Sunday, February 14, 2010

5.3.3: ePortfolios and what we need to know

Article: Yancey, K.B. (2009). Electronic portfolios a decade into the twenty-first century: What we know, what we need to know. Peer Review 11(1), 28-32.

Yancey's (2009) brief article is, in some ways, disappointing - it does not draw deeply from the vast literature on ePortfolios, instead opting to treat the book Electronic Portfolios 2.0 as its major source. Now, I have only read the first book the author was involved with, called Electronic portfolios, so I cannot comment on the worth of the 2.0 version. But this article does not fully deliver what it's title promises, and it is disappointing not to see some of the very valuable UK-based research directly cited (this despite the author's own admission that "our knowledge-base is both wide and culturally complex", p.32). Anyway, there is still ample value in the article!

Among Yancey's (2009) what we know's:
  • Student engagement is a critical aspect of ePortoflio development
  • Student engagement is, in part, a result of students having control over their ePortfolios and not having to work too much in a prescripted environment
  • Students using ePortfolios tend to perform better than those who do not (though the possibility that this is because only more successful students would tend to use them is not acknowledged)
  • The choice of ePortfolio platform is important; "the ways the technology is programmatically formative" (p.29) should be considered.
  • Reflection across courses - 'meta-reflection' is a good (my) term for it - is proving highly valuable. Typically assignments require students to reflect on what they have learned within each course; ePortfolios broaden the scope of reflection, enabling "a shift from discrete courses to a larger frame of reference" (2009, p.30).
  • A Skills Matrix (like a table that students populate with artefacts to demonstrate their attainment of various skills) can help to guide meta-reflection.
  • Reflection is a valuable exercise encouraged by the effective use of ePortfolios; the process is more important than the outcome. Yancey (p.32) notes that "Many colleges and universities... found that helping students develop a 'capability to reflect' is a critical educational outcome, in and of itself".
What we need to know:
  • The influence on ePortfolio tools to student outcome.
  • The nature of reflection in the development of ePortfolios.
Not a bad list - but far from comprehensive. I do agree wholeheartedly though that the 'What we need to know' areas are very rich ones for further research, particularly the latter one on reflection. The first, relating to ePortolio tools, is also important - but I think the current case study research speaks for itself on the matter of tool choice (see previous comments relating to Swan's article).


Ray Tolley said...

Hi, Nichthus, Yes, it's me again!

I too felt theat Yancey's article was a bit 'thin'.

On the subject of 'Reflection' may I chip in my pennyworth with the following link?

the tag reflection will also pick up some other notes.

Best Wishes,

Nichthus said...

Excellent post Ray, many thanks... and useful links. I've subscribed to your blog, and look forward to more interaction!

Are you aware of any experimental/primary reserach work that has been done on reflection? Seems like a promising area for resaerch.