Lehman College, CUNY

ePortfolios as Connectors and Catalysts for Change

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Our focus on ePortfolios (beyond the actual capstone experience) has helped faculty build collaborative relationships across departmental and programmatic borders. Discussions about ePortfolio have been a connector and catalyst for some positive steps and we recognize the benefits that Randy Bass discusses in his, “ePortfolio as a Network of Connection” section of “Scaling Strategies and ePortfolio as a Catalyst for Change” article.

ePortfolio projects have begun to connect professors within programs. For example, in the Science Ed and Childhood Ed programs there has been one faculty member in each of these programs implementing a capstone ePortfolio experience. These individuals are now connecting with other faculty members in order to scale up to program ePortfolios. The Childhood Ed program will need to meet as a team to decide which aspects should be implemented in which courses. This will deepen the collaboration among the faculty in the program. The Science Ed program will also have to meet with other faculty and adjuncts associated with the program to discuss and solidify a coherent strategy for scaling up.  It is also important to note that the Science Ed Program encompasses both science education courses and science content area courses.  This involves the collaboration of science education faculty from the School of Education with science faculty from the School of Natural and Social Sciences.  Part of the Science Ed program scale up challenge and opportunity will be to identify and work with science faculty who would help to work on developing the structure and prompts for the science content area of the Science Ed ePortfolio.

The challenge to connect science faculty and science education faculty in an effort to collaborate on the development and implementation of ePortfolio pedagogy is not unique. In general, education faculty and faculty from schools of art and sciences have not always enjoyed an atmosphere of collaboration. At Lehman College, the effort to collaborate with ePortfolio initiatives across the School of Education and the School of Natural and Social Sciences is currently in its infancy.  One challenge (or opportunity) is to find science faculty who are already using ePortfolio or are will to try out the use of ePortfolio in their teaching.  Accordingly, being willing to team up with science faculty on the same campus or on another campus (at least initially) is important.  In this manner, Dr. Pitts is has identified a colleague (biochemist) at another campus who already uses a paper base portfolio as a key assessment of mastery learning in an upper level undergraduate biochemistry course. This colleague is very eager and willing to take the next steps to go from paper-based portfolio to ePortfolio. The idea here is to start with a willing and well-situated colleague.  This is a unique opportunity and can provide benefits for both campuses and programs. The next step in this effort would be to show case the collaboration on both campuses. As such, providing fertile ground to help foster inter and intra campus collaboration.

Additionally, the Educational Technology Coordinator has used regularly scheduled workshop times to encourage conversations about ePortfolio pedagogy that are beneficial to teaching and learning in general.  Our C2L team asked other faculty members to present on topics like, improving rubrics and developing reflective prompts.  Presenters were honored to share their expertise, and together the C2L team and presenters offered resources and some common approaches were recommended.  The conversations have been lively and reveal a genuine interest in each other’s work and the desire to learn from each other. The Educational Leadership Program has utilized some best practices and rubrics that were established by Childhood Education and there are many other examples of cross-fertilization. In some ways, this has also been the foundation of a slow recruitment effort. Many faculty have expressed interest in digitizing portfolio work, but have not wanted to individually take it on at the course level.  As we gear up to move from capstone to programmatic initiatives, many faculty have already been introduced to our work and are likely to be more receptive to integrative planning.

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Core Strategies for Building a Culture of Learning

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