully used their ePortfolio to share their work and reflections. In addition, faculty report that this group of students was much more comfortable working with their ePortfolios as compared to the previous year.
Guttman administered the C2L Core Survey in classes led by C2L team members in fall 2012 and in most sections of the Studio component of a required course, City Seminar II, in spring 2013. The survey results, which were generally positive but showed some inconsistencies, reflect the developmental nature of our ePortfolio project. A key finding from the surveys that has informed our work in the 2013-2014 academic year is that instructors were using ePortfolio primarily as a course management tool rather than taking full advantage of ePortfolio pedagogy. As we describe in our Professional Development story, since spring 2013 we’ve initiated a series of workshops for instructors to share what they are doing with ePortfolio in their courses and learn from one another’s best practices.
When asked to describe how ePortfolio had “supported your growth and learning,” students referred most frequently to growth in the areas of time management and organization in both fall 2012 and spring 2012. This is consistent with instructors using ePortfolio as a course management tool. Smaller numbers of students indicated that ePortfolio has helped them improve their writing skills, see their development in all areas over time, and showcase their work to internal and external audiences. Since we are at a developmental stage, we have not focused as much in our faculty development activities on these benefits as we have on the basics of using ePortfolio as part of a course. Some students and instructors are using ePortfolio as a means for developing identities and showcasing work, however. Presenting these responses to the broader community gives us a way to highlight the range of benefits students might derive from consistent and intentional ePortfolio pedagogy.
The left side results indicate that only one respondent strongly believed that ePortfolio was used in a manner that transcended course-level experience and became a personal place of reflection. In our first semester, students and faculty were getting accustomed to using ePortfolio as part of the course and, as professional development seminars became part of our campus culture, ePortfolio also became the centerpiece of our shared learning. The results below indicate a radical shift from the Fall to the Spring.
The results from the Spring survey indicate a clear shift in both student identity and ownership. Whereas one student in the Fall indicated that they went beyond the course in thinking about their own portfolio, by the Spring ePortfolio culture on our campus deepened as students became owners of both their work and their individuality as reflected in the creation of personal pages, reflective practices, and photo galleries.
Gibsy’s portfolio is a perfect example of the type of growth we saw in the short span of a semester of work with our students. In this instance, Gibsy created a page on her portfolio that is illustrative of her unique reading interests. Not only does she state why she likes each book on her shelf, she also states why she would recommend each one to a friend or colleague. In thinking about social pedagogy from a different angle, this provides a Gibsy with a great platform to share her work with others, encouraging comments and feedback.
Gabby’s portfolio above links her co-curricular activities to her academic endeavors. As section editor for the Fast Times N.Y.C. student newspaper at Guttman, Gabby has developed her ePortfolio into a comprehensive narrative of her own unique individuality. And, we wouldn’t want you to miss watching the video she has embedded into her portfolio, so here it is.
As our ePortfolio culture gained momentum from the Fall to the Spring, a clear picture of our efforts in the areas of professional development, integrative social pedagogy, and outcomes assessment, our students began to take individualized ownership of their personal portfolios. Our students began identifying links between their courses and through their emerging interests in our newly developed student activities, student government, campus newspaper, and peer mentor program. Making these initial connections fostered creative and intellectual growth simultaneously as students began to see themselves both as scholars and professionals.