Portfolio Introduction and Expectations

What is an e-portfolio?

For the purpose of the Cornerstones program, the e-portfolio is “a digitized collection of artifacts, including demonstrations, resources, and accomplishments”  that demonstrate a student’s work over time. E-portfolios are used in universities across the country to provide students in general education and major programs with opportunities to save, share, and reflect on coursework and/or co-curricular experiences. E-portfolios are (usually) designed by the students authors and built carefully over many semesters to reflect intellectual growth and skill development.

Why make an ePortfolio?

E-portfolios have two primary uses with corresponding audiences. Both uses and both audiences will be relevant for the Cornerstones e-portfolio project.

First, we use e-portfolios to demonstrate deep learning and intellectual growth over time. As one of George Kuh’s most important “High Impact Practices,” e-portfolios help us to integrate knowledge across disciplines, courses, and contexts; they prompt us to shift from seeing ourselves as consumers to producers of intellectual work; they invite audiences into our learning spaces, providing them with updated examples of our progress; they aid us in maintaining a critical, reflective record of our work during the busy years of college.

The primary audience here is ourselves, our peers, and our university community. By collecting our work in one place–including critical, creative, and experiential artifacts–we can begin to tell a story about what we’ve learned, how we’ve learned it, and why this learning is valuable in our academic, professional, and social lives. Essentially, this becomes a body of evidence that we can use to substantiate claims that we have achieved personal and programmatic learning objectives.

Importantly, e-portfolios are also valuable tools for university learning assessment. The evidence that students add to their portfolio demonstrates that we are  (or are not) meeting our institutional objectives. We use e-portfolio materials to tell stories about institutional success and to make arguments for changing what and how we teach.

Second, we use e-portfolios as a tool for professional development, a virtual space to house our resumes, writing samples, and evidence of skill or workplace preparation. The primary audience here is outside the university–the HR reps, professionals, and internship providers that will want to know more about you and your preparation. In your junior-year 1 credit e-portfolio course, you’ll learn how to rethink and redesign your portfolio to help market yourself to prospective employers and/or internships. The flexibility of the e-portfolio allows you to carefully craft a story about your professional interests, training, and suitability for employment. You can also include experiential and community-based examples of engagement or service, conveying to your reader that you are a well-rounded person who fully embraces all aspects of the PLU mission: inquiry, service, leadership, and care.

Where is my e-portfolio?

All students in the Cornerstones Pilot Program will receive a unique URL to house their e-portfolio. This URL will follow a standard naming convention:


example: srogers.plucornerstones.com

The Cornerstones program will host your e-portfolio until the end of your fourth year at PLU; at that point, we’re happy to help you move the site to your own hosting space. It isn’t hard to do.

What artifacts should my e-portfolio include?

There are some required artifacts, but much of your e-portfolio content will be up to you.

From your first year to your third year, the required artifacts are as follows:

  • The FYEP 101 Common Assignment and Artifact Essay
  • The FYEP 190 Common Assignment
  • A Formal Assignment from your SYEP 201 Course (determined by your professor)
  • A Formal Assignment from your SYEP 202 Course (determined by your professor)
  • A Final Reflective Essay–written in the junior year–that examines how your e-portfolio demonstrates that you’ve met the Cornerstones Pilot Program learning objectives.  

You will also need to include artifacts that specifically demonstrate your development in terms of the five PLU Cornerstones learning objectives: Methods of Inquiry; Expression and Dialogue; Citizenship and Community; Diversity, Justice, and Sustainability; and Vocation. These other artifacts may be drawn from the Cornerstones courses (FYEP and SYEP), your Distributive Core, or your Minor. If you need help deciding what to include, speak your professors, the Cornerstones Program facilitators (cornerstones@plu.edu), and/or use the chart below to make decisions about the kinds of artifacts that will best demonstrate your intellectual growth.

Outcome Artifact Selection Chart

Learning Outcome Goals/Objectives Possible Artifacts
Methods of Inquiry Demonstrate that you understand a range of disciplinary methods and how these methods are used to create, evaluate, and use knowledge.

Account for the assumptions and consequences of different perspectives in developing answers to complex questions.

Discipline specific genres of writing (e.g., lab reports, critical essays, close readings, ethnographies); field notes, reports, or journals; article or book reviews or analyses.
Expression and Dialogue Communicate clearly and effectively in oral, written, and/or digital modes.

Adapt communication to a variety of audiences using the appropriate media, convention, and/or style.

Essays and essay drafts; journal entries; research papers; web blogging; publications (online or in print); presentations (scripts and/or videos); webpages, art projects or installations.
Citizenship and Community Identify issues of public concern within specific cultural contexts.

Acknowledge conflicting ideas, principles, and values.

Explore strategies for implementing cooperative actions that address local, national, and/or global circumstances.

Essays and essay drafts; reflections on community engagement or service; video or print journals; photos; grant proposals; internship evaluations; event planning documents; weblogs and social media; service/leadership records.
Diversity, Justice, and Sustainability Demonstrate a critical understanding of DJS and the relationships between these ideas by exploring social, political, and economic power in local and global contexts.

Examine the perspectives and contributions of diverse groups of people.

Essays and essay drafts; presentations (scripts and/or videos); journal entries or reflective writing; reports; grant proposals; event planning documents.
Vocation Demonstrate a commitment to intellectual and affective development” by embracing questions of “purpose, faith, and fulfillment.”

Question the nature and value of service in every context of human experience.

Explore! reflections or activities; essays and essay drafts; presentations (scripts and/or videos); journal entries; professional development documents (resume drafts, skill inventories); reflections on community engagement and activity.