Are you interested in creating an ePortfolio assignment for students to use in your course? Curious about how you can design prompts that support student ownership of their work, metacognitive and critical thinking, and have a lasting, positive impact on your students?

Using Digication, prompts can be built into the template that you share with students, helping support a scaffolded and organized approach for students in crafting their ePortfolios, and for instructors in assessing student work. Click on the terms below to learn more about the areas to consider when designing prompts for ePortfolio assignments:


When crafting prompts for your ePortfolio assignments, keep clarity, engagement, choice, and reflection in mind:

  • A well-written prompt clearly communicates what is expected of students. It should include specific instructions to ensure that all students are on the same page and that their ePortfolios are aligned with the learning objectives of the course.
  • A good prompt is engaging and thought-provoking. It should challenge students to think critically about their learning and to develop their own unique perspectives. This can help to motivate students to put their best effort into their ePortfolios and to create an end product that is meaningful and insightful for both students and instructors.
  • A good prompt gives students some choice in how they complete the assignment. This allows students to tailor their ePortfolios to their own interests and skills. This flexible approach not only empowers students but also aligns with the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).
  • ePortfolios are a valuable tool for reflection. A good prompt should encourage students to reflect on their learning process, their growth as learners, and their future goals. This can help students to develop their critical thinking skills and to become more self-aware of their learning and growth and make connections across their educational experiences.

When using Digication, students can adjust their ePortfolio privacy settings to make their work private, public to the University of Denver, or public, meaning anyone with their URL can find them online. This opens up the potential for students to be writing for and engaging with a wide variety of audiences and is therefore an important consideration when developing prompts to help guide students as they compile their work into an ePortfolio. For instance, encouraging students to have a totally public ePortfolio might be useful for students who are collecting a portfolio of work to showcase for a potential professional opportunity, but it discourages certain types of sharing and reflections that might be more personal. So, before developing your prompts, consider the audience you want your students to be addressing: Who will see this ePortfolio? Who will engage with the artifacts and reflections that students are sharing? And how can your prompts make it clear to students who they are presenting their ePortfolios to?

To develop a supportive learning environment for students, scaffolding assignments plays an important role. Remember, not every student has experience working within Digication, so creating prompts that introduce students to different elements of the ePortfolio can help those who might be feeling overwhelmed by the new technology. Develop prompts to walk students through the different elements of an ePortfolio, help them gather artifacts over time, scaffold reflective prompts so students are continuing to revisit their work and experiences, and explain in each assignment how the work students complete within the ePortfolio connect to the overall course learning outcomes.

Here are some tips to help you create prompts that scaffold student learning within the ePortfolio:

  1. Assess and build upon students prior knowledge and abilities.
  2. Explain learning outcomes within your prompts and clearly connect them to the different assignments you create within Digication.
  3. Model assignments or ways of thinking. For instance, if you are asking students to complete an introductory write up for an artifact they are including, you might give examples of what this might look like in other student’s work or provide sentence starters to help them get going.
  4. When first introducing students to Digication, include step-by-step instructions or links to resources that can help them understand the technology. For example: your first prompt might require students to upload a picture of themselves and write a short bio. Include information about how to add images, add text, or show students how to do this in class. Once they know these steps, you can remove this scaffold from the prompt!
  5. Break larger assignments down into smaller assignments that focus in on a particular skill or type of knowledge.
  6. Build upon student’s prior knowledge and abilities.

For more general guidance on scaffolding prompts, check out this link from the University of Buffalo.

Use your prompts to help guide students in selecting artifacts to showcase within their own ePortfolio. Artifacts can include things like essays, presentations, videos, images… essentially anything that can be used as a digital representation that provides evidence of a student’s experiences, achievements, or mastery of learning outcomes. When developing a prompt, you can specify what artifacts you would like students to include or help guide them towards thinking about how they can use artifacts to represent a specific skill or competency you are teaching within your course. When determining what artifacts students should include, consider how you will be assessing their learning. Additionally, consider pairing the artifact selection process with prompts that support reflection, as “[it] is the reflection that occurs alongside this exploration that produces deep learning and allows students to develop their thinking about complex subjects as it happens and sort out the lessons of a course upon reflection at the end of the term” (Sanborn & Ramirez, 2020).

Reflection is an integral part of the ePortfolio. It helps students consider their own growth, understand their progress, make connections across their learning journeys, and think critically about the ways their past, present, and future inform each other. So, how can you ensure you are prompting students to engage in thoughtful, meaningful reflection?  

First, remember that reflections come in many different forms, and there is no one way that reflection should occur. Encourage students to write, share conversational reflections, reflect with others, or to get creative with it. Choose the mode that makes the most sense for your course and the concepts you are encouraging students to reflect upon. Then, develop questions or activities that students can incorporate into their ePortfolios that guide them through the process of reflecting. If you need some ideas to help get started developing reflective prompts, check out Edutopia’s 40 Reflection Questions 

Another critical part of developing good reflective prompts is to extend this practice beyond the confines of your classroom. When writing reflective prompts, think about how you can encourage students to reflect on the connections that exist between 1. their experiences in your course, 2. their experiences across courses, terms, and disciplines, and 3. their academic, co-curricular, and lived experiences (Eynon & Gambino, 2017). 

Digication contains a wide variety of tools for designing an ePortfolioVideosaudio recordingsuploaded filesembedded media, and images are just some of the ways that students can express their learning within Digication. In your prompts, you can specify the type of media you want your students to use when responding to a prompt. Encouraging students to use a wide variety of tools not only allows them to be creative, but it also supports UDL principles by offering multiple types of media through which students can express their learning. 

General “About Me” prompt:  
  • Introduce yourself to your audience. Remember: this portfolio will be shared publicly, so your audience includes peers, advisors, other instructors, and even potential employers!  
  • Use your About Me section to give viewers a glimpse into your personality, values, and/or aspirations.  
  • Ideas to include: personal anecdotes, quotes that resonate with you, images of your hobbies, favorite activities, or pets… get creative with it! Use images, audio, video, or text– whatever you feel helps you to represent who you are! 
Sample “Final Reflection” prompt from chemistry course:  
  • Using the video or audio recording tool in Digication, record a 3-5 minute video/audio clip in which you respond to the following questions: 
  1. What specific concepts or theories did you learn in this course that you find have been most relevant to your field of study? 
  2. What specific artifacts of your work did you include in the other sections of your ePortfolio that demonstrate your ability to think critically and solve problems?  
  3. Then, explain how the concepts that you have learned about in your course might help you to develop a deeper understanding of your field of study. For example:  
    • Engineering students can use their chemistry knowledge to develop new materials, design more efficient chemical processes, and improve the performance of existing products. 
    • Environmental science students can use their chemistry knowledge to study the chemical composition of the environment, understand the impact of human activities on the environment, and develop solutions to environmental problems.  
General reflection prompt from an experience in a museum education course: 
  • Write a 500 words reflection explaining:  
    • What was your understanding of what constituted museum education before our meeting with Georgia Krantz at the Guggenheim museum?  
    • What is now your overall understanding of what museum education is?  
    • What did you find the most interesting/surprising/challenging/provocative in today’s discussions?  
  • Finally, what evolution do you think museum education could/should take? Illustrate your answer using your own materials or information found from this link.

(Prompt from ePortfolio Assignment Guide) 



Additional References:

  • Enyon, B., & Gambino, L.M. (2017). High-impact ePortfolio practice: A catalyst for student, faculty, and institutional learning. Stylus Publishing, LLC. 
  • Sanborn, H., Ramirez, J. (2020). Artifacts in ePortfolios: Moving from a repository of assessment to linkages for learning. In M.A. Dellinger & D.A. Hart, ePortfolios@edu: What we know, what we don’t know, and everything in-between (pp. 193- 200). WAC Clearinghouse. DOI: 10.37514/PRA-B.2020.1084.2.10