E-portfolios: Giving More Meaning to Students’ Experiences

College students often have trouble seeing more value in their schoolwork than a letter grade, which is unfortunate considering the national student loan debt now exceeds $1.2 trillion. In order for students to get what they need out of their education they must understand how to apply their schoolwork outside of a classroom context and understand why these experiences will be important after their graduation. Students dismiss work after completing it, because they don’t see meaning in it beyond the classroom. According to Muireann O’Keeffe and Roisin Donnelly, co-authors of “Exploration of ePortfolios for Adding Value and Deepening Student Learning in Contemporary Higher Education,” students act as “passive consumers of knowledge,” not truly understanding or engaging with the materials provided in their learning environments. Students are not as engaged as they could be, because they see learning as a chore and don’t have ownership over their education. When the time eventually comes for these students to find entry-level jobs they have trouble differentiating themselves and proving their worth to hiring companies. The trending use of e-portfolios, or electric portfolios, is changing the way students view their education and lets them demonstrate their skills in a whole new way.

E-portfolios allow students to give meaning to all of their work (e.g. research projects, papers, and presentations) after completing it. It is a physical representation of a student’s educational career and acts as a proof of achievement for the student. With e-portfolios students display their work in ways that they can reflect on what they’ve created throughout their education. This allows them to see where their needs lie, driving them to improve their future academic performance. E-portfolios are not limited to in classroom experience. Students prove the learning they’ve done outside of the classroom through recorded evidence, like videos, podcasts, or writing.

Not only do e-portfolios allow students to reflect and improve themselves, but they also let students showcase the skillsets their future schools or employers will want to see from them. Through these online portfolios students can share their projects with a broader audience, making the stakes are higher. Students hold themselves to a higher standard when they know their work can lead to opportunities like internships or full-time jobs.

With the amount students graduating from college with massive debt, they should be able to take ownership of all of the work they’ve done. E-portfolios allow students to do just that.

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