ePortfolios for creative arts, music and
arts students in Australian universities
Final Report 2015
Lead institution: Sydney Conservatorium of Music, The University of
Partner institutions: Curtin University, University of Western Sydney,
Griffith University (Brisbane Conservatorium of Music)
Project leader: Dr Jennifer Rowley
Team members: Associate Professor Peter Dunbar-Hall, Associate
Professor Diana Blom, Professor Dawn Bennett, Mr Matthew
Report authors: Dr Jennifer Rowley, Associate Professor Peter
Dunbar-Hall, Associate Professor Diana Blom, Professor Dawn
Bennett, Mr Matthew Hitchcock
Community website: www.capaeportfolios.ning.com
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 2
Support for the production of this report has been provided by the Australian Government
Office for Learning and Teaching. The views expressed in this report do not necessarily
reflect the views of the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching.
With the exception of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, and where otherwise noted, all
material presented in this document is provided under Creative Commons
ShareAlike 4.0 International License
The details of the relevant licence conditions are available on the Creative Commons
website (accessible using the links provided) as is the full legal code for the Creative
Requests and inquiries concerning these rights should be addressed to:
Office for Learning and Teaching
Department of Education and Training
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Location code N255EL10
Sydney NSW 2001
ISBN: 978-1-76028-688-0 [PDF]
ISBN: 978-1-76028-689-7 [DOCX]
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 3
The project leader and the team members acknowledge their institutions’ support for the
project – in particular, the project manager, Siobhain O’Leary, the research assistance of
Wendy Brooks, Hugh Cotton and Athena Lil, and the technology adviser John Taylor.
The CAPA ePortfolio project team thanks the hundreds of individual students who
responded to the surveys and participated in the focus groups, interviews and student
encounter days. We extend our appreciation to the staff at the four institutions, the many
colleagues who provided constructive and developmental feedback, and the five members
of the project steering committee, and our external evaluators who actively participated
and offered expert professional guidance. We also acknowledge the support of the
ePortfolios Australia Network and Pebble Australia.
Sydney Conservatorium of Music,
The University of
Dr Jennifer Rowley (team leader)
Sydney Conservatorium of Music
Associate Professor Peter Dunbar
University of Western Sydney
Associate Professor Diana Blom
Professor Dawn Bennett
Queensland Conservatorium of
Music, Griffith University
Mr Matthew Hitchcock
Queensland University of
Ms Wendy Harper
Sydney Conservatorium of Music
Associate Professor Stephanie
McCallum (Piano Unit)
Mr Matthew Smith,
Sydney Conservatorium of Music
Associate Professor Kathleen Nelson,
(Chair, Musicology Unit)
Sydney Conservatorium of Music
Professor Matthew Hindson,
(Chair, Composition Unit)
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 4
List of acronyms used
List of acronyms used
Numerous terms are commonly used for electronic portfolios, including ‘eFolio’, ‘iFolio’,
portfolio’, and ‘web folio’. We use ‘ePortfolio’ throughout this report, even when this
differs from that used by cited authors.
Creative and Performing Arts
University of Western Sydney
Queensland Conservatorium of Music, Griffith University
Sydney Conservatorium of Music
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 5
This report presents the findings of a 30-month
project at four Australian universities, where we
documented the impact of student electronic portfolio use on teaching and learning in music and
other creative and performing arts. From November 2011 to April 2014, the creative and performing
arts ePortfolio project (CAPA-eP) has refined and validated ePortfolio practices to support and
enhance quality learning and teaching by university staff. Various terms are used for electronic
portfolios, among them ‘e-folio’, ‘e-portfolio’, ‘i-folio’, ‘i-portfolio’, ‘web-folio’
This report uses the
term ‘ePortfolio’ to cover all of these terms.
Researchers from Curtin University, Griffith University, The University of Sydney, the University of
Western Sydney used and evaluated ePortfolios in their teaching of music and other creative and
performing arts during the 30-month
period. In addition to investigating the effects of ePortfolios
on students, their identity, and the enhancement of learning in a technology environment, we
report the impact on teachers and their responses to teaching through the use of ePortfolios. The
ways in which students’ learning and academics’ teaching respond to the use of ePortfolios differ
between the universities: each has different degrees in these disciplines and different policies and
uses for ePortfolio based
The ePortfolio project was driven by the learning process rather than the technological tool and it is
expected that the findings of this study can inform future curriculum, policy and practice for
creative and performing arts students in Australian tertiary institutions. The creative application
and development of an ePortfolio as a pedagogic innovation in learning and teaching in higher
education lies in strategies that students acquire for selecting authentic evidence to document
achievements and skills as graduates. ePortfolio development involves problem solving, decision-
reflection, organisation, and critical thinking by students developing a learning ‘story’ that
accurately represents skills learnt and competencies developed. This report documents the
pedagogic and technological undertaking of ePortfolio development for creative and performing
arts students and explores how student-artists perceive themselves, and their choice of evidence
selected to showcase development; this highlights aspects of artistic identity versus professional
career identity, and the ways in which these different identities are engaged during ePortfolio
construction and, subsequently, when an ePortfolio is used to represent a student’s profile.
The most significant outcomes are: a community website for exchanging information about
ePortfolios among the wider public (http:/www.capaeportfolios.ning. com); an open-source
to provide practical assistance for university students and staff in designing and using ePortfolio
(http:/www.eportfolioassist.com.au); national and international refereed conference presentations,
refereed journal papers, and book chapters (see Appendix A); two student encounter days focusing
presentations of their own ePortfolios and including staff professional learning
This report summarises data from the experiences of academics and students where an ePortfolio
has been implemented into curriculum for creative and performing arts degree programs from
November 2011 to March 2014 (Table 1). The results show that ePortfolios allow students to
demonstrate their artistic capabilities, and increased their ability to plan, implement and assess their
learning reflectively and to understand documentation relevant to performing arts careers. Students
developed greater competencies in their educational beliefs, pedagogical skills, university generic
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 6
attributes, technological expertise, and ability to address the parameters commonly used by
employer groups and professional bodies.
Through exploring each institution’s experience, we found that ePortfolio creation allows students
to achieve a demonstration of artistic capabilities in performance, music technology, musicology,
composition and writing. We showed that students increase their ability to plan, implement and
assess their learning reflectively and to understand documentation relevant to a career. An
ePortfolio is a valuable tool to document students’ learning and to use this for future employment as
a graduate. The literature published from the project and the case studies demonstrate an overall
agreed intention to implement ePortfolio with students of music and the creative arts. ePortfolios
are beneficial to students in many ways, although the approach differs at each institution. In
individual subjects, ePortfolios are a tool for assessment, for encouraging student interactions, and
for the collation of small, discrete tasks through which achieving the objectives of a subject can be
seen from a student perspective.
The role of an ePortfolio and its use in music and other creative and performing arts areas in each of
the universities is explained in Chapter 1. Chapter 2 sets out the approach and provides a selection
of significant literature that framed the project. In Chapter 3 we document the data and results from
both students and staff members using ePortfolios in their teaching and learning, and reveal
changes to teaching and learning as a result of ePortfolio. Comments derived from semi-structured
interviews with both students and staff members are included. The results of the project indicate
how teaching in music and other creative and performing arts can benefit from the incorporation of
ePortfolios into tertiary teaching and learning. The conclusory Chapter 4 describes how the use of
ePortfolios relates to changes in assessment procedures by staff, of how it demonstrates the
longitudinal nature of study in music and other creative and performing arts, the ability of
ePortfolios to provide holistic views of university learning, and the significance to staff and students
of ePortfolios as representations of the multiple identities that music students develop during their
Our recommendations are that successful implementation of ePortfolios involves:
1. Investigating and selecting appropriate platforms for specific discipline areas, rather than
adopting generic platforms.
2. Training both students and staff.
3. Modelling their use by staff so that students see their uses, relevance and potential.
4. Integrating then into the curriculum, taking into consideration their ability to change styles
of learning and teaching.
5. Using them appropriately as an assessment tool.
6. Developing and communicating clear justifications for their use and explanations of their
7. Support by universities at policy and implementation levels.
8. The potential for ongoing access to and use after students have graduated.
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 8
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements ......................................................................................................................... 3
List of acronyms used....................................................................................................................... 4
Executive summary .......................................................................................................................... 5
Table of Contents ............................................................................................................................. 8
Tables and Figures (Appendix A) ...................................................................................................... 9
Chapter 1: Aims, background and approach.................................................................................. 10
Chapter 2: Literature review and method ..................................................................................... 14
Chapter 3: Significance and innovation – learning and teaching outcomes ................................. 18
Chapter 4: Conclusions, outputs and outcomes ............................................................................ 25
References ..................................................................................................................................... 30
Appendix A: Tables and Figures ..................................................................................................... 35
Appendix B: Survey questions........................................................................................................ 41
Appendix C: Independent evaluation report ................................................................................. 42
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 9
Tables and Figures (Appendix A)
Table 1: Data collection items and chronology
Table 2: Annotated bibliography and several literature reviews compiled across 2011–14 as
part of the project
Table 3: Survey of ePortfolio use at QCGU November 2013
Figure 1: Data were collected across the four participating institutions using various
collection tools and recording formats.
Figures 2 & 3: Curtin University data collection
Figure 4: Queensland Conservatorium of Music (Griffith University) data collection
Figures 5 & 6: The University of Sydney data collection
Figure 7: The University of Western Sydney data collection
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 10
Chapter 1: Aims, background and approach
The creation of an ePortfolio often relies on a student’s ability to collect, reflect and select
material that is appropriate to an indicated goal, and to exercise the management of their
knowledge in such a way that contributes to linking a range of skills – especially pedagogy
and technology. The CAPA ePortfolio project provided tertiary students from numerous
performing and creative arts degree programs in four Australian universities with skills to
create an electronic portfolio (ePortfolio) in which they were able to document their
academic and artistic outcomes for future employment and/or enhanced employability in
the arts sector. Given the strong impact that ePortfolios have had on the higher education
sector in areas of teaching and learning (e.g. previous ALTC grants at Queensland University
of Technology – AePP), this project enhanced the development of strategies for tertiary
creative and performing artists to document skills acquired and outcomes achieved as
beginning artists, and future teachers themselves. Teaching is a key component of artists’
career portfolios, and the potential for an ePortfolio to enhance opportunities in this realm
was previously unexplored.
The creative application and development of ePortfolios as an innovation in higher education
learning and teaching was revealed in the strategies students acquired to select authentic
evidence and document achievements and skills as a graduate music and performance
studies artist. The CAPA ePortfolio project enabled both students and teachers to consider
crucial issues of salient identity and holistic career planning, leading to a more strategic
selection of evidence to showcase their development. By highlighting aspects of artistic
identity versus professional career identity, the project led to new insights regarding the
training of artists. It involved students in exploring their known information and
communication technology (ICT) skills and, at times, extending these beyond their
expectations. Drawing on the results of previous ePortfolio projects, the literature, and the
resources available at each institution, the aim of the project was to provide a range of
ePortfolio templates for use by music, performance studies, and visual and creative arts
students in Australian universities. This aim is visible through the ePortfolioAssist website,
which will be accessible to the public from April 2014 to April 2017.
The rationale behind this project is informed by the literature on ePortfolios. It builds on the
work of Hallam et al. (2008, 2009), Oliver and Nikoletatos (2009) and Oliver (2010), in
previously funded ALTC projects. Specifically, it puts into practice recommendations of Hallam
et al. to increase the understanding of the potential of ePortfolios in the university sector, to
further the relationship between higher education and vocational education, to provide a
medium for lifelong learning, to investigate ePortfolios in a cross-institutional setting, and to
use ePortfolio as a means to enhance learning and teaching (Hallam et al., 2009). It extends
the work of Oliver and Nikoletatos (2009), who explored ePortfolios as a tool to measure
graduate attributes. Other research into the introduction of ePortfolios for university
students focuses mostly on their generic use rather than their applications in discipline-
areas (e.g. Gülbahar & Tinmaz, 2006; Reardon, Lumsden & Meyer, 2005; Hallam et al.,
2008; Hallam et al., 2009). One area that has been investigated widely is that of teacher
education (Adamy & Milman, 2009; Imhof & Picard, 2009; Wetzel & Strudler, 2005); in music
studies, only the area of music education has been specifically researched as a site of
ePortfolio use (Bauer & Dunn, 2003). Therefore, the purpose of this project was to devise
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 11
ePortfolios beyond this – into other areas of music and other creative and performing arts
studies not currently investigated: composition, creative writing, musicology, performance,
music professional practice, and performance studies. This rationale covers:
• the need to develop music-, creative/performing arts, and arts-specific ePortfolio
templates to aid the creation of student ePortfolios (depending on institution-
• the evaluation of these in cross
• the intention to prepare students to be technologically astute in presenting
themselves to future employers, grantmaking bodies, and potential institutions for
• the need to teach students how to use ePortfolios in these contexts; and
• the provision of staff development to enhance learning and teaching (especially the
IT teaching context) at the collaborating institutions.
Since their introduction into university learning and teaching in the early 1990s, ePortfolios
have become standard artefacts through which students collate, archive, reflect on, and
present the outcomes of their studies. For teaching staff, they have become a valuable tool
for assessment and are a measurable influence on curriculum design. Student-created
ePortfolios are a useful tool as an institutional capstone object in the form of a final,
summative product through which a student collates work completed throughout a degree
program and demonstrates both knowledge gained and skills developed. The scope of their
use ranges from single-task assignments to representations of student progression
throughout degree programs.
Used as capstone artefacts (either at the completion of a subject/course/unit of study or at
the end of a whole degree program), ePortfolios have other implications. They provide a
longitudinal view of a student’s learning over a complete degree program in a scaffolded way
that encourages students’ interpretations of their learning as incremental. The ePortfolio
outcomes show that the process of developing electronic portfolios promotes aa technology-
enriched environment for arts students to cultivate their identity, learning and knowledge;
often the requirement to construct and disseminate an ePortfolio acts as the impetus for
students to develop more sophisticated technological skills; so ePortfolios play a role in
ongoing technological upskilling. Exploring real-world
experiences through an ePortfolio
allows arts students to engage with technology such that their learning is enhanced and
creative identity strengthened. Exploring arts students’ identities through ePortfolio work
provides students with options, opportunities and a space to continue their learning in a
ePortfolios have attracted research interest since the 1990s, with an increase in publications
on issues surrounding their use. Specifically in the performing arts, a small amount of
research in the late 1990s by Castiglione (1996), Moss (1997) and McGreevy-Nichols
has been followed by widening exposure of discussions of the applications, roles and
significance of ePortfolios generally – but not specifically in the creative and performing arts.
This project, therefore, was an essential piece of the ePortfolio development puzzle that
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 12
researched how arts students could use ePortfolios as a tool for deeper learning, greater
understanding of their skills and a vehicle for identity development that broadened their
work readiness/graduate employability. This project builds on significant research undertaken
in 2009–11 by staff at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (SCM), The University of Sydney,
to introduce ePortfolios for students undertaking undergraduate music education training
(n=95). This research designed, implemented, and evaluated ePortfolios that students used to
• musical capabilities in performance, composition, and ensemble direction;
• the ability to plan, implement, and assess teaching;
• knowledge of government education policies;
• understanding of documentation relevant to teaching in schools and other careers;
• educational and pedagogical skills;
• technological skills; and
• the ability to address employment parameters required by employer groups and such
professional bodies as the NSW Institute of Teachers (the teacher accreditation body
Because individual students in creative and performing arts have different needs and
expectations of their future, an ePortfolio can assist students to reflect on their present and
dream about their future. A dream can be a reflection and a portfolio is a perfect reflective
tool. The University of Sydney research had a major impact on students through the use of
ePortfolios for music education and has achieved a number of definable outcomes:
• the uptake of ePortfolios by other faculties at The University of Sydney increased,
• the music education ePortfolios have been showcased at University-wide
and Teaching colloquium in May 2012;
• the research generated multiple publications and national/international conference
presentations (Dunbar-Hall, Rowley, Webb & Bell, 2010; Dunbar-Hall, Rowley, Bell &
Taylor, 2012; Rowley, 2011; Rowley & Dunbar-Hall, 2011; Taylor, Dunbar-Hall &
Rowley, 2012; Rowley & Dunbar-Hall, 2012; Rowley, Dunbar-Hall, Bell & Taylor,
• there was a positive impact on students preparing for employment as music teachers
has been evidenced through the production of professional portfolios at a high
standard, which has been noted by music teachers and employers;
• there was evidence among music education students of adeptness in the use of
technology for pedagogical purposes and the development of strategies of self-
reflection and analysis using the ePortfolio;
• the finding that integrating ePortfolio components into music education courses
requires academic staff to rethink assessment procedures;
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 13
• students have been provided with an observable, holistic, and usable outcome of
their degree program;
• research staff working on the project developed expertise in ePortfolio use, design,
implementation and integration into the curriculum.
There were extensive trials of ePortfolio for music education students and staff at The
University of Sydney as a digital record of achievement that has the ability to store print
media, graphics, audio files and audiovisual material. The music education project began with
the objective of collecting evidence to document achievement of teacher professional
standards; the researchers discovered that ePortfolio was a positive impact on student
learning. Not only did students create tools and strategies to make them useable for future
employment, but the ePortfolios enhanced learning broadly across their teacher-training
program. Students engaged in the process of learning and as a result they reported the
development of strategies demonstrating being better equipped as performing and creative
ePortfolios proved to be easily disseminated at the students’ invitation via email, as a link to
The University of Sydney’s commercial ePortfolio platform, and could be continually updated
as each user’s needs, qualifications and experience developed. (ePortfolio platforms can be
commercial or freeware available unsupported on the internet). The project uncovered and
identified that students take ownership and rework their portfolio to reflect the person they
see themselves as, and at times, acknowledge a degree of conflict about their identity. This
foundational research supported the claims in the literature that the use of the ePortfolio is
not just as a tool for accreditation but a powerful tool in career planning. Music education
ePortfolios acted as capstone objects, were intended for use in job applications, and were
designed to address the requirements of professional teacher accreditation (Dunbar-Hall,
Rowley, Webb & Bell, 2010; Dunbar-Hall, Rowley, Bell & Taylor, 2012). Their implementation
had been analysed for their advantages to student learning and self-reflection
their implications for curriculum design (Rowley & Dunbar-Hall,
2011), their IT requirements
& Rowley, 2012), and their relationships to assessment (Rowley &
Dunbar-Hall, 2012) and accreditation (Rowley, Dunbar-Hall,
Bell & Taylor, 2012).
Considering The University of Sydney music education project achievements, it was clear
that there is a need to develop specific ePortfolio templates for music students in other
areas of specialisation (e.g. composition, musicology, performance, music technology, and
music Professional Practice), and in other areas of the creative and performing arts (e.g.
Theatre, film/TV) to be tested, along with the already identified strategies. Thus, here we
report on data gathered from each institution in the CAPA-eP project on their approach to
ePortfolios, their introduction, contents and applications from its own perspective.
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 14
Chapter 2: Literature review and method
By integrating a technologically driven process into students’ programs of study, this project
prompted a significant change in the culture of tertiary music, creative/performing arts, and
arts studies. It focused on an emerging form of professional preparation for students and
taught students how to use relevant technology for their own purposes. It addressed
individual students’ needs in that each student has her/his own method of progression
through a music or performance studies degree program; exhibited her/his own
musical/performance learning, tastes, interests, and professional direction; and combined
differing levels of performance, pedagogy, composition, and research. No two students have
the same study program or musical/artistic backgrounds and outcomes; by creating the
possibility of individualised ePortfolios, this project drew heavily on and emphasised student
Each set of students, we found, requires different ways of demonstrating their
artistic/musical/professional skills; ePortfolios are different from conventional approaches in
their possibilities for inclusions and modes of digitisation. The project’s value lay in provision
of ePortfolio templates that can be directly related to the learning and teaching content of
Australian music and other creative and performing arts degrees, thus addressing a need.
Such ePortfolios not only offer the means for music and performance studies students to
represent themselves in an electronic format – with a direct relationship to employment
opportunities – but have the ability to enhance learning and teaching at the partner
institutions, to refashion the ways students perceive their studies, to integrate digital
information and its presentation into students’ experiences, and to change the ways in which
students and staff respond to the outcomes of study. The project has extended the work of
ePortfolio project (2009–11) to a national level through the involvement of
institutions form around Australia, responding to a current lack of ePortfolio templates
specifically intended for use by creative arts, music and arts students. It has effectively
doubled the existing published literature in the field of CAPA ePortfolio
Research on ePortfolios is strongly represented from writers in Britain and the US, but with
regular contribution from researchers in Australia, Canada, Europe, and Scandinavia – all
locations where educational technology is well established and economically supported, and
where its use is an expectation of education systems. Alongside discussion of ePortfolios in
generic research publications for education, and those devoted to music and performing arts
education, investigation of ePortfolios has become the topic of dedicated journals,
professional associations, conferences, and web sites. The literature surrounding the study of
ePortfolios in universities has covered a range of conceptual areas, including their framing as
a site of learning (Stefani et al., 2007; Akçil & Arap, 2009); as encouragement of student
reflection on learning (Doig et al., 2006); as identity definition (McAlpine, 2005); in terms of
the institutional implications (Joyes, et al., 2010); the use of ePortfolios to encourage peer
assessment (Stevenson, 2006); and consideration of university students as attracted to and
adept users of current technologies for social and educational networking, such as Facebook
and Linkedin (Oliver & Goerke, 2007; Hemmi et al., 2009; Gray et al., 2010). These outcomes
of investigating ePortfolios and their relevance to tertiary education laid the foundations for
this project’s momentum and research direction.
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 15
Our research was qualitatively based, and surveys, individual interviews and focus group
interviews were major ways of deriving impressions of ePortfolio use (Table 1 in Appendix A).
To ensure a degree of comparability across the institutions, an initial set of open-ended
question topics was designed from which specific,
questions could be
tailored. These covered:
• student choices of ePortfolio content; reasons for content choice;
• perceived uses of ePortfolios during study and after graduation;
• problems encountered in ePortfolio
• how an ePortfolio related to learning; aspects of ePortfolios directly related to
students’ chosen creative/performing arts specialisations;
• relationships, if any, between ePortfolios and the use of social networking sites; and
• technological aspects of making and disseminating an ePortfolio.
In line with the institutional differences outlined above, each institution also used research
questions relevant to their own ePortfolio profile. In total, our findings on student
ePortfolios in music and other creative and performing arts are based on interactions with
The first stage of the project was to build on the work already completed in the design and
implementation of ePortfolios for students in the music education degree program at the
lead institution, SCM, and subsequently to extend this to students in other degree programs
(musicology, composition, performance) at SCM and partner institutions. This required
devising the needs of each set of students (through interviews with students and staff, and
reviews of professional requirements), evaluating the ‘templates’ currently in use, and
managing ePortfolio implementation. This staged process, working with each set of students
discretely and contiguously, allowed the research team to draw on the findings from each
student group and using these findings as the impetus for subsequent steps through the
project period. Trials were conducted to see if aspects are immediately transferable to other
The project leader, Dr Jennifer Rowley, consulted the steering committee individually and as
a group along with the external evaluator at regular intervals throughout the two years for
quality assurance purposes and monitoring the reliability and validity of the research. We
established a community website during the first stage, through which we reported progress
and findings for staff, students and the wider community (capaeportfolios.ning.com).
The next stage was one of curriculum design, embedding ePortfolio work into the teaching
content of relevant degree programs at all institutions. This was achieved by introducing
individual components of ePortfolios at various points throughout a degree program as
assessments. Examples from ePortfolio use by SCM was the basis of modelling the
ePortfolio products and the process of embedding electronic portfolios into the degree
programs of other institutions. Issues related to the technological aspects of ePortfolios
emerged throughout the project and the different backgrounds of institutions, staff and
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 16
students influenced both the technology benefit and challenge for students and staff.
Part of this stage of the project was two Student Encounter Days, at which staff and students
from collaborating universities and other tertiary institutions attended two single-day
symposia to discuss ePortfolios (for example, TAFE SA, TAFE NSW; ACU; UNSW; CSU; St
Augustine’s College Secondary School). These were held in September 2012 and March
2014. More than 85 students and staff attended the first encounter day and 67 attended the
second day. A total of 25 students presented their own ePortfolio work to peers and
academic staff, and team members facilitated roundtable discussions with peers about
ePortfolio. Benefits, problems and possibilities of the ePortfolio were investigated along with
future directions, including the shape and possible details of prospective ePortfolio projects.
Throughout the project, much data were collected and embedded into the approach to
informing the ‘how’, ‘when’, ‘why’, and ‘what’ of a student ePortfolio (Figures 1–7).
A substantial literature review was carried out alongside the data collection and this formed
part of the data collection and the project outcome. The literature specific to music/creative
and performing arts in the scope of student-created ePortfolios is few in number. Indeed, the
broad range of publications arising from this project has provided a solid contribution to the
CAPA – ePortfolio area of research literature. Though the pre-existing literature suggested
that there is an increasing emphasis on reflective learning and practice in higher education,
some authors posited that the nature of ePortfolios both encourages and supports this
reflective style of learning (Pelliccione & Dixon, 2008). ePortfolio usage is reported and
analysed across many disciplines in university settings (Jafari & Kaufman, 2006); however, the
uptake of ePortfolio is reported as more frequent in specific discipline
areas such as health
education (Lewis et al., 2010) and teacher education. Butler (2006) reports that teacher
education is the most advanced in use and analysis of ePortfolios, with a significant body of
literature (Penny & Kinslow, 2006; Wang, 2009; Lin, 2008; Adamy & Milman, 2009; Imhof &
Picard, 2009). In this context, ePortfolios are noted to be an ‘effective vehicle to capture the
complexities of learning, teaching, and learning to teach' (Doig et al., 2006, p. 159).
ePortfolios are seen as providing a site where a learner can reflect on and review learning
(Akçil & Arap, 2009); Barrett (2007) reports this as the critical aspect of ePortfolios. Some
authors discuss ePortfolios as demonstrations of students’ technological skills (Milman &
Kilbane, 2005; Hartley, Urish & Johnston, 2006). Lin (2008) states that student teachers who
recognise the benefits and understand the technological processes involved in designing and
making ePortfolios are more competent in using other forms of IT-assisted
instruction in their
Perhaps the most comprehensive study of ePortfolios in music teacher preparation is
Thornton et al. (2011). This study examined the value of ePortfolios in an undergraduate
music education degree as perceived by six separate stakeholder groups: current students,
student teachers, alumni, mentor teachers (tertiary practicum supervisors), employers, and
music education faculty members. In many cases in that study, students said that ePortfolios
did not provide them with meaningful reflective learning experiences due, in part, to
frustrations with attempting to use unfamiliar technology. Many students stated that they
would be unlikely to use their ePortfolio after graduating; however, about half of the alumni
surveyed noted that their ePortfolio had been of some use to them in gaining employment.
The majority of employers indicated that features of potential employees’ ePortfolios they
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 17
were most interested in were those that would traditionally have been submitted in a paper
portfolio. In its emphasis on the learning process rather than the technological tool, it is not
surprising that our results differed from those of Thornton et al. (2011).
The project gathered survey and focus-group
interview data (n=345) were collected at four
Australian tertiary institutions where ePortfolio production was extended or introduced for
creative and performing arts students. The data was analysed for impact factor on the
students’ learning experience and results showed students developed a greater
understanding of: writing reflectively, planning for their future arts careers, collaborating
and in their identity development as an arts student (Dunbar-Hall
et al., 2013).
We found that the development of the ePortfolio provided the creative and performing arts
students with critical skills (e.g. collaboration, creativity and cross-discipline
provided a mechanism for students to participate in current learning practices through
fostering reflection and collaboration with their discipline (Dunbar-Hall
et al., 2013).
Collaborative and reflective practice is at the core of higher-order thinking and learning, and
students engaging in this knowledge management allowed the ePortfolio to provide an
efficient way to collect (and archive) their learning and for students to realise the outcome of
their studies (Brooks & Rowley, 2013).
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 18
Chapter 3: Significance and innovation – learning and
The ePortfolio has the potential to be a powerful tool for all learners through the
introduction of reflection or reflective practice activities (Brooks & Rowley, 2013). Our data
suggest the real possibility that ePortfolio development will make a significant difference to
the quality of learning and professional outcomes for creative and performing artists in
Australia. It must be acknowledged here that there were significant differences at each
institution in ePortfolio technology, use and understanding in the CAPE – eP project. Many
educators use ePortfolios as a learning tool and the project has wider implications for
students in disciplines such as the fine arts and design, since it will suggest effective
strategies for compiling a folio for professional practice. This is particularly the case for arts
practice students, including those whose training involves drawing, painting, sculpting, and
all types of music and theatre. This suggests that disseminating our findings on reflection will
have potential impact on more students in tertiary study in a wide range of institutions: we
are aiming at all creative/performing arts student cohorts, including dance and
acoustic music. One of the processes undertaken in the early stages of the project was to
familiarise the research team with the different ePortfolio platforms, uses, and projects at
the individual institutions. This ‘audit’ was an outcome in itself for the project, as it assisted
in developing our collective and individual learning and teaching skills as academics (Taylor
et al., 2012).
Sydney Conservatorium of Music (SCM), The University of Sydney
Adapting the ePortfolio ‘templates’ used by music education students for students in other
degree program specialisations across SCM was the main task of this institution’s process.
The task was informed by institutional knowledge of the different potential contents and uses
of ePortfolios by students studying to enter different types of music professional placements.
Since music education students had constructed their ePortfolios with a view to addressing
accreditation criteria for employment, their ePortfolios had a level of
prescription and a ready-made
audience; students in composition, performance and
musicology do not study or work in such a pre-set
framework, therefore how their ePortfolios
would represent students’ abilities, and the uses that would be made of ePortfolios, were
more open-ended (Dunbar-Hall
et al., 2013). Similarly, while music education students were
studying in an IT-rich environment, they readily saw their ePortfolio work as relevant and
viable (Rowley & Dunbar-Hall
2011). Students in other music specialisations – especially
performance and musicology, where the IT environment was not as explicit – provided
different data in relation to their acceptance and uses of a personal digital tool (such as an
ePortfolio) and their abilities to work confidently in this context. This situation was one of the
main issues we investigated.
From the initial project at SCM, the current project saw a transfer of understandings about
and uses of ePortfolios into other areas of tertiary music study: composition, musicology, and
performance. This required the assessment of different expectations of ePortfolios from
these different types of students, and from staff involved in delivery of the specialised areas
of study in various music degree programs. The diversity of areas within music demonstrated
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 19
differing levels of student engagement with ePortfolios, ambiguities over their effectiveness
in a music-related
profession, a range of student desires to engage with ePortfolio and the
technology required to work on and through them, and a spectrum of possibilities for their
use. Early indications from surveying the musicology students in 2012 showed that they
linked ePortfolios to job hunting, but did not see that it would be applicable to their personal
career path, although they could see it as being useful to others. There was little evidence
that any of the participants had thought creatively about the possibilities of using an
ePortfolio, either personally or professionally. Broadly speaking, the composition cohort we
surveyed showed a more positive attitude towards the potential of ePortfolios, and was more
inclined to think of creative ways to use them.
By tailoring ePortfolio processes to the specialisations of these different sets of students –
composition, musicology, and performance – in Semesters 1 and 2, 2012, we saw that
students were able to use and discuss the benefit of ePortfolio for their future musical
career. In 2013 we continued to interview and work with performance students, since the
results of surveys with the composition and musicology students revealed that the
platform at The University of Sydney was not suitable for their needs. However,
numerous students commented on how using an ePortfolio had led them to think about
themselves and their studies in new ways. Comments such as ‘(it) forces you to rethink...
what was relevant, what was useful in what I learnt,’ ‘(it) can force you to reflect,’ ‘(I used it
to) reflect on how I’m performing currently,’ and ‘I had to think about how to organize an
ePortfolio’ all relate to this aspect of their use.
There was a need to train both staff and students in the use of ePortfolio processes and the
task of integrating the process of developing an ePortfolio into relevant units of study as
assessable components of study. Once this process was established as the pathway to
ePortfolio use by students at SCM, it was evaluated and adjusted so that the introduction of
ePortfolios in an ongoing manner to respond to student needs, staff perceptions and
professional expectations was addressed (Figure 3, Appendix A).
In 2014 we saw a renewed interest in the ePortfolio for composition students, since they
were transitioning from paper portfolios to online portfolios. In addition, 85 students
enrolled in the internship program (which started in 2013 at SCM) were building ePortfolios
and documenting their reflections on the work experience.
ePortfolios were introduced to staff and students at the partner institutions by integrating
into the curriculum, and evaluated for similarity and differences from one institution to
The Curtin University ePortfolio project team worked with cohorts of undergraduate
students from theatre, creative writing and feature writing, to create ePortfolios that
documented their academic and creative skills and knowledge. Performance studies is
taught at Curtin University to PhD level, and the courses form part of a thriving humanities
faculty that includes visual arts, multimedia, design, built environment, performance
studies, screen arts, creative and professional writing, and journalism. Given the complex
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 20
nature of careers in all of these sectors, the development of employability skills is a high
priority across all courses (Rowley & Bennett, 2013). Performance studies is an exciting area
in today’s media-driven
world. In this major, students learn the practical techniques and
theory involved in the world of theatre and performance. Students develop skills in
performance, directing, writing, devising, dramaturgy, critical analysis, stage management,
and theatre production. Performance studies majors complete practical and theoretical units
that explore the scope and range of theatrical performance. Most classes take the form of
practical workshops and students are given many opportunities to audition for and
participate in public productions. The on-campus
Upstairs Theatre is used for both teaching
and rehearsals, and serves as a venue for seasons of student productions. The skills and
experience gained by students as they engage in this broad suite of activities are ideally
suited to an ePortfolio approach as they can reflect on their learning in a practical way.
The focus of the project was on career planning and the development of professional
identities, with the broader intention of enhancing students’ ability to recognise and
maximise future opportunities for work and employment (Dunbar-Hall et al., 2013).
The project employed an institutional platform known as ‘iPortfolio’, which had many
thousands of users across the university but had previously received little interest
from the arts and humanities. The platform was user-friendly and offered students
lifelong access to their ePortfolio.
In phase 1 (2012 semester 1) the project worked with first- and second-year
students in theatre studies, who attended two professional development workshops and
were encouraged to create an ePortfolio over the course of one semester. None of them did,
despite being very positive about the workshops.
In phase 2 (2012 semester 2), the workshops were delivered in a
with 34 writing students who had majors in creative, professional and feature writing. The
students were provided two
workshops on how to establish an ePortfolio, and at
the end of semester students commented on the usefulness of the workshops. They also
commented that thinking about an ePortfolio had prompted them to think about the future
and what it might look like. None of them submitted ePortfolios, but some students said they
had created an ePortfolio and were considering using it as graduates.
In phase 3 (2013) the workshops were again embedded into the third-year
unit. This time they were supplemented with two elective career workshops, as requested by
the students. The researcher participated in the online blog that connected students with
peers and their lecturer during their professional placement, and students were required to
submit two career development
tools and a home page as part of their assessment for the
unit. Every student had to create an ePortfolio to meet the demands of assessment, and two-
thirds of them did far more than was required. Feedback suggests that once the students
engaged with the ePortfolio they took ownership of it and began to make it their own.
Essentially, until the ePortfolio was required as an assessment item, students did not engage
in it. The researchers believe that the deep engagement encountered this year is entirely due
to the fact it was positioned as a relevant, practical career development tool.
The impact on student learning and professional development was observed by the Curtin
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 21
based researcher, unit coordinator, and students. This is sufficient for the ePortfolio to be
embedded from 2014. Next year the ePortfolio will be introduced in semester 1, during which
students will develop the basic pages and attend a career workshop. This change has been
introduced so that by semester 2 – when the students undertake their professional practicum
(and in what is for many students the busy, final semester of study) – the ePortfolio will
already be established. This should enable students to add to it much earlier, and to develop
it over a longer period of time.
University of Western Sydney
The placement and use of the ePortfolio at the University of Western Sydney is in a capstone
professional practice unit so composers, performers, musicologists, and sound technologists
rather than just one of these groups are actively involved. Graduates from this institution find
professional work in a range of places including teaching, sound design, as sound recordists in
sound studios, performing and conducting (of some national orchestras), recording artists,
popular music industry, and music therapy.
At the University of Western Sydney, three different ePortfolio platforms were offered to
students in two subjects over three years.
The professional practice, third-year capstone subject, ‘Music Project’, requires students to
take their music practice into the community. In 2012, Bachelor of Music graduates who had
been offered use of the ePortfolio platform CareerHub to house their CV, professional
photograph, capacity statement for prospective employer in Music Project the previous year,
were asked about their use of, and possible uses for, the platform now that they had
graduated. Four students responded (16 asked, total class size 54), commenting on the
platform’s potential for indicating what has been achieved so far; that it might be used ‘when
chasing live gigs’ (but could not see how); and that it could help make contacts and get work
and/or potential clients after graduation.
In 2012, all 66 students taking Music Project were required to use Pebble+ to house a
curriculum vitae, professional photograph, capacity statement for prospective employer plus
a summary of their community project. Out of 66 students, 32 responded to a questionnaire
asking about how the platform could enhance student learning and career advancement in
undergraduate music subjects. About half were negative, with half of those comments
relating to difficulty of use. Positive responses referred to the usefulness of Pebble+ as a
submission tool for video, assignments and feedback, particularly out of hours. In relation to
Pebble+’s role in career advancement and achieving goals, more than half saw no possible
enhancement of career advancement after graduation through the use of Pebble+, but about
one eighth of the students viewed Pebble+ as being useful in its clear guidelines for their
curriculum vitae construction and storage. Despite all students completing music technology
subjects in first year, the majority found the platform difficult and needing clearer guidelines
from the teacher.
In a second-year group music performance subject, students were required to complete a
collaborative essay in pairs on a given task, writing two concert reviews together, a peer
evaluation separately, and one collaborative essay – a total of four tasks for each student. In
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 22
2012 the Learning Management System, Blackboard, was used as an ePortfolio platform for
the task and in 2013, Pebble+ was adopted for the same task. For Blackboard, challenges
(12 responses out of 87 students) focused on lack of instructions from the teacher, problems
with collaborative partners, issues uploading images/videos and formatting work, and no
understanding of why hard copy was not used. Benefits focused on ease of submission, ease
of communication via the group discussion board, and ease of insight when working
collaboratively. Challenges of using the ePortfolio platform for the written tasks (3 responses
out of 69 students) focused around the complexity of Pebble+, and therefore the double
burden when one person of the collaborating pair knows more about how to work the
program than the other person.
It was found that the Learning Management System (LMS) was easier to use, especially for
the peer evaluation of essays, than Pebble+; UWS students will return to LMS for this task in
2014. The UWS-based
researcher found that most students who were involved in the trial of
Pebble+ would use it again for the professional portfolio. The School at UWS will not be using
Pebble+ in 2014, as the cost cannot be met, especially given that freeware is available. The
researcher felt that students needed to have instruction on how to use the platform but did
not want to take time away from other topics to acquire this information. It was felt that
both platforms (Blackboard and Pebble+) are very good for collaborative work and
submission of work, and have good potential for deep analysis of video and image within an
essay, subject to ease of loadability.
In summary, negative student response to LMS Blackboard was seldom about the platform
and more about subject content and task details; negative student response to Pebble+ was
largely about the platform itself. In general, students responded that they were comfortable
using LMS Blackboard platform but found the content and tasks designed by the teacher to
be unhelpful for their undergraduate learning. Having said that, three categories of student
response emerged to Pebble+ use: (i) positive about current use and its future applicability
for undergraduate learning and after graduating; (ii) negative about current use (stressful,
difficult etc.) but positive about future applicability for undergraduate learning and after
graduating; and (iii) negative about both current and future use. This suggests that time is
required to get to know the Pebble + platform, as was possible with the LMS Blackboard
Queensland Conservatorium of Music, Griffith University
Music education at Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University (QCGU), involves
significant emphasis on preparing student awareness and skill-sets
in maintaining a
competitive primacy, since it pertains to portfolio careers. An important component of this
preparation is in the development of agency for dissemination of experience, preparedness
for professional practice, and the ability to publicly express complexity and richness across
each individual’s unique portfolio of professional and creative activities. Graduates from the
QCGU are found practising their craft in portfolio careers internationally. Graduate
destinations in a portfolio career trajectory can typically include: performance-oriented
contexts; teaching and education contexts; moving image contexts such as film, game and TV
composition, arranging, conducting and/or performing; recording studio contexts like
arranging, composing, engineering, producing, musical direction; artist management and
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 23
direction contexts, either for self or for groups and ensembles; tour and event staging,
management and promotion; consultancy contexts; and a wide variety of professional
contexts that respond to each individual’s unique skill-sets
rather than as a result of a “job
description” created by an employer. In this portfolio career landscape, it is therefore vital
that graduates be appropriately prepared throughout their tertiary education experience to
succeed in increasingly competitive job and career contexts. ePortfolios provide an
important vehicle as part of a suite of approaches that have been shown to provide a
competitive edge that further assists in focusing students’ energies on the development of
successful and viable portfolio careers.
Student engagement with the ePortfolio predominantly fits three emergent categories: the
student who is excited or inquisitive about the possibility of creating a professionally
oriented ePortfolio and engaged in the processes; the student who is ‘fearful’ of or
‘intimidated’ by the commitment to the ePortfolio; and the student who does not believe
there is relevance for them and who consequently displaying minimum engagement.
The level of reflection over time was clearly evident in student responses, going beyond a
simple sense of self-awareness
Students who engaged in reflection used their awareness to
evaluate their own thinking to better understand their progression, goals and achievements
(King & Kitchener, 1994). Further, a sense of self-efficacy was heightened in the process of
reflecting, resulting in a sense of resiliency in the face of obstacles such as self-doubt
We observed the successful use of freely available open-source software and rich-media
social networking/media sites such as SoundCloud and YouTube. This proved to focus
conversations on intellectual and creative pursuits and drastically reduced technocentric
conversations. Software used by each student for their ePortfolios has predominantly been
raised in discussion by students when comparing and contrasting the benefits of different
platforms to each other, or in asking advice as to recommendations of where to start. There
were reports by students who found it easy to access and negotiate technical assistance from
online and face-to-face
community participation. Students also commented on what they
saw as the effective aspects of using the software.
Some students noted that the freedoms afforded them, in conjunction with the clearly
defined boundaries and the just-in-time
interventions, were encouraging and contributed to
a sense of self-determination
and initiative. Five students wrote that more consistent
reference by all area staff regarding the relevance, use and applicability of the ePortfolio
would have helped their sense of whole of program inclusion
All staff in 2014 will be inculcated to the use of the ePortfolio now that the proof-of-concept
has shown dividends. However, there is no expectation that all staff will engage deeply in
the backend and theoretical use of an ePortfolio, although all will be asked to include explicit
discussions and guidance as to what aspects of their coursework, goals or learning outcomes
may be important in their sub-disciplinary
The use of ePortfolios as assessment objects will be disseminated to other departments at
QCGU via a teacher who delivers core courses into other programs. This person will be
responsible for communicating (with assistance from music technology as appropriate). In
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 24
early years the selection process is seemingly quite simple for students. This is perceived to
be a consequence of students not having generated sizeable amounts of material yet, as
well as a by-product
students’ generalised tendency to focus on the few things
they feel they do best.
By the time students have reached third year, however, most have displayed and reported
difficulties in how they can define themselves, showing reticence in doing what they
perceive as pigeon-holing themselves. One student’s comment is indicative of many
conversations with final-year students: “I don’t know how to portray myself – I am more
things than I can put online, and what if I don’t choose the thing that this employer is
This fosters lengthy and mature discussions about representing focus, depth and ethics, but
at the same time foregrounding concepts around potential – both personal and professional.
One conversation often had with students is that creative artefacts do not in and of
themselves limit what a person is capable of achieving, and while they might be evidence of
specific skills, it is up to the student to present these artefacts as representative evidence of
aspects such as quality, attention to detail, nuanced understanding and sophisticated
application of broader, transferrable and adaptable knowledge and skill-sets
Students are more open to a wider array of possibilities by being better able to generalise
their skill sets and perceiving alternative opportunities that might be quite divergent from
the notion of their dream job/position/career. The perceived tensions between “artistic and
professional identities versus the ‘learner’ identity” are blurred or broken or many students
for some, quite significantly. The shift from thinking of themselves as students to thinking of
themselves as self-directional autonomous beings capable of competing in highly competitive
professional landscapes was reported. In this respect, we again see the
intersection of music and technology as quickly evolving, where jobs exist now that did not
exist five years ago, and jobs will exist in another five years’ time that do not exist now. There
is no single “music technology” profession – rather there are many diverse opportunities
where the potential for growth and maturation within a career are often almost impossible
to predetermine. There are often no clear pathways of progressing up a company structure,
rather bringing multiple skills and professional traits to bear to create a niche for oneself in
professional landscapes that are often sensitive to cultural, social, technological and broader
students appear to be more adept at realising how they can transfer
their understanding of self into new domains, and to extend these students’ event horizons
goals where understanding personal development and career trajectories
carries less fear. This appears to result from experiences associated with implementing and
assessing their learning in a consistently reflexive way as a result of their engagement with
longitudinal thinking associated with the pedagogical objective of the ePortfolio.
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 25
Chapter 4: Conclusions, outputs and outcomes
This project established ePortfolios for undergraduate music and performance studies
students in Australian universities by adapting their use at the Sydney Conservatorium of
Music (SCM), The University of Sydney, to students at University of Western Sydney, Curtin
University and Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University. Building on work previously
accomplished at SCM, we designed, implemented, and evaluated ePortfolios for professional
needs of music education to music composition, performance, musicology, music technology,
professional practice and sound recording technology students preparing for entry to
professional positions, grant/fellowship application, and/or graduate study. The programs
were based on student needs across the many types of music and creative and performing
arts discipline areas.
A critical hypothesis was that ePortfolios cannot be generic in these discipline areas. Despite
some basic commonalities of creative and performing arts, the project was based on the
distinctions between them, the training they require, teaching practices, learning styles,
expected outcomes, and potential professional directions. Therefore, a major part of our
investigation was to determine how ePortfolios might differ across this sector of tertiary
study, how students in different specific discipline areas need to tailor their ePortfolios to suit
a range of issues, how the use of ePortfolios can be optimised, and how students and staff
involved with ePortfolios can demonstrate differences in their uses of and opinions about
them. Alongside ways that students in these subject areas worked with and through
ePortfolios, we assessed staff participation and considered relationships between ePortfolio
use and institutional policies in relation to expectations of the ongoing updatingof IT-assisted
teaching, assessment practices, curriculum design and implementation, institutional decision-
in relation to the choice of ePortfolio platform, and integration into the work of
universities (Blom et al., 2013). An innovative aspect of the project was to enable us to
determine how forms of assessment and reporting should be adapted, how teaching and
learning is influenced, how the focus can most effectively be on individual students’ needs
and artistic strengths. In addition, we sought to determine how ePortfolios can provide
students with a capstone product – an electronic portfolio for employers in the arts sector –
and can bring about change in tertiary study through the creative application and
development of current (but ongoing developmental) technology.
In summary, the project demonstrated the viability of ePortfolios as a tool for students and
staff in the university teaching of music and other creative and performing arts. Numerous
areas were shown to benefit from the use of ePortfolios: they were a means of showing the
longitudinal nature of university study; they could act as a form of archiving of students’
work; they could foster self-reflection
by students; they could effectively draw attention to
and demonstrate the multi-identity nature of students in music and other creative and
performing arts, as creators, performers, critics, analysts, teachers, and learners; and they
required that students become adept users of digital technology, often leading to increases
in their levels of technological proficiency. The ePortfolio revealed a nexus between
students’ uses of social networking and its related technology and the presence of similar
digital technology in university learning situations, revealing ways in which students think
about their university lives in relation to their non-university ones through the lens of
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 26
technology. The ePortfolio can be a tool for the delivery of teaching; staff can use ePortfolios
to manage assessment tasks; and ePortfolios have a bearing on learning management
systems, administrative technology, and university policy decision-making
The focus of this project on music and other creative and performing art demonstrated that
ePortfolios in these discipline areas cannot be considered as a generic tool. Rather these
related discipline areas require different uses of and thinking about ePortfolios. As Rowley &
Bennett (2013) found, depending on the artistic direction from which a student comes, the
ePortfolio experience differs widely in terms of:
• the formats of contents;
• the weights given to component parts of ePortfolios;
• dissemination practices;
• intended audiences; and
• personal uses of ePortfolios.
A marked difference was observed in the thinking behind ePortfolio use in the performing
arts areas of this project and that in music technology. Due to the fact that students in music
technology began working on their ePortfolios with already established technological skills,
but students in other areas had to receive training to bring their levels of technological skill
up to an acceptable level, music technology students were able to move to higher cognitive
levels and debates about ePortfolios. This was strengthened by the fact that these students
were required to choose their own ePortfolio platforms from freely available software, and
thus had been required from their initial stages of the project to critique and select from
numerous ePortfolio platforms. Conversely, students in non-music technology programs were
required to use platforms provided by their institutions; decision-making (a skill that
ePortfolio work has been demonstrated to foster) was therefore initially in place for some
students, but not for others.
This is an important finding. It is linked to the general purchase by two out of the four of the
universities in this project had purchased access to commercially available ePortfolio
platforms and had mandated these for student use. Unfortunately, as student comments
repeatedly pointed out, this platform was not entirely successful for ePortfolios in music or
other creative and performing arts. The platform had been designed as a generic tertiary
studies tool without consideration of its potential uses in specific discipline areas.
Considering ePortfolios for music and other creative and performing arts, therefore, it is clear
that ePortfolios need to be designed, or at least selected, with reference to the requirements
of the discipline areas in which they will be used. Similarly, that universities would mandate a
commercial ePortfolio platform without seeking input from the staff or students who would
be required to use it became an emerging issue as the project proceeded.
The fact that this project involved four universities, each with its own way of teaching in the
music and other creative and performing arts disciplines, and that groups of students who
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 27
participated at each university also differed markedly, reinforced the view that the
participating students could demonstrate that their thinking about and uses of ePortfolios
were reflective of their specific areas of music and creative and performing arts studies. This
indicates that any future use of ePortfolios in these discipline areas needs to address issues
• how ePortfolios integrate into university teaching and learning in these discipline
• how suitable ePortfolio platforms can be identified
• potential uses and roles of ePortfolios for driving decisions about viability, and
• the specific attributes of studying music and other creative and performing arts in
relation to expectations of ePortfolio work.
These issues provide a clear direction for further work on ePortfolios, both in the discipline
areas of this project and in others.
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 28
List of outcomes and deliverables
To date there are three book chapters; four journal articles, five full papers in refereed
conference proceedings; seven international/national conference presentations:
Bennett, D., Rowley, J., Dunbar-Hall
P., Blom, D., & Hitchcock, M. (2014). Identity and the
learning process: ePortfolios and higher education Arts students. In Conference Proceedings:
International Society for Music Education, July, Porte Allegre, Brazil. July, 2014 (accepted
12 March 2014).
Blom, D., Rowley, J., Bennett, D., Hitchcock, M., & Dunbar-Hall
policy/ educator practices in creative arts through ePortfolio
creation.in M. Ciussi and M. Augier (eds.), Proceedings if the 12
European Conference on
ECEL, October 30-31
SKEMA Business School, Sophia Antipolis, France.
P., Rowley, J., Bennett, D., Blom, D., & Hitchcock, M. (2013). ePortfolios in music and
creative arts education: Innovating to inspire learning. In Redefining the musical landscape:
Inspired learning and innovation in music education---XIX National Conference Proceedings (pp.
82-87). Australian Society for Music Education.
Rowley, J., & Bennett, D (2013). Technology, identity and the creative artist. ASCILITE 2013
Conference (Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education), pp. 775–
Rowley, J., Dunbar-Hall
P., Blom, D., Bennett, D., & Hitchcock, M. (2014). ePortfolios in the
teaching of music and other creative and performing arts in four Australian universities. In
Conference Proceedings: International Society for Music Education, July, Porte Allegre, Brazil.
July, 2014 (accepted 12 March 2014).
Bennett, D., Rowley,J., Blom, D., Dunbar-Hall
P., Hitchcock, M., & Robertson R. (2014). “Who
am I and what evidence do I have?” ePortfolios in music and writing as a means to develop
Western Australia Teaching and Learning Forum (WA T&L Forum,
Curtin University). January 2014
Blom, D. & Hitchcock, M. (2013) ‘A role for the e-portfolio
in educating the professional
musician (not the music teacher)’, Symposium presentation at University of Cambridge,
Faculty of Education, 20 September.
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 29
Rowley, J., Bennett, D., Dunbar-Hall
P., & Blom, D. (2014). Exploring the pedagogy and
impact of technology on ePortfolio creation for Arts students in Australian tertiary
study. Special Edition: ePortfolios – UAE Journal of Educational Technology and
eLearning. Retrieved from http://ejournal.hct.ac.ae/special-edition-of-the-ejournal-
Bennett, D., Rowley, J., Dunbar-Hall
P., Hitchcock, M., & Blom, D. (2014). Electronic portfolios
and learner identity: an ePortfolio case study in music and writing. Journal of Further
and Higher Education, (ahead of print), pp. 1-18.
Blom, D., Rowley, J., Bennett, D., Hitchcock, M., & Dunbar-Hall
P. (2014). Knowledge sharing:
Exploring institutional policy and educator practice through ePortfolios in music and
writing. Electronic Journal of e-Learning
Hall, P., Rowley, J., Brooks, W., Cotton, H., & Lill, A. (2015). ePortfolios in music and
other performing arts education: History through a critique of literature. Journal of
Historical Research in Music Education, 36(2), 139-149.
Blom, D. (2013). Developing collaborative creativity in university music performance
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ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 34
Certification by Deputy Vice-Chancellor (or equivalent)
I certify that all parts of the final report for this OLT grant/fellowship (remove as appropriate)
provide an accurate representation of the implementation, impact and findings of the project, and
that the report is of publishable quality.
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 35
Appendix A: Tables and Figures
Table 1: Data collection items and chronology
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 36
Table 2: Literature reviews and annotated bibliography
An annotated bibliography and several literature reviews were compiled across
as part of the project.
ePortfolios: An Annotated Bibliography
ePortfolios in the Creative Arts
ePortfolios and Graduate Employability
ePortfolios and Music Learning
ePortfolios and Peer Assessment
Alternative and Various uses of ePortfolios
Institutional use and implementation of ePortfolios
ePortfolios and Identity Development
Barriers to Student Engagement with ePortfolios
A journal article was published result of the literature reviews conducted:
Hall, P., Rowley, J., Brooks, W., Cotton, H., & Lill, A. (2015). ePortfolios in
music and other performing arts education: History through a critique of literature.
Journal of Historical Research in Music Education, 36(2), 139
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 37
Figure 1: Data collected across 4 institutions
Data were collected across the four participating institutions using various collection tools
and recording formats.
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 38
Figures 2 & 3: Curtin University data collection
Data collected from writing students, CU (n=75)
eP sample pages
Life and career
Figure 4: Queensland Conservatorium of Music (Griffith University) data collection
Research team – Matt Hitchcock
Data collected from theatre students, CU (n=66)
(strengths and weaknesses)
(future work and life)
Data collected from music technology students,
Focus group interviews
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 39
Figures 5 & 6: Sydney Conservatorium of Music, The University of Sydney
Research Team: Researchers: Jennifer Rowley, Peter
Manager: Siobhain O’Leary
Research Assistants: Wendy Brooks, Hugh Cotton, Athena Lill, John Taylor
Student participants, SCM, (n=110)
Other (Performance, Music
Data collected from SCM students, (n=1113)
ePortfolio sample pages
Focus group interviews
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 40
Figure 7: University of Western Sydney data collection
Research Team: Diana Blom
Data collected from music students, UWS (n=70)
Music group performance students
practice capstone students
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 41
Appendix B: Survey questions
Survey of ePortfolio use at QCGU, November 2013
Year of study in 2013:
1. What words/roles do you usually use to describe yourself to others? (Include clarifying
statements as to when and how if this helps provide clarity to your response.)
2. Are there any words/roles you tend to avoid or shy away from and why?
3. What is your understanding of the purpose/s of an ePortfolio?
4. Do you think an ePortfolio has any use for you
[a] as a student (yes/no and also please state why)
[b] as a professional (yes/no and also please state why)
5. Have you used an ePortfolio for anything other than an assessment item? If so, how and
to what result?
6. Do you think you would use an ePortfolio for anything other than an assessment item?
(explain your answer).
7. Do you think you will continue to maintain your ePortfolio after graduation?
8. What do you think an ePortfolio should contain, and why?
9. Do you perceive any difference between your
portfolios and your ePortfolio,
and if so, what are they?
Achievements and learning outcomes.
10. Did you experience any challenges in the development of your ePortfolio. If so, what
were they, do you think you overcame them, and how so?
11. Did you experience any realisations as a
of engaging in the development of
12. Reflect back to your thoughts as you were developing your ePortfolios. Did you
experience any concerns during the development of your ePortfolio? If so, what?
13. Reflect back to your thoughts as you were developing your ePortfolios. Did you
experience any positive outcomes during the development of your ePortfolio? If so, what?
14. Generally, has developing an ePortfolio had any impact on you, and if so, how so?
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 42
Appendix C: Independent evaluation report
ID11-2041: ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students in Australian universities
Submitted by Lynn McAllister – Senior Support Officer – eLearning Services Queensland
University of Technology
Evaluation brief and process
The Creative and performing arts ePortfolio (CAPA) project ran from November 2011 to April
2014. The Interim external evaluator’s report was delivered on October 30 2012. The Final report
was delivered on March 31 2014.
This independent evaluation report provides summative evaluation of the project and project
processes following handover from the Interim evaluator during the later phase of the project.
I accepted the role of external evaluator in October 2013, during phase three of the project, to
undertake final evaluation and develop the summative independent evaluation report. The
primary external evaluator had delivered the Interim report in October 2012 and was due for
extended leave in 2014. I met with the project leader, Jennifer Rowley, at the ePortfolios
Australia Forum in October 2013 to discuss the evaluator role and requirements. I have
continued the approach initiated by the primary external evaluator.
In keeping with the Interim external evaluator report, the final summative report is based on the
D-Cubed Framework (Hinton & Gannaway, 2011). The framework identifies three crucial aspects
which influence the success of a project. This provides a triple focus ‘lens’ through which to view
• assessment of readiness for change
• stakeholder engagement throughout the project
• capacity of the project to transfer outcomes broadly.
This report presents evidence of the successful delivery of project outcomes, and the
contribution the project has made to the ‘ePortfolios for learning’ body of evidence. Project
processes as well as the meeting of challenges and unexpected issues are briefly illustrated as
they may inform the broader project environment for future project teams.
The final evaluation report seeks to elucidate how the project has met the stated project
1. extent to which the project has achieved its intended outcomes through the development of
capacity amongst staff from different Music, Creative/Performance and Arts disciplines to
work with ePortfolios
2. extent to which ePortfolio pedagogies are evident in curricula at all institutions
3. range and scope of ePortfolio items included by students
4. the effectiveness of dissemination processes
5. learning outcomes of the Student Encounter Day
6. scope for use of the ePortfolio process beyond the length of the project funding
7. effectiveness of the strategies used to embed ePortfolios in the Music, Creative/Performance
and Arts curriculum
8. the interest in ePortfolios by other Music, Creative/Performance and Arts disciplines
9. the applicability to industry and the usefulness/effectiveness/relevance of the resulting
ePortfolios to the employment sector
The evaluation questions are included as Attachment 1.
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 43
I first met the Project Leader, Jennifer Rowley at the ePortfolio Australia Conference in Perth in
2010. I have spoken with her at subsequent ePortfolio events and was aware of this project
initiation. I attended the project Student Encounter Day September 27 2012, which was held in
conjunction with the ePortfolios Australia Forum. In December 2013, I met with the project team
members during a professional writing retreat and was able to gather feedback relating to the
evaluation criteria. I found attendance at the STePS student showcase and Professional
Learning event at the Sydney Conservatorium March 22nd 2014 a very valuable opportunity to
gather direct evidence of the impact of the project on project members, students and colleagues.
During the project I have been able to Skype with the project leader, have accessed all project
documentation from the core repository and the project Ning community site ePortfolios for arts
students, to inform this summative evaluation.
Viewed through the triple focus lens, this project has clearly established the “readiness for
change”. It builds on work undertaken earlier, by two project members at the lead institution, and
on project outcomes from previous ALTC/OLT -funded projects. The project leader has regularly
engaged with ePortfolio stakeholders at conferences and symposia. Project team members have
been actively engaging with stakeholders and potential stakeholders at their institutions and at
professional events over the duration of the project. The development of dissemination strategies
and resources has been done to maximise the transfer of project outcomes as broadly as
possible across discipline areas, educations sectors and internationally. The evidence presented
in the report can be read in terms of this triple lens focus.
Key features of this project have been the enthusiasm and dedication of team members and the
strong leadership provided by the project leader. The project members valued greatly the
dedication of the project leader who effectively guided the team to the project’s successful
conclusion. From the outset, project activities have been designed to most effectively support
collaboration between project members. The project communication strategy has been highly
effective in providing team members with timely ongoing access to all project information. The
core resource is the project repository which aggregates all team planning documents, including
ethics clearance, publication drafts, meeting minutes and other project documents. Project
members were able to share documents easily and effectively through this space.
Broad stakeholder engagement was facilitated through the Ning community site – ePortfolios for
arts students. Visitors to the site can access a number of general ePortfolio articles and video
clips and project resources. Interested stakeholders can join the Ning community and contribute
to the discussion group and post comments to the community. The site was promoted at
conferences and other events and through e-lists and newsletters. The Ning community site will
be maintained for 12 months beyond the project end to facilitate continued discussion and
sharing of ePortfolio practice.
In July 2013, the project team requested an extension to the project to May 2014, to allow data
collection at two partner institutions and thus deliver a more complete and therefore more
valuable result. An extension to end March 2014 was granted with recommendations to limit
further resource development and more effectively bring the project to a close. All extension
recommendations were implemented and project plans updated. The primary external evaluator
reviewed the recommendations and then stepped aside from the role with a very positive outlook
for the final phase of the project.
The Interim external evaluation report was delivered in October 2012 and noted the enthusiasm
of the project members and successful progress being made at this point. The Interim evaluation
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 44
recommended several adjustments to help ensure continued smooth and positive progress.
Addressing recommendations from the Interim evaluation
The Interim external evaluation recommended the following steps to ensure continued positive
progress of the project. Evidence suggests the project team very successfully addressed the
recommendations and this has ensured maximum value of the project in informing practice.
1. Quarterly virtual meetings of the Steering Committee in which a formal agenda is followed and
the Project reports on progress and requests activity endorsement from the Steering Committee.
The Interim evaluation recommended stronger engagement with the Steering Committee (SC) to
better utilise expertise, engender discussion and undertake any required project problem solving.
Formative feedback suggested that “they could have made better use of the SC in the
establishment phase.” The project team responded, scheduling additional meetings to engage
with the SC virtually and face to face. Project members updated the SC on activities at their
different institutions and were able to clarify particular queries from the SC members. The
challenge of engaging the geographically diverse group remained throughout the later stages of
the project. At the close of the project the steering committee indicated that “The use of the
steering committee has definitely improved but could still be strengthened”. The project team
members were extremely appreciative of all discussion engendered within and guidance
received from the SC members. They felt that more-useful support could have been offered by
the OLT to advise project teams on the role of Steering Committees in advising on project
activities or direction. It is evident from SC feedback that strong relationships have been built
with members as a result of the project engagement.
2. Continue to focus on the modular nature of the Project approach such that the ‘templates’ are
de-coupled from technology and can be applicable across contexts and disciplines.
Continued project activities in 2013 clearly indicate the ongoing focus on technology-
independent ‘templates’ in facilitating ePortfolio application. At one member institution, the
ePortfolio activity, in a third year capstone unit was successfully completed because it could be
carried out independently of technology. The ‘template’ focus was utilised within two different
commercial platforms and the institutional Learning Management System, at different times, to
facilitate different purposes and activities. This project member indicated the de-coupled
‘template’ focus had been crucial to continued successful engagement with the ePortfolio
approach in this unit. This project activity represents a mature approach to ePortfolio, where
technology-independence suggests sustainability of the approach. This is a particularly strong
indicator of the significance and success of this project in informing the ePortfolio community.
3. Consider carrying out high level stakeholder analysis to inform the dissemination plan.
High-level stakeholder analysis was evident in the regular review and updating of the
Dissemination Plan, which is a very detailed and comprehensive guide to dissemination
avenues. Dissemination opportunities were being identified in the closing phase of the project to
accommodate additional resources and to make resources widely available to all stakeholder
groups. Team members had sourced relevant Journals and were planning an edited book which
would include a chapter on the ePortfolio activities from the project. They have planned to
present internationally in 2014.The ePortfolioAssist website offers a broad range of resource
types to accommodate the wide range of interested stakeholders.
4. The external evaluator and the Project Manager review the project plan for year 2 and agree
the evaluation activities for 2013. (There were several suggested changes to the evaluation
The external evaluator and the project leader undertook project review and the evaluation criteria
for 2013 were amended as agreed by all members. The amended evaluation criteria are those
ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students – CAPA eP 45
included in this report. These criteria continued to inform activity during the extension period.
Fulfilment of project purposes
The following section draws upon project documentation and discussion with project partners to
briefly illustrate the valuable contribution this project has made to ePortfolio engagement both in
Australian higher education and across the international ePortfolio environment.
• To inform development of capacity amongst staff from different Music, Creative/Performance
and Arts disciplines to work with ePortfolios
o The outcomes achieved across this project clearly illustrate the growing capacity within
the project members as they engage with ePortfolios across the two years of the
project. I believe the project findings through the various dissemination resources will
inform uptake and embedding of ePortfolios in different music and performance areas
as well as providing motivation and support for those already working with ePortfolios.
The ePortfolioAssist website provides wide access to the project outcomes and should
prove a very significant project output. The Ning community site has the capacity to
support music and creative arts practitioners online.
o The insights shared by project members and colleagues at the Professional Learning
day in March 2014 and on the DVD ePortfolios in Australian universities: For creative
and performing arts provide advice and guidance for those seeking to build capacity to
engage or continue with ePortfolios for learning and teaching. Excerpts from the DVD
and the panel discussions will be available on the ePortfolioAssist website.
• To identify the range and scope of ePortfolio items included by students
o The project has been highly successful in its contribution to the notion of ePortfolio as
collections of evidence. Through the student ePortfolios which have been shared across
project partners and at the two STePS Student Showcase events, students have been
able to show and talk about the types of items they choose to include and why. The
student voice in ePortfolio learning is sought after particularly by those planning to take
up ePortfolios. Gaining insight into the processes and choices in building an ePortfolio is
very valuable for informing practitioners in the embedding and application of ePortfolios
for learning and teaching.
o The example ePortfolios shared by students during the project have included:
- cover letters and CVs
- reports on projects undertaken as formal study
- images, sound files and footage of personal performances
- photos and footage of performance attendance (for learning or personal enjoyment)
- images and stories about wider life experiences (outside formal education)
- reflections on musical arrangement activities and outcomes
- personal philosophies
- music tutoring logs
- original compositions