NEU CPS Masters Portfolio – History Mission Design

See Also the Master of Education ePortfolio Resource Site:

Northeastern University is a private research university located in Boston, Massachusetts. The school is best known for its undergraduate co-op program which integrates academic study with workplace-based experiential learning.  It is also home to the College of Professional Study (CPS), in which the Graduate School of Education is located, whose primary focus is adult learners who are already in the workplace.  In addition, many of the CPS programs are fully online, including the Masters in Education program.  CPS has a commitment to offering its virtual graduate students the same quality of workplace-based experiential learning that is enjoyed by undergraduates.

ePortfolios are a key strategy for attaining this goal within the College because they provide an online learning space that spans courses, can include authentic evidence of learning in a range of formats, and provide opportunities for perceiving macro-level connections between students’ academic and professional experience.  They allow students, metaphorically speaking, to “zoom in” and “zoom out” on their learning experience, placing the specifics of one course within a space that has the capacity to encompass all endeavors within in their program and profession.

As a microcosm of the College, the Graduate School of Education also has a commitment to engage its students in a theory-with-practice experience that prepares them to help shape the future of learning within the field of education.  ePortfolios offer a place in which students can articulate their aspirations and plans for action.

The Graduate School of Education began its work with ePortfolios in 2010, focusing first on its masters-level programs.  These programs include a Master of Teaching (MAT) for pre-service licensure in K12 teaching and a Master of Education program that includes four concentrations: Learning and Instruction (focus on K12 learning), Higher Education Administration, Special Education, and as of fall 2013 a new concentration in eLearning and Instructional Design (focus on adult e-learning).

The Master of Teaching program was the first to become involved with ePortfolios, requiring its students to create ePortfolios with a template structured according to licensing standards, with the goal of making it easy for evaluators to assess student competencies. The MAT students have a common focus and a defined need, and therefore a directed portfolio is most appropriate for the task.  Even though this initiative has been logistically successful, faculty members observe that students are not going beyond the basic requirements in their ePortfolio use, indicating limited engagement.

In January 2011 the Master’s program instituted an ePortfolio requirement for all Master of Education students.

Unlike MAT students, Master of Education Program students work within many sectors: eLearning, higher education administration, educational non-profits, and organizational learning, and K12.  The M.Ed. ePortfolio initiative needed to be flexible enough to serve the needs of this more heterogeneous group.  In addition, some faculty expressed a desire for ePortfolios to help students position their program-based learning within the larger context of their developing professional identities, offering a narrative of growth.  It was decided that students would create one ePortfolio and use it throughout the program, and faculty co-autored the following mission statement to articulate the purpose of ePortfolios in the program:

By pursuing a Master’s degree, you are in a process of – metaphorically speaking – writing the next chapter in the story of your life. Your courses are one part of that process. You construct meaning on your journey, considering how your program informs and shapes personal and professional goals.

Your ePortfolio is designed to help you document this narrative of growth to see how parts relate to the whole. We believe it will help you improve the quality of your learning experience, both during and after your time in the program.

In summer 2012 the Masters faculty held an all-day planning retreat, starting the retreat off with a review and discussion of student ePortfolios. The Masters program ePortfolio requirement had been in effect for about eight months prior to the retreat and had yielded approximately 150 ePortfolios that could be examined. As expected, most ePortfolios depicted people who were employed.  But they often weren’t employed in educational capacities – many were preparing for a transition into education from another profession. During the retreat the faculty identified other student needs, including:

  • better orientation to education as a field of study;
  • capacity to examine their motivations and interests in relationship to current research and controversies in the field;
  • preparation to represent themselves as professionals, speaking to their strengths and aspirations for the future; and
  • the ability to perceive and articulate connections within courses, the program, and their professional lives.

Following the retreat, the Masters Program embarked upon a complete redesign of the curriculum, including the articulation of the program’s mission, distinctiveness, and vision for student competencies and learning outcomes (see below). The revised curriculum, which went into effect fall 2013, includes tighter portfolio integration within the coursework, new core courses designed to directly address the needs identified above, and greater scaffolding in course sequence.


The Master of Education program at Northeastern University develops educators with the skills and intellectual acumen to be effective, to question systemic norms, and to anticipate and shape a more equitable, globally connected society.


The Master of Education Program

  • Effectively melds applied professional practice and scholarship;
  • Examines the societal impact of technology upon education worldwide;
  • Explores the learner in context throughout the lifespan;
  • Instills an understanding of education from a worldwide perspective; and
  • Guides the development of a degree-wide integrative ePortfolio that is retained by the graduate for continuing professional advancement.


A graduate of the Masters Program is a

Systems Thinker

  • Perceives self as an educator participating within a larger system of education
  • Demonstrates strategic awareness
  • Looks for patterns and makes connections
  • Sees how parts relate to the whole, including the implications of systems and organizational change


  • Proficient as a writer and as a presenter
  • Capacity to work within groups to listen well, speak well, and co-author
  • Able to collaborate and communicate in a range of modalities (face-to-face and online)
  • Facile with technology, keeps current with emerging technologies and social media

Creative Problem Solver

  • Situational awareness and leadership in identifying and defining challenges
  • Thinks creatively to generate ideas and be open to alternatives
  • Develops and implements plans for addressing problems and effecting change
  • Is resilient in less-than-optimal circumstances

Culturally Responsive

  • Perceives the professional self as functioning within a global context of education
  • Aware of the dynamics of race, class, gender, and the other cultural factors within community dynamics and intercultural communication
  • Interest in, and capacity to perceive, multiple perspectives
  • Self-aware of cultural perspective and privilege
  • Capacity to serve as an agent for social justice


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