In order to finish the portfolios, students had to spend a considerable amount of time outside of the classroom and at computer workstations. Thus, there was a large amount of time spent working on the project without instructor supervision. The students later commented upon this: On an end-of-term questionnaire, the most frequently mentioned way to improve the course was to make the laboratory time outside of class "official," perhaps by adding laboratory units to the course. The authors would suggest instead that more time be spent in class on the e-portfolio project (as well as in the computer laboratory) and less time on the content portion of the course (without sacrificing the quality of instruction, of course!). Relying heavily on the general-purpose computer laboratories caused another problem at the end of the semester. The students often had to wait in line (for up to an hour!) to gain access to workstations as crowds of students from around campus were finishing various final projects for their courses. The authors therefore recommend having as many computers as possible dedicated solely to the e-portfolio project in a local (department-level) computer laboratory.
The process of e-portfolio creation can reap valuable rewards for students (Wiedmer, 1998). In our case, for example, some of the students had not fully thought out their career or academic plans, but the personal statements and narratives in the portfolios required students to formulate both short- and long-term career and academic goals. In addition, at the beginning of the semester, a fair number of the students were concerned that they had no skills or knowledge relevant to their chosen goals. However, after detailed in-class discussion, one-on-one consultation, and some soul-searching, most of these students realized that they were more prepared than they had originally thought. With regard to their coursework, they learned that in many of their courses in psychology they had gained experience relevant to their goals. For example, the knowledge gained from the Introduction to Cognitive Psychology and the Real-World Memory portions of the course was shown to be relevant to students interested in teaching careers.
The semester ended with a showcase of student-created e-portfolios. All members of the campus community were invited to attend, and food and drinks were served. The showcase highlighted the five e-portfolios judged to best represent the spirit and purpose of the e-portfolio component of the course
2, and 3)
Interestingly, the selected e-portfolios did not necessarily come from students with the highest GPAs, but rather from students who put the most effort into the project. In addition, all students who completed e-portfolios (all but two students in the course)
were presented with certificates noting their accomplishments. Colleagues from the Department of Psychology and from other campus departments, administrators, staff, and students were invited to surf the showcased web sites on computers positioned around the meeting room. Color printouts of the other e-portfolios were displayed on the walls of the room for the guests to peruse.