How Do I Teach This Thing?

What are the goals of the e-portfolio?
E-portfolios provide students with valuable opportunities to self-assess, to seek out evidence of learning, to develop digital composition skills, and to share their work with a range of audiences in and beyond the university. In the Cornerstones program, the e-portfolio is also meant to be a binding element that students will use to integrate learning across courses, disciplines, and semesters while they complete their work in the program. Importantly, there are four important phases of e-portfolio development:

Selection
Students select materials that best demonstrate their progress toward programmatic outcomes and classroom/assignment objectives; they evaluate audiences and consider the conventions that govern specific genres and assignments; they design e-portfolio pages using multiple forms of media (print text, images, videos, etc.)

Evidence-based Reflection
Students reflect on their development over time and between courses, using the evidence found in their e-portfolio to make a compelling argument that they have grown intellectually, socially, and/or professionally; they work to demonstrate knowledge transfer between coursework, co-curricular activities, and professional development opportunities.

Revision
Students evaluate and revise the individual pieces in the e-portfolio; they evaluate and revise the design and layout of the e-portfolio itself.

Assessment
The Cornerstones program will use student e-portfolios as the primary tool for evaluating both individual student achievement and the success of the entire Cornerstones program in meeting its central learning objectives; e-portfolios will help us to tell a story about teaching, learning, community, and vocation in the Cornerstones General Education Pilot Program.

How does the e-portfolio integrate into my course?
If you are teaching in the Cornerstones “Core” courses, you will have one assignment that students will be required to post to their e-portfolios. In FYEP, these are the common assignments. In SYEP, these are the required course artifacts (selected by the faculty). In the junior year e-portfolio course, this will be the comprehensive reflection essay. If you are not teaching a “Core” course, we invite you to encourage Cornerstones students to post work from your class to their e-portfolios. Each student is required to post materials that demonstrate development in each of the five learning outcome areas: methods of inquiry; expression and dialogue; citizenship and community; diversity, justice, and sustainability; vocation.

You are welcome to use the e-portfolio for other purposes (beyond the Cornerstones). For instance, you might use the e-portfolio to collect all coursework for a given semester, to host student blog writing for a particular class or assignment, to store drafts of writing-in-progress. If you’d like help planning an e-portfolio-based assignment, contact Scott Rogers (rogerssm@plu.edu) and we can get you some support related to curricular and/or technological needs.

Should I ask students to put an assignment into their e-portfolio before or after I grade it?
This one is up to you, but we hope that revision and development will always be at the heart of your decision. If you ask students to post an early draft (before comments), then they could always post a second, revised version later. If you ask a student to post a version with your comments, they can later use those comments to make changes and/or to prompt reflection on how their work has improved.

Note: FERPA regulations dictate that graded work should not be publicly accessible. Please ensure that your students know to remove any grades prior to uploading!

Do I need to help students with WordPress?
If you are comfortable with WordPress  we strongly urge you to offer some time to help students with their e-portfolios. Even if you don’t feel completely comfortable with the design tool, you can help them make decisions about what to include, how to arrange/organize it, how to design pages, etc.

However, we have no expectation that faculty will provide tech support for the e-portfolio requirement of the Cornerstones program. The Cornerstones Design Team has created a WordPress Mentors program staffed by undergraduate students well-versed in WordPress and the expectations of good e-portfolio design. You can contact the WordPress mentors by emailing cornerstones@plu.edu. We are happy to have a student mentor visit you or your class. We are also available for individual mentoring sessions with students in the Cornerstones program.

If you have additional questions about the WordPress mentors or other support options, please contact Scott Rogers (rogerssm@plu.edu).

How can I help students improve the quality of their e-portfolios?
One easy strategy is simply to take some time to sit with the student and offer feedback. Another option is to use some class time for peer reviewing e-portfolio materials. Finally, you can create (formal or informal) opportunities for reflection on e-portfolio materials or expectations.

Additionally, you can schedule time for a WordPress Mentor to visit your class or to hold 1-to-1 consultations with students in your class. Contact the WordPress Mentor program at cornerstones@plu.edu.

Should I tell students how to label their assignments?
File labeling is a painful, but essential part of maintaining effective organization in the e-portfolio. The most important tip you can give students is that they should remain consistent. Choose a file format and naming strategy and then stick with it. We recommend something like lastname_assignmenttitle.

How can I tell if a student has posted the required artifact from my class?
All Cornerstones student portfolios will be publicly available online (unless students choose to restrict access). You will have a master list of student urls (for all the students in the Cornerstones program), so checking their progress is as easy as typing in the appropriate url for the student in question. In most cases, the student’s site will follow the format: firstinitiallastname.plucornerstones.com

Should I help students select artifacts from other non-cornerstones courses?
Yes! If a student comes to you asking about artifacts that may or may not be suitable for the e-portfolio, we urge you to take some time to help them evaluate the suitability of the artifact and how it does or does not demonstrate one (or more) of the Cornerstones Learning Objectives: methods of inquiry; expression and dialogue; citizenship and community; diversity, justice, and sustainability; vocation.