ePortfolios help capture the bigger picture of student growth.

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What are ePortfolios?

ePortfolios are digital collections of course work, created by students, to demonstrate learning, progress and achievement. The main goal of an ePortfolio is to collect evidence of student learning and prompt student reflection.

This process of gathering, organizing and reflecting on past work and experiences can help students make connections within and between courses and better understand their growth as learners.

What are the benefits of ePortfolios?

For students, ePortfolios are a way to document and organize their progress and achievements making it easier to review; get input from peers, professors and mentors; and deploy for professional development.

There are three main types of ePortfolio that differ in purpose:

  • Reflection (or Learning) ePortfolio
    This type of ePortfolio allows students to view and reflect on their own development.
  • Showcase (or Representational) ePortfolio
    Students can give employers and graduate schools a richer picture of themselves by highlighting their achievements.
  • Assessment ePortfolio
    These demonstrate qualitative evidence of learning for program assessment. They are richer in detail and reflect professors' and programs' genuine learning objectives, not just multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blank testing.

Ways to use ePortfolios in your course

Reflection ePortfolio

The reflection or learning ePortfolio documents the process that students have gone through in creating their work, not just the outcome. Perhaps the most important component of learning is reflection. To improve learning you can use ePortfolios as an opportunity for students to reflect on and self-analyze their course experience and progression. This practice of self-analysis has the benefit of developing self-regulation skills in students.

How do I make a good reflection prompt for my students?

The following are questions* designed to prompt students to reflect on the creation of each artifact as well as the overall learning process:

  1. What did you create?
  2. What strategies did you use to design and build this project?
  3. How did it turn out? What improvements could you have made?
  4. How would you describe your ePortfolio?
  5. What are the meanings of the work that you chose to display? How did you choose what to display?
  6. How did your work change over time and how do those changes reflect a better understanding of course concepts?
  7. How did your previous knowledge or experience affect what you learned or how you learned?
  8. What specific learning outcomes for the course does this work demonstrate?
  9. What would you like the viewer to take away from your ePortfolio? Is there an overall message to the viewer?
  10. What did you learn from your work?
  11. How will you use what you learned in this course as you continue through your academic and professional career?
  12. What would you like to learn further about this or related subjects?

*Adapted from the UCBA ePortfolio Handbook.

Showcase ePortfolio

Good courses give students the opportunity to be creative, solve problems and apply the skills they are learning in real-world scenarios. At the end of these learning experiences, they are likely to have developed many digital artifacts demonstrating their skills. ePortfolios make it easier for students to share their work with mentors, future employers or in graduate school applications and encourage students to develop career awareness and professional skill building.

What should I consider when using showcase ePortfolios?

The platform choice is especially important because student work must be accessible to those outside the school and to students after their time at UB.

Unlike the reflection ePortfolio, the representational or showcase ePortfolio only shows final works that demonstrate mastery.

Students should be careful not to create an electronic dumping ground for information and artifacts. A well-crafted, professional ePortfolio requires thoughtful curation by students with feedback from peers and guidance from instructors.

These ePortfolios should appear professional and polished in a manner consistent with the industry the student plans to enter.

Assessment ePortfolio

These ePortfolios can function as a tool for faculty to monitor and evaluate program effectiveness. By organizing, sampling and assessing student achievement, assessment ePortfolios can demonstrate collective program outcomes, not only showing what students know and can do but also how they learn through reflection. 

What should I consider when using assessment ePortfolios?

From the beginning have a clear set of learning objectives and evaluation criteria that students and the class as a whole need to meet through content choices, artifact selection and reflection.

A platform with analytic and reporting capabilities will be especially useful for conducting course-wide evaluations and sharing results with peers and administrative staff.

Additional resources

ePortfolio teaching resources

ePortfolios in action at other universities


  • Benander, R. E., O’Laughlin, N. J., Rodrigo, R., Stevens, C. P., & Zaldivar, M. 12. How Important Is the Technology?. Field Guide to Eportfolio, 99.
  •  Chatham-Carpenter, A., Seawel, L., & Raschig, J. (2010). Avoiding the pitfalls: Current practices and recommendations for ePortfolios in higher education. Journal of Educational Technology Systems38(4), 437-456.
  •  Corley, C. R., & Zubizarreta, J. (2012). The Power and Utility of Reflective Learning Portfolios in Honors. Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council13(1), 63-76.
  •  Stevens, C., & Dunlop, M. (2012). Social capital: Determining a StuDent’S e-portfolio net Worth. Journal of Human Capital Development (JHCD)5(1), 85-98.
  •  Suskie, L. (2018). Assessing student learning: A common sense guide. Chapter 18: Assembling Evidence of Student Learning into Portfolios. John Wiley & Sons.
  •  Zubizarreta, J. (2009). The learning portfolio: Reflective practice for improving student learning. John Wiley & Sons.