Electronic portfolios are web sites, CD-ROMs, or multimedia tools that document a student's body of work and thoughts about courses, curricula, and experiences in the academic major or the university. E-portfolios support alternative student assessment approaches (Barrett, 1998), aid program assessment, and are portable and easily distributed (Aschermann, 1999; Lankes, 1995). E-portfolios are linked easily to databases. The cross-platform format of web sites and multimedia elements (e.g., JPG and GIF for images) is useful for employment and academic program applications (Barrett, 1998). E-portfolios foster active learning, motivate students, provide feedback, promote discussion about students, are accessible, can store multiple media, are easy to upgrade, and allow cross-referencing of student work (Lankes, 1995; University of Delaware Educational Technology Laboratory, 2001; Wiedmer, 1998).
In the Fall 2000 semester, a pilot project was undertaken in which graduating psychology majors at the California State University, Dominguez Hills created e-portfolios as part of a course requirement. The e-portfolio was intended to serve as (a) an assessment of the student's understanding of psychological material and concepts, (b) a vehicle for the student to highlight his or her success as a CSUDH psychology undergraduate, (c) a product that could serve as an electronic resume for future employment (Casson, 1999), and (d) a graduate school application adjunct. The course was Senior Seminar in Psychology, which ". . . integrate[s] previous work and experience by emphasizing the application of theoretical models and research designs and the relationship among theory, research, and the dissemination of research findings" (University Catalog, 2001, p. 340). The specific topic of the seminar varies by instructor and is usually associated with the instructor's areas of expertise. In this case, the co-instructors (the authors) selected Applied Cognitive Psychology as the content area for the course.
The curriculum of the course was divided into two components: the content portion and the e-portfolio portion (Table 1).
1 The course grade was evenly split between these two components. For the content component, students read primary sources related to three subtopics: Introduction to Cognitive Psychology, Real-World Memory, and Cognition & Cyberspace. The students' comprehension of the content area was assessed through in-class exams, homework assignments, and participation in in-class discussions and activities. The authors taught the e-portfolio component of the course using four portfolio instruction methods (Table 2). At the start of the e-portfolio component, basic computer skills were addressed. Deficits in basic skills--the ability to use the mouse, menus, word processing, e-mail, and Internet browsing--were rectified using on-line tutorials and assessed with on-line multiple-choice tests via web-based SmartForce software accessed from campus.
Posted August 27, 2002
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©2002 by L. Mark Carrier & Larry Rosen.