An excerpt from the Progress Report of the General Education Committee, June 2014
Research shows that intentional reflection on the learning process enhances the efficacy of that learning by helping students to synthesize, abstract and articulate key lessons.10 As a medium facilitating reflection – especially at scale – the eportfolio is a powerful tool. As Terrel Rhodes, Vice President for the Office of Quality, Curriculum and Assessment at the AAC&U, writes: 'eportfolios are one of the best technologies available to institutions of higher education and their students, as they seek the opportunities to resist the atomization and privatization of education in favor of more integrative and meaningful forms of liberal education – the forms of education that faculty and employers have repeatedly claimed are essential for success in college, the economy, and civic life.'11 Eportfolios also provide valuable functionality in the realm of programmatic and institutional assessment, making it easier to collect artifacts, map learning outcomes to program goals, and compare large amounts of data related to student learning.
A 2012 report by the Educause Centre for Applied Research showed that 77% of AAU member institutions are implementing eportfolios to some degree. Of those, 84% were using them at the program level to facilitate reflection on student learning, and assist with institutional and program assessment (among other uses).12 These included large publics such as Michigan and Arizona State, as well as SUNY Stony Brook.
It may not be long before SUNY recommends a system-wide eportfolio platform for all campuses. A 2013 report of the system’s eportfolio Task Group concluded that: 'After evaluating eportfolio use within the SUNY system and researching eportfolio models used at other institutions both nationally and globally, the committee concurs that implementing a centrally supported eportfolio infrastructure by SUNY for NY State is an imperative for the growth and maturation of integrative and lifelong learning, reflective practice as well as professional and workforce development.'13
10) Di Stefano, Giada, Francesca Gino and Gary P. Pisano (2014), 'Learning by Thinking: How Reflection Aids Performance,' Harvard Business School NOM Unit Working Paper 14-093: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2414478
11) Rhodes, Terrel (2014), 'From the Guest Editor,' Peer Review: Emerging Trends and Key Debates in Undergraduate Education. 6:1. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities, p.3.
12) Mayowski, Colleen, and Cynthia Golden (2012). 'Identifying Eportfolio Practices at AAU Universities' (Research Bulletin). Louisville, CO: Educause Center for Applied Research. http://www.educause.edu/ecar
13) Final Report from eportfolio Task Group,' July 2013: http://wiki.sln.suny.edu/download/attachments/15597864/FinalReportePTG.PDF