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>  News Releases >   2003 >   April

E-portfolios: more than just résumés

Posted 04/18/03, by Kathleen McDermott '03

Min Zhang '05 learns to use an e-portfolio with instructor Kathryn Doughty from Career Services earlier this term (photo by Joseph Mehling '69)
New tool helps contextualize college experience

For Diana Arias '06, joining the Women in Science Project (WISP) meant the opportunity to research stars with John Thorstensen, Professor of Physics and Astronomy.

But the experience also made Arias, along with the other 60 WISP interns this year, part of a pilot project introducing a new online learning portfolio, or "e-portfolio," to students and faculty members at Dartmouth.

An "e-portfolio" is an online collection of a student's academic and co-curricular work and experiences. For the WISP interns, their e-portfolios have become sites to document their research, record their personal reflections as their internships progress, and catalog their past academic and work-related experiences. Sections of their portfolios can then be viewed by their faculty mentors, increasing the dialogue and communication between the students and their mentors.

"It's a great resource to have," Arias noted. "I know it's going to serve me for the future."

Kathryn Doughty, Associate Director of Career Services and project manager of the e-portfolio program, explained that as a result of the documentation and increased interactive learning made possible by the e-portfolio, students will be better able to articulate and reflect upon their Dartmouth experiences. Such an ability will prove crucial to their academic and co-curricular planning as well as career planning, she noted.

"The e-portfolio helps students to contextualize their college experiences by helping them to see the cumulative meaning of their education," Doughty noted.

"If one does a good job of connecting coursework and activities and other life experiences through the e-portfolio," when it comes time to search for post-graduate opportunities, students will be more successful, said Skip Sturman, Director of Career Services.

"It's a great resource to have. I know it's going to serve me for the future."

-Diana Arias '06

Across the nation, as other colleges like Dartmouth recognize the importance of reflection in student learning, "we're seeing a rapid increase in portfolios," Doughty said. Many colleges have made available to their students some form of web-based portfolio program, and several have begun to require or strongly encourage their use. Leaders in higher education have been meeting to discuss how web-based portfolios can be used to enhance the undergraduate experience, Sturman said.

In addition to introducing e-portfolios to the Dartmouth campus, Doughty has become a leader in promoting the utility of portfolios in student learning. In the fall, she represented Dartmouth at the American Association of Higher Education's National Meeting of Electronic Portfolio Leaders in Washington, D.C.

Dartmouth is currently collaborating with Connecticut College and several other liberal arts institutions as it develops its pilot e-portfolio program. Doughty says her office is working to publicize the new program to administrators and faculty members, as well as soliciting feedback from the pilot group.

Sturman said the "potential of this tool is unlimited." As Dartmouth looks to increase the use of e-portfolios on campus, he says he envisions the e-portfolios as providing a crucial link in student-faculty relations. "Many on campus work as advisors for students. The e-portfolio can help to pull that community of advisors and students together," he noted.

- Kathleen McDermott '03

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