Evaluating an e-Portfolio implementation with early adopters using Appreciative Inquiry

Elizabeth Symonds

Abstract


The benefits of using e-Portfolio tools to enhance the student learning experience have been widely reported. These benefits include opportunities for reflection, flexibility, connectivity and integrated learning. In recognition of these potential benefits to students, the University of Worcester adopted an institution-wide e-Portfolio system which is available to all staff and students at the university.
In order to maximise the potential of this system, a study was carried out to elicit staff and student views as to what the benefits of using an e-Portfolio were. It is all too easy to focus on the negative aspects when struggling to implement a new initiative, particularly involving technology. With this in mind a conscious effort was made in the evaluation to value and learn from the positive experience of users.
Feedback was sought from early adopters of the system in an Appreciative Inquiry framework in order to ascertain the benefits of using such a system, to both staff and students, and to inform future practice and recommendations. Findings of the inquiry indicated that there are three significant factors which can influence effective practice with e-Portfolios: tutor engagement, support and embeddedness. Whilst both staff and student users found the use of e-Portfolio beneficial for the teaching and learning process, the issues that were raised by each group were subtly different.
This paper will discuss how staff and students perceive the benefits of using an e-Portfolio and the factors that can influence engagement. It will also consider the implications of using an Appreciative Inquiry approach in institutional research.

Keywords


e-Portfolio; evaluation; learning technology; staff and student views

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ISSN: 1759-667X