Portfolios: Getting "buy-in" from students and faculty

Portfolios: Getting "buy-in" from students and faculty

by Roselynn Verwoord -
Number of replies: 3

Hi Everyone,

One of the themes that emerged this morning from our one-hour synchronous presentation and discussion on the UBC Portfolio Community of Practice was about getting "buy-in" and motivating students and faculty to use portfolios.

We would love to hear how you are dealing with getting buy-in from students and faculty around portfolio use and have provided some starting discussion questions including:

- How do you encourage buy-in at different levels (student, faculty, staff)?  

- What kind of resistance (if any) have you experienced to portfolios?

- What makes portfolios worthwhile for you, your students or your program?

We look forward to hearing your responses! 

Thank you,


In reply to Roselynn Verwoord

Re: Portfolios: Getting "buy-in" from students and faculty

by Amy Severson -
I had nearly forgotten, but we experimented with online program-based portfolios with two different departments a few years ago.

The students bought-in in both cases because it was part of the final project or a degree requirement.

We used the same platform in both, and there was resistance for two very very different reasons. The platform was a very structured one, and for one program (call it program A), it was too onerous to navigate and manage. It had a new vernacular to understand which was not related to their day to day activities. A staff member ended up adding many of the portfolio items for the users. For the other program (we'll call it program B), which was more technically oriented, the platform was far too restrictive - they couldn't customize it to their needs or design objectives.

The resistance was in part due to the structure of the online platform, but it would be interesting to explore more how the ideas of portfolios were introduced. Program B had a long history of using print based portfolios in their courses, and depending on what they did with their degree, an industry expectation of a portfolio. The industry expectations would be wide ranging, implicit, not explicit and would vary in different companies, for different jobs and would be expected to evolve as societies use of technology changed. It's no surprise to me that these students would resist using a proprietary, structured system that did not fit with what they were learning about and what they expected to do after graduation.

Program A has an industry expectation for portfolios, but one that is far more structured and rigid. So the portfolio in that scenario is a drudgery, perhaps, where you can't express your personality, but just check of the job requirements.

My involvement with each program ended at the end of the experiment with that online platform, so I'm not sure what direction the program portfolios went in....


In reply to Roselynn Verwoord

Re: Portfolios: Getting "buy-in" from students and faculty

by Brent Lee -
This topic has my attention, and I thought I would provide some insight into how I have used portfolios within my program with great success:

- How do you encourage buy-in at different levels (student, faculty, staff)?

Each student in our program has to place their submissions on their Portfolio (Mahara). They then provide the link to the artifact in the dropbox in Moodle or submit their work in a paper format.

Students enjoy our portfolios purely because they use them to get employment. They provide a link to their learning portfolio on their resumes when seeking work. We now have 145 active portfolios (these are students who are still maintaining their portfolios after they have left our program). Life long learning for real!!

- What kind of resistance (if any) have you experienced to portfolios?

Initially my students had a hard time understand the value and reason to create. I tacked some marks, so they had to provide information via their portfolio, and through their advancement in the program, they come to enjoy it like a hobby.

- What makes portfolios worthwhile for you, your students or your program?

Creative expression is my personal enjoyment, and it also gives us (the program) a way to see how alumni are doing.
In reply to Roselynn Verwoord

Re: Portfolios: Getting "buy-in" from students and faculty

by Julia Hengstler -
Since I'm working with this as a first run implementation I can give you my projections:

The retention of artifacts created by students is required to demonstrate their attainment of standards to enter the teaching profession in BC. So in our case there is a driver that cannot be ignored. Electronic creation & archiving is the obvious choice for long term solutions in this situation. I believe re. our tool choice--Mahara--we have the flexibility for the students to provide what we need for reporting out, for developing a capstone portfolio to reflect & celebrate their accomplishments as well as morph it into something they can use to get a job. I think the "sell" would be more difficult without platform flexibility to meet the institutional & individual needs.

Re. faculty buy-in--as previously stated we must have this electronic portfolio and it must be built through our programs and classes. Faculty have a range of comfort learning new technologies--so I imagine a phase-in approach with early adoption driven by those who are passionate about technology and/or eportfolios will be the route. The need to tag content with course data (e.g. course codes) may create some interesting potential issues re. assessment of courses & instructors via eportfolio content--or not. One of the challenging aspects of working in post-secondary education, unlike the business sector--or even K-12 in BC, is that we can't take a day or 1/2 day and say "OK, today everyone in our department will learn the basics of how to work the eportfolio system." Even in K-12, the administration had control of a school based day--and could set the agenda.

It's also challenging for a school or department to look at each instructor contributing to the overall graduation/skill set of a student through each assignment. I think eportfolios, in the teacher credentialing area, can develop a more systemic perspective re. assignments then previously. Not just how does this assignment help students pass this course--how would it evidence that this student is now more ready to be a teacher--ready to be a credentialed teacher? At the same time, this could be a great asset to program development--helping align all that is done with the ultimate objectives of a program.

What I like most is for students to compare their earlier content with their exit content: here is where I was and look how far I've come. These are not necessarily what students want to present for employment or credentialing--or even a capstone, but for me, this type of portfolio is the true measure of their growth. Not just stating, "I used to believe x" but the passionate novice statement in all it's fervor & naivete compared with the voice of greater knowledge & experience--or the "I can't do that" compared with "Look what I can do..."