Since becoming and writing teacher I have been interested in the potential for portfolios to document and deepen learning, as well as provide authentic assessment. In about 2000, I began asking students to keep reflective electronic portfolios (eportfolios) and led workshops for faculty development and student career searches. In 2002, as a new director of Northern Illinois University’s (NIU) First-Year Composition (FYComp) program, I implemented programmatic outcomes and piloted an eportfolio assessment, and in 2003 joined the first cohort of ten colleges and universities comprising the Inter/National Coalition for Electronic Portfolio Research (I/NCEPR). With the help of coalition leaders and participants, NIU FYComp refined its eportfolio assessment and developed a reflective teaching eportfolio for new teaching assistants. Since then, I have been very interested in learning more about eportfolio practices at other schools and even in other countries, particularly Japan.
Fall 2015 Sabbatical Leave
My work with FYComp eportfolios and the I/NCEPR over the past 12 years has kindled a strong interest in the conversations, contexts, and collaborations needed to move from course and program eportfolio implementations to institutional and inter-institutional partnerships. In particular, I have been working with partners across NIU, such as the Office of Assessment Services and the PLUS General Education program to create and pilot a longitudinal general education eportfolio that students would use to demonstrate outcomes, deepen learning through reflection, and develop professional identities for job-seeking purposes. Furthermore, since NIU accepts about half its students through transfer from our local community colleges, I have been working with interested faculty and administrators from those colleges to build a regional eportfolio collaboration, the Illinois Regional Eportfolio Partnership (IREP).
In investigating the conditions necessary for scaling up to larger partnerships, I first worked with my daughter to create a poster presentation for the 2015 Conference on College Composition and Communication. During the sabbatical semester, we remediated this poster for audiovisual presentation at Kumamoto and Osaka Universities in Japan, as well as at Iowa State University. I also further remediated this work for book chapter in a collection on eportfolio practices, with much help from members of the I/NCEPR at a special summit in Washington DC. Research conversations at Kyoto, Osaka, and Kumamoto universities in Japan, as well as at Iowa State University and the University of Iowa, shaped the book chapter and gave me insight into the systematic and contextual issues that face those who are struggling to scale up to larger eportfolio initiatives in the US and Japan. I will present my discoveries in this area to my department and am drafting a comparative article on larger-scale eportfolio use in Japan.