Collect and Reflect


During the fall semester all MCLA students began using e-portfolios as a tool to collect their academic and co-curricular work. In recognition of the College's efforts to implement this important educational tool, MCLA was recently awarded a three-year, $225,100 grant from the Davis Educational Foundation.

This funding will support the ongoing development and implementation of the College's e-portfolio assessment program.

"E-portfolios are an electronic resume students can carry with them through their MCLA experience and beyond, storing evidence of learning outcomes," explains Monica Joslin, dean of Academic Affairs. "We want students to document their learning from their years at MCLA. That includes an academic component, as well as an out-of-class component."

Students can use their e-portfolios to store their accomplishments - whether it's serving as president of a club, completing a service learning project, or doing independent study.

The e-portfolios are as easy to use as Facebook, says Mary Kavanaugh, acting director of Academic Technology.

"Students are digitizing their work to reflect on and assess at a departmental or program level," says Kavanaugh.

For example, students who graduate from the education program need proof that they've met all of the standards within the Department of Education to be eligible for a teaching license, she explains.

"It can be anything from a document to photos to movies to a voice recording. The faculty can either comment on that evidence or be part of that student's portfolio. Departments can then take pieces of evidence and score the individual pieces of learning and see whether or not they're meeting their goals within a major and how students from year one to year four have made progress," Kavanaugh says. "You can't change what you're doing unless you have data to look at. A good e-portfolio will allow you to get the data and get students interested in using it."

"Students can collect and reflect," says Joslin. "We want to construct a portfolio that is meaningful for them as they go on to the next step, whether it's the workforce or graduate school."

Last spring, MCLA conducted an e-portfolio pilot in two courses, as well as with a group of selected student leaders who used the e-portfolio both in and out of class.

"This pilot followed an intense study by a lead team consisting of faculty and staff. The work done to date shows us that student use of the e-portfolio supports the College's learning and assessment goals," Joslin explains. "We will also develop workshop content and plan a series of technical training sessions for students, faculty and staff. To support the next phase of the project, we will assemble an advisory group of faculty and staff to ensure that the MCLA e-portfolio is accessible to users and meets learning and assessment expectations."

The funding from the Davis Educational Foundation will partially fund the position of associate dean for Assessment and Planning and allow MCLA to develop a comprehensive assessment map.

"It will really help us change the culture of assessment and to provide support for faculty in all departments," says Joslin.