e-Portfolios and Assessment

2013 AAC & U General Education and Assessment conference

The increasing cost of an undergraduate degree has led many to question if a college education is worth the price. How much do students learn and improve in their four years of college? What evidence is there that undergraduate programs are helping students to progress? These questions led BU’s College of General Studies (CGS) to implement an ongoing assessment project that uses a rubric designed by the College based on models developed by the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

The project began in 2008, when CGS required all freshmen in its program (about 700 students) to set up e-Portfolios for archiving their formal and informal academic work and reflections; the implementation was supported by a generous grant from the Davis Educational Foundation. In 2009, e-Portfolios were used in all sophomore courses, too; students who finished the CGS program in May 2011 had all their major assignments and reflections recorded on personal e-Portfolio sites.

In the spring of 2011, the College began to assess students’ progress using the e-Portfolios and the rubric. The rubric focuses assessment on seven areas: (1) written and oral communication, (2) analysis and documentation of sources, (3) awareness of historic and cultural contexts, (4) understanding of rhetorical and aesthetic conventions, (5) critical thinking and perspective-taking, (6) quantitative skills, and (7) integrative and applied learning. A student’s level of competency is assessed (measured on levels one through four, with four being excellent) in each of these areas for each of his or her four semesters at CGS. The assessments provide quantitative and qualitative data, offering richer and more nuanced pictures of student progress than assessment tests could.

Sample Student e-Portfolios:

Students: Instructions for setting up your e-Portfolio can be found here.