Members of the College of Business, Writing and Rhetoric, and Materials Science and Engineering are partnering with staff members from The Faculty Center in the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Technology (TLT) to participate in a year-long seminar program that seeks to advance the use of e-portfolios as a way to enhance student learning, and to assist in the transfer, accreditation, and assessment processes within institutions of higher education.
The team from Stony Brook received an $8,000 mini-grant from LaGuardia Community College, a widely recognized leader in the field of e-portfolios, to attend its 2010 Making Connections: An ePortfolio MiniGrant and Seminar Program, which brings together faculty and staff members from two- and four-year colleges and universities from the New York metropolitan area interested in or already actively using e-portfolio on their campuses.
“E-portfolios have emerged as a valuable tool for supporting enriched student learning and new approaches to assessment and accreditation,” states LaGuardia Community College in its grant application materials. “Nationwide, more than 250 campuses now use e-portfolios. As students build e-portfolios, they collect class work and reflect on their learning processes. E-portfolios are also a tool for enriched faculty learning.”
The grant money will be used to fund travel expenses for SB faculty and staff so they can attend LaGuardia’s 12 collaborative seminars (the first of which begins in February), and to advance the work of e-portfolios on campus with specific projects.
“The grant is designed to work with faculty,” said Patricia Aceves, director of the TLT Faculty Center. “Our writing and rhetoric department does some cross-curricular things with the business program and they were already using e-portfolios, so we thought they would be an excellent partner in this. The faculty members are then going to each develop their own projects and implement them with a group of students in the fall.”
Margot Palermo, a College of Business professor, and Carolyn Sofia, from the Writing and Rhetoric program, recently started an e-portfolio system in their collaborated Introduction to Business and Writing course. They rolled it out during the fall 2009 semester to 60 freshman business students, and eventually want to see all students and faculty in the College of Business using it.
“I encourage my students to create e-portfolios because it is a timeless, saved, work-in-progress for a student to showcase their work, build their resume, and keep their hard work that they are proud of in one safe place to show future employers or proud relatives,” said Palermo.
Writing Professor Gene Hammond says his department has had a paper portfolio system since Peter Elbow made Stony Brook nationally famous for choosing portfolios rather than tests as a crucial means of assessment in writing courses. This semester, for the first time, the department had an experimental group of five teachers who required e-portfolios rather than paper portfolios from their students. The system, once they got past a few glitches, worked very smoothly.
Nancy Wozniak, who is a learning architect in the TLT Faculty Center, has been using e-portfolios for quite some time. She researched them thoroughly using self-determination theory at her previous position at Dutchess Community College, and has witnessed firsthand how students improve.
“Their schoolwork improves because they are seeing it,” said Wozniak. “Putting your work up in an e-portfolio makes you want to do it just a little bit better. It’s all about intrinsic motivation.”