e-Portfolios: Proven Concept on a New Platform

Paper-based portfolio use has a long standing tradition in language arts, fine arts, and design-based disciplines. The pedagogy surrounding their use is well understood and documented. However, as we move into the digital age, more and more disciplines are recognizing the benefit portfolios have to offer, especially electronically based portfolios (e-Portfolios) which are easily created, portable, and able to contain a vast array of multimedia artifacts.

An e-Portfolio is a digital collection of authentic and diverse evidence (or artifacts) that typically represents an author’s best work, and demonstrates concept and skill mastery. The benefit of a digital collection is that one no longer has to store mountains of paper-based artifacts. Instead, the artifacts are uploaded to a secure server, allowing for access from anywhere there is an Internet connection. In addition, because an e-Portfolio is a method of arranging and displaying artifacts, many different presentations can quickly and easily be created for different audiences from the same collection.

The College of Business’ Professional Development Program (PDP) demonstrates one example of how e-Portfolios are being used at Mizzou. In their e-Portfolio, students collect various artifacts which represent a wide array of competencies which are key to their success in the business world. The students categorize these artifacts into different competency areas (see Figure 1) which help them identify strengths and weaknesses in their professional development.

After completing the matrix, students are then asked to produce a portfolio presentation of their best work, as well as brief reflections about the artifacts contained in it. This presentation (see Figure 2) can then be shared to potential employers as a means to help further differentiate the PDP students and set apart their skills and abilities from others.

As mentioned previously, because this is a digital portfolio, the students can easily create multiple portfolio presentations, with each presentation customized to the audience (employer, instructor, fellow student) who may be viewing it.

Beyond the ability to showcase and collect repositories of the students’ best academic work, e-Portfolios also present an opportunity to provide authentic assessment, and to facilitate formative and summative feedback to the students.

Some departments on campus are already beginning to explore the e-Portfolio Matrix tool as a mechanism to assist with Comprehensive Exams, Certificate completion, or tracking student progress within an academic program. Others are experimenting with course-based portfolios, to facilitate the organization and feedback mechanisms in a complex project. For information about using e-Portfolios in your department contact ET@MO on their consultation request form.