Appendix 1: Electronic Portfolios

Electronic Portfolios, or ePortfolios, are electronic collections—curricular and reflective—accumulated over time, that showcase a student’s work during the course of his or her University education.

Thus, ePortfolios can document evidence of learning over the course of a student’s personal development, and are effective at charting intellectual growth (given that at a university like BU a student is exposed to multiple measures of assessment in courses, in co- and extra-curricular experiences, in internships, and in a variety of learning communities and social networks). Simply put, an entire BU experience can be captured in an ePortfolio to make learning visible on a website with multimedia collections of a student’s academic, emotional, and social development over his or her career. Beyond giving this “new sense of accomplishment,” ePortfolios can be effective at helping to unite a university. At present, several ongoing ePortfolio projects at BU have demonstrated the effectiveness of this pedagogy.

ePortfolios available to the entire Boston University community create several immediate benefits:

  • Instructors could explore pedagogical approaches at the disciplinary and interdisciplinary levels to make teaching (not just learning) visible. The ePortfolio holds great potential for faculty to design collaborative projects and to make connections between courses.
  • Accreditation processes for our professional schools, as well as the University, benefit greatly from an electronic archive of student work that can be sorted and indexed to support educational goals. Currently, such work is collected and sorted by each professor by hand.
  • A student deciding on a major would be able to access ePortfolios of seniors in that major, providing detailed information that is invaluable in the decision process. Similarly, a student considering a course outside of the major could access the ePortfolio sections of former students, providing an array of perspectives on the material in the course and on the specific learning outcomes. For example, an engineering student interested in religion could access work by past students or view videos of their presentations in the course.
  • ePortfolios encourage technical competency in all members of the University’s community, advancing a fluency in this area that is necessary in our technological and global world.
  • Advisors could use ePortfolios in tracking students’ academic progress, guiding students’ professional interests, and determining and encouraging students’ choices in study abroad programs and internships. For advisors, the ePortfolios could be a significant, and visible, illustration of a BU undergraduate’s maturation during his or her years at the University.
  • During the University’s Admissions Open Houses period, current students could access and exhibit ePortfolios as a way of showcasing to new students the breadth and diversity of experiences and education available at Boston University.

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