Using reflective e-portfolios to promote student learning in the transition to higher education Serena Bufton Ester Ehiyazaryan Sheffield Hallam University, UK
The Context A first-year assessed skills and support module on a large, social science degree. Assessed personal/academic development planning introduced in 2001. Evidence of lack of engagement and general dislocation and alienation amongst students.
How may e-portfolios help? E-portfolio use may encourage: greater ownership of learning; integrative learning; more reflective, intentional learning; pedagogic innovation.
Research Project PebblePad e-portfolio tool introduced for first-year students in January 2007. Assessed PDP work carried out using the tool. Analysis of 30 PDPs. Four focus-group meetings, three with students and one with tutors.
Dimensions of Intentional Learning Taking responsibility Taking stock Taking Action
Taking Responsibility: Challenges Identified by Students Looser external direction and time- management. A less personalised learning context. Unfamiliar academic conventions. Loss of motivation.
How can e-portfolio help? Facilitates frequent and speedy on- going support and feedback. Provides an additional channel of communication and a forum for sharing and collaborative work. Becomes a focus for the integration of learning across modules and levels. Encourages ownership of learning.
Taking Stock: Challenges Identified by Students Lack of understanding of feedback provided by tutors: referencing analysis creativity Little experience of assessing own academic strengths and weaknesses.
How can e-portfolio help? Provides a window on students thought processes and a space for exploring feedback. Structures the process of self assessment and links it to an evidential base. Encourages students to make links between their feedback and reflections in different modules.
Taking Action: Challenges Identified by Students Feedback not viewed as: actionable a basis for on-going dialogue Students distracted by more mundane (but pressing) challenges such as time management. Students are uncertain about how to evaluate the actions they take.
How can e-portfolio help? Provides an additional vehicle for on- going, contextually-based dialogue with other students and tutors. The iterative cycle of work, feedback and reflection and the linking of past, present and future learning encourage a more holistic approach to learning.
Further research We are tracking these students in their second and third years to see what use they make of their e-portfolios. Our central question is whether, and how, e-portfolio use helps students to reflect upon and improve their learning. An additional interest is the pedagogic potential of e-portfolios more generally.