LaGuardia and the ePortfolio Field

faculty presentation on ePortfolio

In May 2008, Dr. Kathleen Blake Yancey suggested that ePortfolios were a leading element in a “tectonic shift” in higher education. Yancey, the Kellogg Hunt Professor of English at Florida State University and former president of the National Council of Teachers of English, spoke to hundreds of e-Portfolio practitioners gathered at a landmark ePortfolio conference held here at LaGuardia Community College. She argued that ePortfolios radically alter how students learn, how faculty teach, and how institutions assess the value of their education—that ePortfolios are literally remaking the landscape of higher education.

This is a bold claim. However, there is something to it.As data from the most recent Campus Computer Survey suggests, the ePortfolio movement has grown dramatically in significance over the past decade. Linked to sweeping economic, demographic, political, and technological changes, the ePortfolio is an increasingly salient feature in US higher education.

bar chart of growth in colleges using ePortfolios from 2003 - 2010

As this data suggests, many US campuses have launched ePortfolio projects in the past five years.  This is true at in all sectors of American higher education.  Meanwhile, usage the ePortfolio is expanding rapidly overseas, particularly in Europe and Australia.
In the US, a list of some of the well-known colleges and universities that implement ePortfolio includes:  Boston University, Clemson University, the Dallas County Community College District, Florida State University, Johns  Hopkins University, Indiana University/Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI), Miami Dade Community College, Portland State University, San Francisco State University, Virginia Tech, and the University of Michigan.  More  than half of the campuses in CUNY are using ePortfolios in some way, with particularly active programs at Bronx, Lehman, Queens, City Tech, Queensborough, Hunter, Staten Island, the School for Professional Studies, the Macauley Honors College, and the New Community College.  LaGuardia’s ePortfolio program is the largest in CUNY, and is well-known and respected nationwide.

Colleges implement ePortfolio for many different reasons, and in many different ways.   In the largest terms, it ’s possible to summarize the field and say that there are four main different types of ePortfolio projects:

  • Assessment ePortfolios, where the audience is internal to the institution and the goal is to support institutional outcomes assessment
  • Career/Transfer ePortfolios, where the audience is external, and the goal is to provide students with a tool for showcasing their achievements to employers or transfer institutions
  • Learning ePortfolios, where the audience is students themselves, and the goal is helping students examine and reflect on their learning

LaGuardia‘s ePortfolio practice aims to combine all of these goals through our use of a multifaceted ePortfolio structure and pedagogy. This approach could be understood as a fourth type of ePortfolio, the Integrative ePortfolio, which addresses all of the three different types of goals and audiences.  LaGuardia’s approach is also integrative in the sense that it highlights integrative learning, helping students connect their learning across disciplines and semesters, and helping them link their academic learning with their lived experience of work, family, and community life.

As the ePortfolio field has grown and matured, organizations and networks have emerged, serving as the connective ligaments of the field.  A partial list of these groups would include:

  • AAEEBL (Association for Authentic, Experiential & Evidence-Based Learning)  Founded in 2009, AAEEBL is the emerging international professional association for ePortfolio practitioners.
  • AAC&U (Association of American Colleges & Universities) a leading national higher education organization, sponsors an annual national ePortfolio Forum, and has created the VALUE rubrics as a way of strengthening the use of ePortfolio for assessment.
  • ePortfolio Action & Communication (ePAC)  is a far-flung network, knit together through a blog and web-based interaction.
  • Inter/National Coalition for ePortfolio Research Active since 2004, this  network of organizations works together to study the impact of ePortfolio on their campuses.
  • International Journal of ePortfolio Research  is the first scholarly journal focused on ePortfolio.  Launched in January 2011, it is  hosted by Virginia Tech.
  • Making Connections National Resource Center  Based at LaGuardia Community College, the Making Connections National Resource Center provides programs and resources to the field.  Founded in 2008, and funded by FIPSE and the Title V program of the US Department of Education, Making Connections has done intensive work with 50 different campuses nationwide.

Through Making Connections, LaGuardia is deeply engaged with supporting, advancing, and learning from the broader ePortfolio field.  We value collaboration as a particularly meaningful and effective way to advance authentic student learning at LaGuardia, around CUNY, and across higher education.
For more information about the ePortfolio field, please visit any of the links provided in this article.  See also “ePortfolio at 2.0:  Surveying the Field,” by J. Elizabeth Clark and Bret Eynon, Peer Review, Winter 2009.