In 2005, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), the organization that accredits Salt Lake Community College, informed the college that it needed a way to assess the learning outcomes of the general education program.
In response to NWCCU’s demand, the college began to examine different options and ultimately decided to introduce the ePortfolio program.
“We looked around at other colleges that were in a similar situation or had been in a similar situation,” said Kati Lewis, ePortfolio coordinator. “Some of them were doing standardized tests at the end of gen-ed career, and others were doing surveys, and some were doing ePortfolios.”
Lewis went on to explain that surveys and tests did not accurately assess the student’s abilities.
“We were finding from other colleges and universities that did use ePortfolios that they had actual evidence of student work in the ePortfolios, so it was a better way to see what students were learning in the gen-ed program,” said Lewis.
Most SLCC students will at some point create an ePortfolio to keep a record of signature assignments from their general education courses, but many students have complaints about the requirement, and some believe that the ePortfolio serves no practical purpose.
“I thought the main purpose of the ePortfolio was just to make students do more work and to piss us off,” said Spencer Richards, a current student at SLCC. “Or maybe because we are a smaller school and needed to learn how to create an educated profile.”
At SLCC, the ePortfolio is a course level requirement, and all general education courses are supposed to require a signature assignment and reflection that is to be showcased in each student’s ePortfolio.
“It was only worth a grade to me,” said SLCC student Spencer Vail. “I am not sure anybody has ever had it mean more than just a grade for them.”
According to Lewis, there are more uses for the ePortfolio than just to assess student learning.
“The ePortfolio is better than a resumé because it shows actual work,” said Lewis.
Kelly Ward, region president at Zions First National Bank, doesn’t find the ePortfolio to be a helpful tool in hiring a new employee.
“The ePortfolio seems to show only positive things about an applicant, but I would’ve already seen that in a resumé and in the interview process,” said Ward.
According to Mike Pearson, a region manager at Deseret First Credit Union, the ePortfolio could be used if he didn’t feel he got enough information from the interviewing process or resumé.
“If the site is clean and organized than I feel it would be a useful tool,” said Pearson. “[The ePortfolio] is another channel of information, and information is power.”