What are reflective ePortfolios?

ePortfolios are electronic collections of artifacts that are typically used to showcase the interests, goals, and achievements of individuals and/or groups. As a digital medium, ePortfolios open up opportunities for sharing evidence of work in fresh and dynamic ways. ePortfolios were added to the American Association of Colleges and Universities’ (AAC&U) list of High Impact Practices (HIP) in 2016 as research confirmed that creating ePortfolios over time by curating collections of artifacts and reflecting on personal and academic growth increases retention, completion, and satisfaction rates. Two key elements of implementing ePortfolios as a HIP are the integrative nature of their use throughout the educational experience, and intentional inclusion of expectations for deep reflection allowing participants to form meaningful connections between their various experiences. Simply using an ePortfolio as a method for sharing work is also associated with positive gains, but not nearly as many as when they are paired with reflective work. Check out this article from AAC&U for more information about the learning theories behind ePortfolios as a HIP – “Reflective e-Portfolios: One HIP to Rule Them All?

Why Use ePortfolios?

Evidence suggests that the creation of an ePortfolio facilitates meaningful reflection in the learning process, while increasing success in reaching personal learning goals.

Benefits of using ePortfolios in the classroom:

  • Increases grade point averages, graduation rates, and term-to-term persistence rates
  • Provides authentic assessment of student learning
  • Creates opportunities to connect experiences with learning outcomes over time
  • Promotes deep learning
  • Allows for metacognition through periodic reflections
  • Facilitates integrated learning across academic contexts and experiences
  • Promotes the development of robust personal and academic identities
  • Encourages discovery of new skills and abilities
  • Increases grade point averages
  • Increases 4-year graduation rates by 10%
  • Makes experiences visible to a variety of audiences
  • Allows for creative expression of a wide range of work

Sources: ePortfolios, the 11th High Impact Practice and The Benefits of E-portfolios for Students and Faculty in Their Own Words

Helpful Links & Resources

The ePortfolio Faculty Learning Community (eFLC): 
The ePortfolio Faculty Learning Community was formed as a way for faculty and educators at DU to stay connected and informed about ePortflios and High-Impact Practices, and to have a place to learn more about ways to effectively integrate them into classrooms and across campus. Visit the eFLC website, or contact Kara Taczak at Kara.Taczak@DU.edu or Heather Tobin at Heather.Tobin@DU.edu to learn more.
The ePortfolio Student Ambassador Program:

The ePortfolio Ambassador Program offers a series of three workshops to support writers creating ePortfolios for their classes or programs. Students can connect with the ePortfolio Student Ambassador Program to set up a consultation and/or attend an open lab or workshop, or by contacting Megan Kelly at Megan.J.Kelly@DU.edu.

The following workshops are intended for faculty interested in using reflective ePortfolios in their teaching practice. Please contact otl@du.edu to request a one-on-one consultation about the use of ePortfolios in academic contexts, workshops for a different audience (i.e. staff, pilot groups, etc.), or for specific support using the DU Portfolio application.

Faculty Orientation to Reflective ePortfolios (typically offered during week 2 of the academic term)

An introductory session highlighting the benefits of, and initial steps for, incorporating reflective ePortfolios as a High Impact Practice in the classroom. Participants will also be provided with an overview of possible ePortfolio applications, and a specific a demonstration of how the dedicated DU Portfolio application works, and guided through the initial steps for creating DU Portfolio sites.

View the OTL Events Calendar for specific dates and registration information.

Using ePortfolios in the Classroom (typically offered during week 4 of the academic term)

A workshop that takes a deeper dive into the research linking reflective ePortfolios to increased student retention, completion, and satisfaction rates, when done well (and what “doing it well” means!). Participants will also be encouraged to identify appropriate resources available to them, and begin developing strategies and processes that taylor the use of an ePortfolio assignment to the objectives of a specific course or program.

View the OTL Events Calendar for specific dates and registration information.

ePortfolio Advanced Practice Lab (typically offered during week 6 of the academic term)

An informal open lab where ePortfolio adopters will be provided with tutorials for leveraging tools within the DU Portfolio application to enhance reflective practices, and an opportunity to work through implementation and design challenges (when using any ePortfolio application) with colleagues, peers, and experts.

View the OTL Events Calendar for specific dates and registration information.

The resources listed below are intended for faculty/educators interested in using reflective ePortfolios in their teaching practice.

ePortfolios for Reflection: 7 Best Practices – a curated list of best practices (informed by field literature) for reflective ePortfolios.

Using DU Portfolio for Reflective ePortfolio Practices – our recent blog post summarizing the traits and benefits of ePortfolios as a High Impact Practice.

Five Ways to use ePortfolios for Reflection – a Teaching Professor article outlining strategies for implementing reflective ePortfolios in academic contexts. This article is written by Heather Tobin (faculty developer and adjunct instructor at DU), and is based on projects that DU faculty and staff collaborated on during the 2018-19 academic year.

Field Guide to Eportfolios – a collection of peer-reviewed articles curated by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) that strives to define the use of reflective ePortfolios as a field of professional practice. The guide is updated periodically.

Integrative and Applied Learning VALUE Rubric – a rubric developed by the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) that is intended for institutional-level discussion and evaluation of student learning.

IUPUI ePortfolio Taxonomy – a taxonomy developed by applying the VALUE Rubric to the specific practice of using ePortfolios as a High Impact Practice.

OTL ePortfolio Project site – a supplemental site housed in the DU Portfolio system, providing support for anyone using ePortfolios to enhance learning at the University of Denver.

There are various platforms and tools that can be used to create a dynamic ePortfolio. DU Portfolio is web-based application that provides electronic portfolios for all active DU students, faculty, staff, and alumni. If you plan on using DU Portfolio for ePortfolio assignments, please be sure to check out the resources provided below:

  • Watch the 15 minute Video Tutorial
  • View the 7-Step Online Guide
  • Get advanced instructions for using DU Portfolio from the OTL Knowledge Base
  • Contact the IT Help Desk for technical support at 303-871-4700
  • Visit the “About” section of the DU Portfolio website for additional information
  • Access resources supporting the use of ePortfolios in academic contexts by reaching out to the Office of Teaching and Learning at otl@du.edu.