Our Project

Northeastern’s involvement with ePortfolios spans both undergraduate and graduate programs.  On the undergraduate level, ePortfolios are a component of the Honors College curriculum and the Writing Program.  Laurie Poklop of the Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning Through Research is the liaison for that work, and it has been underway for a number of years.

The Graduate School of Education has been the primary partner in the Connect to Learning network.   Its ePortfolio initiative began in 2011.  Most of the contributions to the Catalyst for Learning website document GSE’s journey and the discoveries that we’ve made along the way.  Gail Matthews-DeNatale serves as faculty lead for ePortfolios in the GSE.

ePortfolios are part of a larger initiative to further the GSE’s vision and provide authentic opportunities for students to gain the capabilities that they will need to shape the future of next-generation learning.  ePortfolios help the school strike a balance between outcomes assessment and personalized, connected learning.  For more information, see the Master of Education ePortfolio Resource Site.

ePortfolios in the Graduate School of Education

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 using 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. MAT students only have twelve weeks to create their ePortfolios, simultaneous with student teaching.  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 2012 the Masters 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 August 2012 the Masters Program faculty held a retreat to kick-off an initiative to redesign the curriculum.  The retreat began with a review of ePortfolios that students had created in the previous eight months.  These sites provided a window into the interests, personalities, achievements, and challenges of students in the program.

Between September 2012 through August 2013, the Masters Program was completely redesigned.  The Program now has a clearly articulated mission, program- and concentration-level competencies, intentional sequence of courses, and signature assignments.  Portfolios are a key component of the new curriculum, as evidenced by the following statement authored by faculty to explain their rationale:

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.

Systematic review of 2012 student ePortfolios as a collection informed a 2012-13 program redesign that began implementation in fall 2013. The new curriculum includes the articulation of a program vision, program- and concentration-level outcomes, course map with signature assignments designed to evidence outcomes, ePortfolio curricular integration, and shared foundational courses across four concentrations.

The new program is intended to improve the integration of theory with professional practice; enhance the connection between academic and workplace-based learning; increase value for students in the portfolio development process; create greater outcomes transparency for faculty and students; and support ongoing improvement of the program.

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