Category Archives: Resources

Reflection and Learning Portfolios: What, So What, Now What

Reflection is a key area of learning portfolios, yet it is a concept that is not always explored sufficiently when developing learning portfolio projects. The following handout developed by Kyle Nelson provides an introduction to critical reflection. Please take a few moments to go through it before the workshop. Reflection Session Handout CoP 2014 September

What: What is reflection

‘active, persistent, and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it and the further conclusions to which it tends’ (Dewey 1933: 118)

So What: Why does reflection matter?

In the context of Portfolios reflection can serve to help students consolidate their knowledge, provide ‘glue’ to ePortfolio artifacts and help create a story of knowing (context for them). It also can deepen and broaden learning, facilitating learners analyzing, integrating and synthesizing information

Reflective pedagogy transforms ePortfolio from a push-button technology into an engaging process of connection, linking students’ academic learning and life experience to the most profound processes of personal growth.

Now What:  Resources

Catalyst for Learning ePortfolio Resources and Research

Connect to Learning (C2L)  is a network in the United States that brings together national ePortfolio practitioners to share resources, and research related to ePortfolios. As part of this initiative they have developed a rich ePortfolio resource, Catalyst for Learning. The website includes a  framework for ePortfolio design, Inquiry, Reflection and Integration and resources focused on assessment, design and professional development.

Tools to Support the Process, Resources and Links

We had the opportunity on January 23rd, 2014 to discuss different tools that can support portfolio assessment in teaching and learning. It was a chance to hear about recent changes in ePortfolio software and to connect with members of the UBC Portfolio Community of Practice and hear about the online tools that they are using to support portfolio learning and assessment in their context.

 Presentation Slides

Portfolio Tools at UBC at a Glance
Download Portfolio Tools at a Glance

Continue reading Tools to Support the Process, Resources and Links

ePortfolios Rising

Stephen Downes recently wrote an article in the Europortfolio newsletter contextualizing ePortfolios today. I was taken by the quote below because it locates ePortfolios in a discourse of late dominated by MOOCs and the flipped classroom.

“In recent years discussion of ePortfolios has been eclipsed by the excitement around
massive open online courses (MOOCs). I think this is a mistake. It is important to
encourage students to create and share their own work. That said, the focus on
taking many courses from multiple providers makes it difficult to reply on a single
provider’s ePortfolio service. Increasingly, students will have to manage the hosting

of their online portfolios on their own.” Europortfolio Portfolio Newsletter

In my role as an educational developer at UBC, I have witnessed the meteoric rise of MOOCs, Flexible Learning and the flipped classrooms and as interest builds in these areas, I see the continued value of ePortfolios in learning, and assessment. With the increasing distribution of learning we need approaches to enable us to see students as whole learners and share/celebrate the creative products that they develop.

I agree with Downes when he notes that it becomes difficult to rely on a single service provider to support the diverse ePortfolio needs in an institution. I am excited by the focus by some institutions such as UBC on a  diverse and distributed support model for different ePortfolios tools and initiatives such as University of Mary Washington “A Domain of One’s Own”  provides a model that moves us towards more learner-centred and holistic ePortfolios.

Portfolio Community of Practice: Assessing ePortfolios.

This brief about ePortfolio assessment was developed to support and provide direction for the Portfolio CoP meeting held on November 7th, focussing on assessing ePortfolios.

PDF Version: Assessing ePortfolios

What is an ePortfolio?

An e-portfolio is a purposeful aggregation of digital items – ideas, evidence, reflections, feedback etc, which ‘presents’ a selected audience with evidence of a person’s learning and/or ability.

Sutherland and Powell (2007) JISC Effective Practice with ePortfolios

Portfolio Assessment

The portfolio provides a critical opportunity for purposeful, mentored reflections and analysis of evidence for both improvement and assessment of students’ learning. Such a process is a rich, convincing, and adaptable method of recording intellectual growth and involving students in a critically reflective, collaborative process that augments learning as a community endeavor.

Zubizarreta (2010)

Portfolios dictate a different approach to evaluation: accumulation of work evidence and reflection on that work. Using reflection as the most basic way that we academics evaluate students is far more appropriate to the way we work in this century than the testing methods of last century. We no longer need to test as we did, but we do need to evaluate using portfolios.

Trent Baston (2010) The Testing Straightjacket

If universities are moving further towards an emphasis on ‘assessment for learning’ and formative learning then various approaches to paper-based portfolios and ePortfolios should naturally emerge across discipline areas.

Pelliccione and Dixon (2010)
Beyond assessment to empowerment in the learning landscape

  A Process for Assessing Portfolios


Baston, Trent (2013) The Testing Straightjacket, Campus Technology. Retrieved from:

JISC (2007) Effective Practice with ePortfolios, Retrieved from

Miller, A. (2011). E-portfolios and E-assessment—discussions.

Pelliccione ,Lina and Dixon, Kathryn (2008) ePortfolios: Beyond assessment to empowerment in the learning landscape, Ascilate Conference. Retrieved from

Tillema (2001) Portfolios as developmental assessment tools
Retrived from:

Assessing ePortfolios: Portfolio CoP, November 7th

Meeting Summary

During the Portfolio CoP meeting held on November 7, we explored approaches to assessing ePortfolios. As part of this discussion and sharing session Bernie Garret Associate Professor in the School of Nursing and Andrea Webb instructor in the Faculty Certificate Program discussed approaches that they have taken to assess portfolios and ePortfolios.

Andrea Webb discussed how ePorfolios are assessed in the Faculty Certificate Program (FCP). The faculty certificate program is a one-year program focused offered for faculty leaders at the University of British Columbia. As part of this program participants develop a learning portfolio using the Connect Wiki tool, which is used to showcase and assess their learning. The program has adopted moved the learning portfolio online recently and Andrea discussed some of the assessment strategies used in the program.

  • Various formative and summative check-in that provide participant feedback on their portfolios
  • Peer review: Each participant has their ePortfolio assessed by a peer early in the program schedule. This peer review provides the participants with a low-stake opportunity to receive feedback and make changes to their ePortfolio
  • Formative check-in: A formative check in with course instructors.
  • Summative check-in: For the final summative check in faculty ePortfolios are evaluated external reviewers (Past program participants)

Bernie Garrett, discussed different ways that ePortfolios are used in the school of nursing and the different approaches and strategies used to assess them. The PEP Portfolio was developed to assess the clinical skills of undergraduate nursing students. The PEP includes functionality to allow clinical supervisors to assess clinical skills through observation. It also allows students to create learning plans, and reflect using learning journals.

Bernie Garrett also discussed graduate nursing ePortfolios that are developed using the Blackboard Learning management system using the built in blog tools. He noted that with these ePortfolios he used formative and summative check ins.

This lead to further discussion around approaches and strategies for assessing ePortfolios with a number of suggestions made by the group including:

  • Considerations in determining the extent that ePortfolio artifacts are selected by students or our mandated by the institution or program.
  • It was noted that that highly structured ePortfolios are effective at providing valid assessment and for gathering data about student learning, however they tend to take away from the ownership and creative ways that students can create artifacts and develop their ePortfolios.
  • ePortfolios projects that allow students more ownership and flexibility in developing their ePortfolios has limitations for valid assessment in some context, but provides students more opportunities for creativity etc
  • The lack of clarity around ePortfolio definitions makes it challenging to implement ePortfolio projects and that part of the work in implementing ePortfolios needs to clarify the purpose of creating an ePortfolio
  • Faculty and student buy-in is a key component of successful ePortfolio implementation. We discussed different approaches to getting this buy-in, including explicitly discussing the learning gains for students in developing an ePortfolio



Practice Portfolio Demonstration Site
Login and try out the PEP

Dekker, H., Driessen E.W., Braak, E.W. ter, Scheele, F., Slaets, J.P., Molen, T. van der & Cohen-Schotanus, J. (2009) Mentoring portfolio use in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education. Medical Teacher. 31:903-909

Garrett, B. M., & Jackson, C. (2006). A mobile clinical e-portfolio for nursing and medical students, Nurse Education in Practice, 6, 339–346. Retrieved from

Garrett, B., MacPhee, M., Jackson, C. (2012) Evaluation of an ePortfolio for the assessment of clinical competence in a baccalaureate nursing program, Nursing Education Today. Vol 33, Issue 10. Retrieved from

Tartwijk, J. van & Driessen, E. W. (2009) Portfolios for assessment and learning:  AMEE guide no. 45 Medical Teacher. 31: 790-801.

ePortfolio Effectiveness: A(n Ill-Fated) Search for Empirical Support

In ePortfolio Effectiveness: A(n Ill-Fated) Search for Empirical Support, the Bryan & Chittum (2013), the authors review the research on ePortfolios, in particular they seek to find empirical evidence of learning effectiveness. They conclude that although  ePortfolio research has been moving from descriptive articles about implementation towards more focus on learning effectiveness, the literature focuses on student and faculty perceptions of ePortfolios rather than providing evidence of impact on learning.

ePortfolio Effectiveness: A(n Ill-Fated) Search for Empirical Support

Key ePortfolio Implementation Resource

I was compiling some resources for a colleague and decided to share them on the blog. Here is a list of some of the key ePortfolio resources to guide and support you through ePortfolio implementation. Please add your own key resources to the post comments if you would like to share a resource that has assisted you.