A critical approach to eportfolios in higher education: How research may inform change and adoption

A critical approach to eportfolios in higher education: How research may inform change and adoption

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A critical approach to eportfolios in higher education: How research may inform change and adoption

Higher education programs espouse increasingly ambitious graduate outcomes, ranging from enhanced capacity for self-assessment to sophisticated demonstrations of information literacy. As assessments, eportfolios are seen as means to both fostering and evaluating students’, achievement of such complex outcomes. This accounts in part for the growing popularity of eportfolios over the last two decades.Is this zeal warranted? Critical and objective research into eportfolios comprises a small percentage of the abundant literature. Thus, faculties, programs and universities establishing or enhancing eportfolio programs may relay on enthusiasm rather than criticality as they manage adoption and use. This plays a large role in the common problems undermining successful adoption and effective use.A critical, research-informed perspective is essential to understanding and effectively utilizing eportfolios as assessment in higher education. Drawing on results from a grant-funded mixed-methods research project, this paper critically examines variables in eportfolio use at a tertiary level. Data from survey, interviews and focus groups across three disciplines were analysed. Results include the need to examine technology, learning, and assessment together as interconnected phenomena and the relationship of curriculum planning to sustained engagement and complex outcome achievement. Significance of results to research as well as change management will be discussed.Keywords: eportfolios, higher education, learning-oriented assessment, technology acceptance model

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