ePortfolios at the UR School of Nursing
Electronic portfolios (ePortfolios) are a high impact, student-centered tool which allows both students and faculty to assess student learning and growth within courses, across courses, and at the conclusion of an academic program.
Beginning in Fall 2019, the University of Rochester School of Nursing will require students in select master’s programs to create an ePortfolio to showcase their progress and activity as well as allow the student to reflect on the learning process and individual achievements.
What is an ePortfolio?
The learning assessment ePortfolio at the UR School of nursing is a collection of work (evidence) in an electronic format created by students as part of their academic program, as a way to demonstrate personal and professional growth, learning, and the learning process.
“Adding an ePortfolio to our already strong curricula at the School of Nursing is a huge value for both our students and our faculty. Now our students have the opportunity to showcase their learning and accomplishments while at the SON, and our faculty can better assess student learning, because all students learn in different ways – it’s a win-win for everyone.”
– Maria Marconi, EdD, RN, CNE
Not only does an ePortfolio help faculty assess student learning within courses, across courses and throughout academic programs, ePortfolios also help students deepen their learning, make meaning out of what they are learning, and demonstrate what they have learned by showcasing examples of assignments and other activities in which they have participated in.
An ePortfolio may contain all or some of the following:
- Files of various formats (text, pictures, video, etc.)
- Evidence related to courses taken, programs of study, etc.
- Writing samples (which might include several drafts to show development and improvement)
- Course Assignments
- Course Tests
- Student teaching evaluations
- Preceptor evaluations or feedback
- Projects prepared for class or extracurricular activities
- Evidence of creativity and performance in a particular course or area of interest
- Evidence of extracurricular or co-curricular activities, including examples of leadership
- Evaluations, analysis and recommendations
An effective ePortfolio is designed to document skills to achieve program learning outcomes identify knowledge, skills, and abilities desired by employers such as effective communication, problem-solving, and teamwork meet accountability expectations of accreditors and professional organizations.
The UR School of Nursing is implementing ePortfolios into our already strong curriculum for a number of reasons. An ePortfolio:
ePortfolios engages students in their learning because it is integrated into each course in your program and allows you to demonstrate the knowledge, skills and abilities you are acquiring in your own way, in addition to graded course assignments. The artifacts that you select to submit to your ePortfolio showcases the knowledge you have created or skills you have acquired. An ePortfolio allows students to select artifacts that demonstrate their learning both in and out of individual classes and a personal reflection of that learning. An ePortfolio is not useful if students simply submit assignments from their courses without any reflection of what they have learned.
Evidence shows students learn a great deal by participating in ePortfolio development. ePortfolios can offer students the opportunity to make connections across their experiences in each course, synthesize their learning, and articulate the meaning and significance of their experiences and learning first to themselves—and then to external audiences, such as faculty, school and practice leaders and even for potential job interviews. For students, an ePortfolio is opportunity to showcase individual skills and abilities in more than just a resume or cover letter.
One of the important components of ePortfolio is having students reflect on the work they do and they knowledge, skills, and abilities they gain while in School of Nursing programs. More than a place to archive work that is done and assignments that are completed, the ePortfolio requires students throughout their program to place their work in broader personal or intellectual contexts. Reflective practice allows adult students and health care professionals to think about their learning more deeply.
Learning involves making connections between new concepts/ideas/facts/perspectives and building upon previous knowledge. The ePortfolio component of collaboration allows students to build a network of professional and interprofessional connections while they prepare to become healthcare practitioners, leaders, educators and researchers. Connections and relationships that are developed during precepted clinical experiences, student teaching, leadership projects, and participation in extracurricular activities all contribute significantly to student learning. Showcasing these experiences and reflecting upon these experiences in an ePortfolio format, result in deeper learning and professional growth.
Our curricula is rich and our students are tremendously talented and diverse. By having an ePortfolio that allows students to highlight their learning both inside and outside of the classroom, students have the opportunity to creatively and personally document their learning and tailor it to their professional nursing and health care careers.
Our accreditors require us to assess our student learning within our courses, across our courses, and at the completion of each program. Evidence supports that the best way to do this is the direct assessment of student work over time, as opposed to employing standardized tests or other instruments. Authentic assessment using ePortfolios better allows us to “close the assessment loop” and use the data to improve our teaching and learning at the University of Rochester School of Nursing.
Reading reflection of student thinking helps course and program faculty gain insight into how students experience their courses, how those courses relate to other courses, and what kind of impact Signature Assignments are having on student learning. This is often more helpful feedback than we receive from course evaluations.
The ePortfolio is a way for students to demonstrate their learning with actual evidence rather than simply through grades, tests, and clinical performance. It allows our academic programs to document how the curriculum is experienced by students and how well they are meeting our expectations as well as their own goals and expectations.
It's not enough for us to simply identify course, program, and institutional learning outcomes. We want students to work intentionally toward achieving those outcomes. Students complete signature assignments in each course that are aligned to their program learning outcomes.