Reflection, Revision, and Assessment in First-Year Composition ePortfolios

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Does revision of graded essays for an electronic portfolio improve First-Year Composition students’ scores from anonymous raters? In a sample of 450 paired essays, 46 percent improved by one or more points on a six-point scale, 28 percent remained the same, and 26 percent declined by one or more points.

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... To fully use the concept of thirdspaces, researchers and teachers need a tool to help measure learning outcomes. ePortfolios appear to be promising tools to use for measuring learning outcomes (Acker & Halasek, 2008;Desmet, Church Miller, Griffin, Balthazor, & Cummings, 2008;Lopez-Fernandez, 2009;Mauk, 2003;Van Aalst & Chan, 2007). ...
... Measuring the learning outcomes of general education courses has become an increasingly important issue for postsecondary institutions (Humphreys, 2009;Schneider, 2008; "What General Education Courses Contribute to Essential Learning Outcomes," 2009). Within this larger push for accountability and the measurement of learning outcomes, Desmet et al. (2008) have shown that ePortfolios can effectively be used as tools for assessments of the types of learning that take place in lower-divisions writing courses. They argue that electronic portfolios, "creat[e] a large centralized database of documents" and thereby make "it possible to articulate classroom and program concerns with larger institutional imperatives for measurable outcomes in assessment" (p. ...
... This ability to reflect on writing practices-and really on communication practices and rhetorical situationsappears to be heightened when using ePortfolios. Desmet et al. (2008) found "the articulation of learning as a product, is what separates formal reflection in ePortfolios from the more dispersed processes of revision involved in the various exhibits of a [traditional print-based] writing portfolio" (p. 20). ...
... In theory, much of portfolio pedagogy should carry over to e-portfolios and/or be more efficient to execute. Like paper predecessors, e-portfolios are touted for encouraging revision and process pedagogy (Elbow, 1994;Desmet et al., 2008); student ownership, collaboration, and negotiation with instructors (Clark & Eynon, 2009); and reflection (Yancey, 2009). Both types tend to be similarly evaluated through holistic scoring to determine writing competence at the end of a course by the instructor, faculty, and/or writing program administrators. ...
... To date, few studies have similarly explored what a discipline-wide move to the e-portfolio for exit assessment means in general for FYC and portfolio pedagogy, 3 though several studies describe local transitions (Corbett, 2012;Desmet et al., 2008;Day, 2009). This essay provides an overview of what these local, varied transitions to the e-portfolio, taken together, suggest about where we are heading with the portfolio as an exit tool including its relationship to multimodal composition. ...
... Furthermore, in their use of e-portfolios within FYC at University of Georgia, Desmet et al. (2008) found: ...
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•I profile four approaches FYC programs have taken transition to eportfolios.•Migration patterns suggest multimodal composition does not drive adoption.•Trends of adoption reveal choice of eportfolio is locally based.
...  Improve their academic writing (Desmet, 2008); ...
... al. 2017), was authentic, student centred and meaningful (Baird et. al. 2016;Lambe, McNair, Smith, 2013) improves student writing (Desmet 2008) and promoted independent learning (Clarke & Hornyak, 2012). ...
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This doctoral study explores the nature of the learning experience with an eportfolio and whether it enhances the development of critical thinking among online distance learners. The project adopts a case study approach, following twenty-four online distance learners over the course of one academic year. The study focuses on the case of the learner experience of eportfolio based learning and the process of developing critical thinking. The research question for the study is: Can eportfolios enhance the nature of the learning experience and the development of critical thinking among online distance learners? Data were generated using the participant eportfolio entries and two-time semi structured interviews. The participants were interviewed with their eportfolio, written, visual and physical artefacts from the participant’s eportfolio were used as stimulus during the interviews. The analytical approach for the study was thematic analysis, a data led approach following the Braun & Clarke (2006) six phases of thematic analysis. The findings were presented into five themes, which demonstrated the multifaceted nature of learning experiences with an eportfolio and its relationship with the development of critical thinking for online distance learners. The themes were; being an online distance learner, the experience of learning with an eportfolio, my approach to learning, thinking critically in my eportfolio, the sociology discipline context. Findings indicate that learning with an eportfolio can enhance the nature of the learning experience by providing learners with a personal space to evaluate their own learning, to process their thoughts and experiences and to document their lives and learning in an authentic and meaningful way. In addition, the findings suggest that learning with an eportfolio can enhance the development of critical thinking skills and dispositions within a disciplinary context.
... Several other studies have explored the impacts of the use of ePortfolios on student outcomes in postsecondary education, though these studies have been especially lacking in academic rigor. Desmet, Church Miller, Griffin, Balthazor, and Cummings (2008) conducted the most rigorous of these studies and found that, when used to support writing instruction, the use of ePortfolios was correlated with an overall mean increase in the quality of essays, though about a quarter of the students saw declines in quality of their essays. In a similar study focused on secondary students transitioning into higher education, Acker and Halasek (2008) found that student writing improved between the initial draft and the final essay, but they attributed student gains to the quantity and quality of feedback rather than the ePortfolio technology itself. ...
This research explores one university???s effort to facilitate integrative learning with a reflective ePortfolio process. Integrative learning is conceptualized using a multi-theoretical construct consisting of transfer of learning, reflective practice, and self-authorship. As part of the evaluation of this process, students completed a pre-survey and a post-survey. Two years later, a sample of students responded to a follow-up survey. These surveys contained the same 37 items, which have been reduced to five dimensions of integrative learning. The study provides strong evidence that engagement in the reflective ePortfolio process leads to integrative learning gains and that these gains are lasting. Students who engaged in the process demonstrated significant growth on all five dimensions of integrative learning. Using a delayed-treatment design to determine causation, the analysis revealed that, for all five dimensions, there was a significant, positive effect associated with engagement in the process. Results from the follow-up survey demonstrated that, for four dimensions, learning gains persisted two years later. Using three-level hierarchical linear modeling to identify differences in integrative learning gains, the study identified characteristics of students and sites that represent optimal interventions. Students who engaged in deeper reflection both started the process with stronger integrative learning abilities and experienced greater learning gains. Students of different demographic backgrounds experienced similar learning gains, though there were differences related to academic characteristics and co-curricular engagement. First-year students experienced stronger growth than sophomores on the identify knowledge, skills, and values dimension. On the pre-survey, there was an inverse relationship between academic performance and integrative learning; students in the lowest academic performance quartile reported weaker learning gains. Similarly, students in social sciences and professional fields rated themselves stronger on the professional digital identity dimension and demonstrated weaker growth. Integrative learning gains were positively associated with participation in student organizations and research projects, while students in fraternities and sororities experienced weaker learning gains. Students who had internships rated themselves stronger on the pre-survey and then experienced weaker learning gains. Students in sites with the greatest numbers of students experienced weaker gains, while there were no differences based on length of the process, term, and facilitation type.
... Use of existing course management tools to store, create, exchange, and evaluate exit portfolios might be a transitional phase over the next few years because they exist on most campuses, have a portfolio tool available (albeit with an additional cost in most cases), and students have come to expect their use (Buzzetto-More & Sweat-Guy, 2007). Other writing programs have developed closed, campus-only systems to facilitate communal exchanges of electronic portfolios such as University of Georgia's Emma tool (Desmet, Church Miller, Griffin, Balthazor, & Cummings, 2008) though these systems are also problematic due to high costs of implementation and are also typically closed systems. ...
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At the 2011 Computers and Writing Conference, Town Hall speakers were asked to envision the future. This piece extends that conversation, with contributors presenting a range of ideas, often looking backward at our history before gazing into their crystal balls to envision what the future might bring. The pieces included here discuss writing, teaching writing, writing assessment, publishing, robotics, mobility, and other aspects of the field loosely termed computers and composition as it was, is, or may come to be in what we hope will be only the start of an ongoing composition.
This chapter explores the utility and limitations of student academic e-portfolios in learning and assessment in the humanities. Whereas a substantial literature exists on the benefits of e-portfolios in education, language learning, and writing courses, the potential usefulness of e-portfolios in humanities education is lightly trodden ground. Using two case studies of the implementation of student academic e-portfolios in Hong Kong-based university history courses, this chapter considers how the e-portfolio format can support the development of both discipline-specific research ability and cross-curricular skills, such as information literacy. Furthermore, because of their online nature, e-portfolio assignments are well positioned to exploit recent developments in the digital humanities. Nevertheless, student feedback on the experience of creating an e-portfolio suggests that, while non-history major students were receptive to the low stakes and graduated nature of the assignment, a significant shift in disciplinary cultures of learning and assessment is required in order to implement e-portfolios successfully in advanced-level history courses.
The process of developing electronic teaching portfolios can be used to evaluate the teacher’s competency and guide a long-term professional development. This paper addressed the issue of assessment that is linked to the demand for accountability and standards through use of ePortfolio system. The ePortfolio system is then used as an authentication measure for students’ work. The study survey is based on two groups selected from a local university; one group used paper portfolio and the other used electronic portfolio. Data was then analyzed from these two perspectives and digital story telling. EPortfolio development involved defining goals and context of the case, the collection of artifacts, selecting relevant information, showing a reflection and a projection of how the results are produced. Results showed that ePortfolios can be easy to be designed and implemented as a learning tool.
This article presents a model of reflective writing used to assess a U.S. general education first-year writing course. We argue that integrating reflection into existing assignments has three potential benefits: enhancing assessment of learning outcomes, fostering student learning, and engaging faculty in professional development. We describe how our research-based assessment process and findings yielded insights into students’ writing processes, promoted metacognition and transfer of learning, and revealed a variety of professional development needs. We conclude with a description of our three-fold model of reflection and suggest how others can adapt our approach.
Ongoing technology innovation holds obvious promise for college writing programs with resources to invest in high-end hardware and software. However, many campuses face resource limitations that preclude the adoption of cutting-edge material innovations. As an alternative, the concept of infrastructure (DeVoss, Cushman, & Grabill, 2005) offers a means by which seemingly under-resourced writing programs can recognize and draw upon the expertise and commitment of their faculty to develop in-house technology solutions adapted to specific program needs and institutional contexts while abiding by more obvious material limitations. To illustrate the value of infrastructure, this study reports the experience of one college writing program on a large, public, urban, access-oriented campus with limited material resources that nonetheless developed a system for supporting electronic portfolios by adapting the readily available platforms of Google Docs and Google Sites. After providing a rationale for adopting electronic portfolios grounded in a rhetorically based approach to assessment, the study details the development process for this customized system as well as the collaborative relationships between faculty of different ranks (tenure-track, adjunct, and graduate student) and expertise through which the project evolved. Based on this experience, the study considers some implications that infrastructure holds for writing program administration.
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Pedagogy 4.1 (2004) 125-127 By now, portfolios are well established as tools for both learning and assessment in many U.S. colleges. English departments are no exception: first-year writing programs use them; upper-division courses implement them to showcase subject-area learning; even doctoral programs increasingly have students compile portfolios of various documents as they complete their Ph.D. work. Writing, and all learning, is something that is best assessed by viewing documents produced over time, and portfolios are increasingly seen as a way to evaluate students' work more authentically and effectively. However, as with any sound pedagogical practice, familiarity can breed complacency. There is the danger that portfolios themselves can turn into more lifeless testing documents rather than living, shifting portraits of learners, classrooms, and programs. As the pressure for standardized testing increases at the college level (to place first-year writers, to track majors, to award degrees), our portfolio pedagogy needs to simultaneously evolve and remain fresh within our own classrooms even as we articulate their importance and relevance to audiences beyond our classrooms. Considering the historical place of the portfolio in writing assessment can help us continue to rethink the place of the portfolio in college instruction. Kathleen Blake Yancey's article "Looking Back As We Look Forward: Historicizing Writing Assessment" (1999) is an important historical review of how writing assessment has shifted and changed in college composition. Although Yancey initially recounts the "waves" of assessment that have broken, and receded, on the shores of college composition, her metaphor also offers a new way to consider how educational reforms might come—and seem to go—in the teaching of English. Yancey presents a way to view writing assessment practices in college writing education over the past fifty years in a historicized, but not simplified, manner. Ultimately, she demonstrates how the writing-process movement made space for more recent conceptions of portfolios as complex, multifaceted, shifting assessments of learning. Yancey discusses the history of writing assessment from the 1950s on, but for the purposes of this essay, I will focus on the latter part of her article. However, I will briefly mention the first "wave" of assessment she discusses (1950s-1970s) because so much of this is still surprisingly relevant to our needs today. During this time, Yancey (1999: 486) reports, the "process of deciding what to teach the students belonged to educators . . . the process of moving students about, to testing specialists." This perspective on students resurfaces in our institutions today, making Yancey's questions profitable ones for all teachers to consider: These questions are not easy to answer, but we English professors must consider them seriously. What is it we are trying to learn about students with our assessment practices? What does our (writing) assessment privilege? How might students create a self through a portfolio that reflects a sense of selves, rather than a smooth portrait of an autonomous self? What do we want the distance to be between our classrooms and the chosen writing assessment? Standardized, "objective" tests are already dominant in K-12 instruction, and they are increasingly held up as a panacea for the problems of college teaching. We must be able to communicate with administrators, colleagues, and public constituencies about appropriate assessment in English: who should implement it, what it is, and how it can work. As direct measures of writing (i.e., actual writing samples) gained prominence in writing assessment throughout the 1970s and 1980s, portfolios were increasingly seen not just as a way to place or to track but as a "means of knowing for both student and teacher" (497). Crediting Faigley and Berlin, Yancey (498) notes that if "education ultimately and always is about identity formation," then writing assessment "plays a crucial role in...
Analyzing Revision College Composition and Communication
  • Lester Faigley
  • Stephen P Witte
Faigley, Lester, and Stephen P. Witte. " Analyzing Revision. " College Composition and Communication, 32.4 (1981): 400-14..
The Electronic Portfolio Development Process Available online at
  • Helen Barrett
Barrett, Helen. " The Electronic Portfolio Development Process. " Available online at [cited 9 February, 2007].