I cannot believe this is my final blog. It’s strange to think nearly an entire year has past since I first applied to participate in this program last July. Conducting this study on ePortfolios with Dr. Anstendig has been such a rewarding experience. Although, I had to complete this research project from a distance – this situation has not hindered our project in any way.
Over the last few months – with the assistance of the ePortfolio eTerns – we interviewed nine students in order to uncover evidence of student learning. The interviewees provided great insight into the benefits of using ePortfolios in their courses, programs, student life, and career development. For example, one of the greatest benefits of ePortfolios is its ability to help secure employment after graduation. One hundred percent of the students said they would show their ePortfolios to a potential employer. As Mathew Indix explained, ePortfolios can “work to [a graduate’s] favor when applying for a position and interviewing with a potential employer.” These interviews also highlighted students’ understanding of the importance of reflection. For example, as Stephanie Moody said, “Reflecting on other people’s responses opens up the discussion instead of just in class, but also through writing.”
At the same time, Dr. Anstendig and I continued to evaluate student’ (thirty in total) completed ePortfolios online. We read their reflective blog post entries and analyzed external links, embedded information, and the files/documents uploaded. While reading student blog posts, we searched for common themes and shared traits. Ultimately, we found that more than seventy-five percent of the students demonstrate growth in their ability to reflect.
We decided, appropriately, to create an ePortfolio page to highlight our work for the upcoming showcase. Over the last two weeks, we have spent a great deal of time building the page and including important artifacts, such as these blog entries and our final paper. I created and uploaded a story digital story that highlights the benefits of ePortfolios. In addition, we have included a “working draft” of the article we hope to submit to the International ePortfolio Journal.
The biggest challenge we faced was the lack of time to fully complete our project. Despite the great headway we have made and the results we have already uncovered, we have more work to complete before publishing an article. Currently, we are still in the process of interviewing students. We have also reached out to Professors asking to arrange interviews. For this reason, I do not view the conclusion of the Undergraduate Research Initiative as an end point for our research. Even though, I graduate next month, I remain committed to enhancing our research – and to helping ensure the article’s completion and publication.