Instructor perspectives on ePortfolios

At Waterloo's 2014 ePortfolio Day, four instructors gave presentations on how they use ePortfolios in their courses. Videos of their sessions are available below. 

Marcel Pinheiro 

Bob Sproule

Geoff Malleck

Jay Dolmage

Other examples of ePortfolio practice at Waterloo

Nancy Waite and Heather Chase: School of Pharmacy (Co-op program)

Intent of the e-portfolio in this course: documenting achievement of professional competencies.
ePortfolios are the integrating tool through which students conduct in-depth assessment of both the integration of classroom and workplace learning, and their future learning needs, allowing students to showcase their professional development through their mission statements, reports, employer and self-evaluations. 
Students use their e-portfolios during their co-op work terms to document and provide evidence of how they have achieved the following professional competencies:
  1. Patient Care
  2. Professional Collaboration and Teamwork
  3. Ethical, legal and professional responsibilities
  4. Drug, Therapeutic and Practice Information
  5. Communication and Education
  6. Drug Distribution
  7. Management Knowledge and Skills
During the first term, students add their personal mission statement, resume and personal learning objectives outlining what they would like to achieve during upcoming co-op work term. Students are encouraged to add multi-media to personalize their e-portfolio.
During their work term, students complete a mid-term and final self-assessment based upon the Co-operative Education evaluation form and mid-term and final reflection. They may also use it as a tool to journal their experiences and document evidence of achievement of the required learning outcomes for the school of pharmacy.  These, along with the employer evaluations and the Program Learning Outcomes Tracker (PLOT) are added to their e-portfolio.
Once they are back on campus after their work term, in groups of 5-6, students use their e-portfolios to share their work term experience, outline their next steps based upon their experience and feedback from the work term, and outline an action plan to move forward.

Kate Willink: Speech Communication 491 (Intercultural Communication)

This course is designed to study the intersection of communication and culture.  Students gain theoretical and practical understanding of the opportunities and obstacles that exist as individuals and communities communicate within and across cultures. Self-reflection is an important aspect of intercultural communication. Students use their e-portfolios to examine what they have learned and demonstrate the development of their knowledge, skills, and attitudes in the area of intercultural communication competence. Each student’s ePortfolio created for the Intercultural Communication course is arranged under the following three themes.
  1. Inspired Insights: where the student shows how he has been able to use the course content, discussions and readings in the community or workplace;
  2. Magnificent Failures: where the student shows work she considers experimental, tentative, and “substandard.” and considers how she learned from “mistakes” and “failures”.  
  3. Unanticipated Connections: in this area, each student describes significant insights from the class that go well beyond the scope and intention of the syllabus.  These unanticipated connections bridge academic knowledge with life experiences, making the work personally relevant and meaningful.

Robert Sproule: School of Accounting and Finance

Students in the Bachelor's of Accounting & Financial Management (BAFM) program are encouraged to create their own e-portfolio in their first term on campus.  While they are provided with resources to develop their e-portfolio using KEEP Toolkit, they are free to use any tool in creating their e-portfolio.  On-line resources, along with a workshop, are offered to support them in their 1B term.  They are encouraged to personalize their own e-portfolio, using artefacts from their life experiences prior to entering university.
Students are provided timely feedback to  any reflective activity they submit from a team of reviewers who are retained and trained solely to provide feedback on reflections.  In addition, a guideline document to help them prepare their reflective piece is provided. The guidelines include a number of items which students are asked to specifically cover off.  Reflective pieces are typically associated with an artefact that could be a personally authored document, feedback from a third party or a video clip.  Students are provided the opportunity to do reflective pieces associated with certain courses in their program.  These reflective pieces tie in with one or more learning outcomes for a particular course and are either done at the end of the course or at intervals throughout the course.  Students are also given the opportunity to do a reflective piece associated with a number of Program-based initiatives. These initiatives are typically of a one-off nature and occur throughout the program.
During each of their four work terms, students are required to complete two reflections to earn credit.  One reflection is due at the mid-point of the work term that will benchmark a student in terms of one of the four themes: teamwork, oral communication, written communication and leadership.  In this reflection, the students must incorporate feedback from their employer and integrate the specific theme with both classroom and work term experiences.  At the end of the work term they will complete a second reflection that will update the theme, incorporating: experiences since the mid point, current feedback from their employer, and feedback from the mid-point reflection they received from the reviewer.

Tracy Penny Light. Sexuality, Marriage, & Family Studies 310 (Sexual Ethics)

This course examines social relationships and structures that support sexual identities and generate issues related to sexual behaviour, attitudes, and values at the individual and group level. Students are exposed to a variety of critical theoretical approaches to sexual ethics. Through their ePortfolios, students document their ability to think critically and to analyze a variety of texts, lectures, readings, personal research and in-class discussions dealing with sexual ethics.  The creation of the e-portfolio is, in essence, a reflective activity that encourages students to integrate their knowledge of the course materials with those of other courses as well as learning experiences they have had in the workplace and community. Students collect materials throughout the term, and select those artefacts which they feel best showcases their learning and their statement of their personal ethical perspective.  

Students may choose to include their own reflections on course concepts, their concept maps of connections between course concepts, their group research project and the précis assignments. As well, students may include artefacts from other learning contexts (i.e. other courses, workplace, community) which indicate how learning that has taken place in Sexuality, marriage, and family studies (SMF) 310 can be transferred or used after the course is over. In addition, students are encouraged to consider how their own personal histories impact their ethical perspective. The e-portfolio is a culminating activity and is worth 20% of their grade.

Doris Jakobsh. Religious Studies 495 (The Living Traditions of India)

In the fall of 2010, students travelled to India for a three month course with their Professor, Doris Jakobsh. During their travels, the students were required to complete daily journals and weekly reflections in their e-portfolios, read an assigned book each week, and participate in group discussions. A month after they returned, they were required to submit a synthesis of their learning by revisiting journal and ePortfolio entries and reviewing artifacts from their trip. The course was very much about the very real and very heartfelt experiences which were examined through the lenses of the self, the self within the group, the self as "the other", and the self as a "stranger in a strange land".

The daily journaling and ePortfolio, which constituted the largest component of the course activities, were an important means through which the students explored the various facets of their learning which took place throughout the trip. The design of the ePortfolio reflected the goals, aspirations and potential of the journey.

The students began and ended their trip by defining what the following four headings meant to them. Each heading was examined through three foci: Me, The Group and India. These headings and metaphors helped structure the weekly e-portfolio reflections and the final reflection on learning that had taken place during the trip.

  1. Inspired Insights. Metaphor: "You cannot travel on the path until you have become the Path itself. " -- Buddha
  2. Magnificent Failures. Metaphor: "Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves." -- Thoreau
  3. Unanticipated Connections. Metaphor: "All are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny…I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the inter-related structure of reality." -- Martin Luther King
  4. Ahhh-sumptionsMetaphor: "We don’t see things are they are, we see them as we are." -- Anais Nin

ePortfolio Resources

ePorfolios explained. What they are, why they deepen learning, and how to use them. 

Student perspectives. Four Waterloo students explain how ePortfolios have deepened their learning. 

Staff perspectives. Several staff members from Waterloo support units explain how they use ePortfolios to assist instructors and students. 

Presentation by Randy Bass. Dr. Randy Bass is Senior Research Scholar on the Connect to Learning ePortfolio Project. He delivered a session at Waterloo's 2014 ePortfolio Day. 

Katherine Lithgow. Contact her regarding questions about ePortfolios.