How to Implement ePortfolio into Your Program

As an integrative experience in a program, ePortfolios allow students to present evidence of their academic work and allow faculty to observe growth, competencies and leadership skills throughout a course of study.  As a student progresses through a program, faculty members and advisors can track and review what students have done to meet the program objectives. The information below can help you decide how best to implement ePortfolios into your program curriculum.

Consider implementing ePortfolios via Portfolium in your department’s program!

As an integrative experience in a program, ePortfolios allow students to present evidence of their academic work and allow faculty to observe growth, competencies and leadership skills throughout a course of study. As a student progresses through a program, faculty members and advisors can track and review what students have done to meet the program objectives. Please make note that SF State supports and uses Portfolium as its ePortfolio platform.

Getting Started Guide: Steps to get your program implemented.

Follow the four steps below to start the process of implementing ePortfolios in your department’s program.

Consider the following questions to help guide in how your department’s program wants to implement ePortfolios via Portfolium  

Identify your core goals 

  • Will ePortfolios be used at program/department and campus levels?
  • How will you use ePortfolios to support students? (e.g., formative or summative assessments, capstone or culminating projects, professional development, connecting entries to departmental/institutional goals/competencies or GE outcomes, showcasing portfolios to employers, any combination of the above.)

Determine a Gateway and culminating point 

  • What course is the gateway or starting point for the students to begin developing their ePortfolio?
  • What course is the culminating point or capstone for students to complete their ePortfolio for your program?
  • What signature assignments or key projects will you require students to post? 

Support students through the ePortfolio process 

  • What knowledge, skills, competencies, values and reflections will you want students to share in their portfolios?
  • What expectations and guidelines can you provide for how to represent signature assignments in an entry, create a philosophy or mission statement, demonstrate extra or co-curricular experience and/or leadership skills?
  • What types of media, artifacts or evidence do you want students to attach to their entries to demonstrate competencies in these areas? (e.g., documents, presentation slides, audio, video, images, links to external sources, observation logs or reports completed by experts in your field.)
  • What resources will you need to support students who are creating and uploading various media?
  • How might you share examples or models of successful ePortfolios (from other institutions or your program) with your students? 

Define ePortfolio and program outcome assessments 

  • What standards or processes for evaluation of ePortfolios will you use? (Peer review, rubrics, keywords/tags related to core competencies, etc.)
  • Do you have rubrics already developed that you can use or adapt to evaluate student ePortfolios?
  • Who will assess the ePortfolios (e.g. multiple faculty or external reviewers)?
  • Will you create an archive of student ePortfolios to support the further development of your ePortfolio project?

ePortfolio in departments/programs examples 

Map ePortfolio artifacts to objectives or standards 

  • Identify your courses/programs’ objectives/standards. 
  • Ascribe activities/assignments that directly align with the objectives/standards. 
  • Consider the level of competency required. 
  • How will your students demonstrate their competency? For example, writing down how to do something versus demonstrating how they do something via video clip, for example)  
  • Have your students write reflective statements: This allows them to describe how they feel when performing a skill. 

Creating and implementing ePortfolio assignments  

  • Create particular objectives or standards 
  • You and you students can be creative about how they reach particular objectives or standards 
  • Provide different formats for students to present their body of work 
  • ePortfolios provide opportunities to accommodate students’ different learning styles and different learning needs. 
  • Give students options regarding how they demonstrate skills and competencies. 

Clearly defining what is wanted from students for each ePortfolio assignment 

  • Students must go through ePortfolio processes as well. You can help students by clearly defining what you want them to do for each ePortfolio assignment. Clear instructions that define your expectations go a long way. Give a clear overview of the ingredients that are required in the ePortfolio and a timeline for completion. 
  • Students sometimes wait until the last minute to complete an ePortfolio assignment, making the artifact less valuable as a way to assess their learning or to bridge to a career. Consider breaking ePortfolio assignments into parts that are completed throughout the semester. 

Notes about access to technology and Universal Design for Learning 

When you create ePortfolio assignments, be sure to consider what technology students will need to complete them. If you want students to create a video, are there cameras for students to check out? Are there video editing stations for students to reserve? If you want students to create an artifact using specialized software (e.g., a statistics application like SPSS, a graphic editing application like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator), do any campus or college computer labs have that software available for students to use? 

Universal Design for Learning 

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an educational approach to make sure that every student has an equal chance to succeed. For more information visit the links below. Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST). The Center for Equity and Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Reflective prompts 

  • Reflective writing is a key component of an academic ePortfolio and what separates it from being just a "scrapbook" or a random collection of work. While each discipline will have unique directions for student reflections, we've found that the use of reflective prompts can be a good way to guide the reflective process. 
  • A reflection is not a simple statement evaluating the course, the professor, or a re-statement of what the course was or what you did in it. Reflection demonstrates critical thinking about the class, readings, or other materials, assignments and lectures. Each department will want to agree upon some reflective prompts to be shared with those courses those signature assignments will be collected from. 
  • Other departments encourage faculty to use sample reflective prompts related to integrative learning:
    • What concepts/ideas/readings/theories or other materials will you carry away with you from this course?
    • Where are places that you can see your courses overlap?
    • How does the material/theme in one course relate to the material in another?
    • How have you grown as a student over the course of this program?


When to evaluate ePortfolio work? 

  • Whether you evaluate student work throughout a course or program (i.e., formative evaluation), at the end (i.e., summative evaluation), or both, you should clearly define the evaluation process at the beginning. Students put a lot of work into showing what they know, so it is important that they show what you need to see, in the form you need to see it. Talking with students about the structure, or required element of the portfolio, can also be a good way to educate and highlight how certain of their "signature assignments" can connect to the course, program and institutional goals.
  • During a course, formative evaluation can include a peer review cycle or a period of time where you, as the instructor, will provide feedback on specific assignments. To facilitate this, some instructors provide their rubric or guidelines at the beginning of the term for the students to use during the peer review process. They then use the same rubric or guidelines for the summative evaluation.
  • Throughout a program, formative evaluation can take the form of evaluating artifacts as part of normal coursework. It can also mean setting specific times when the ePortfolio will be evaluated as part of the advising progress. For example, after completing 18 out of 30 units, the program or department might require each student to meet with their advisor to review the assignments completed by that point.

How to evaluate ePortfolio work? 

  • The learning objectives or standards give students a basic idea of what is expected and show instructors what to evaluate. However, there are several ways to evaluate the work itself. Instructors may use the same evaluation techniques they have used in the past. The only difference may be that the assignment is posted in the ePortfolio instead of submitted on paper.
  • Alternatively, some instructors are finding it useful to post the grading rubric for ePortfolios in the iLearn course (and drop points directly into the iLearn grade book). Another way is to offer direct oral feedback in person (in advising) or via Course stream (Lecture Capture) or a recording of a Web Conference session or private YouTube channel. Instructors can review and then share feedback while viewing a portfolio. This kind of "curatorial" feedback has proven very effective for students. Also, it has the added benefit of saving faculty from repetitive stress injuries, and students can review the recorded feedback as many times as they wish.

Who evaluates ePortfolio work? 

  • Throughout the course or program, you can involve others in the evaluation process. Some instructors use student peer review as a way to help students get feedback before submitting artifacts or reflections for a grade. Other instructors solicit experts' reviews when a student does co-curricular work, such as a field experience class, internship or oral presentation. If students use an ePortfolio throughout a program, you may construct panels to review final portfolios for completeness, or evidence of integrative learning, even though the individual artifacts and reflections have already been given grades from the instructors who assigned them. An oral presentation of the portfolio may also be a part of your assessment strategy.
  • Some programs invite panels of internal and/or external reviewers and employers from their field to evaluate ePortfolios after students have graduated to solicit feedback about the methods and types of evidence used to demonstrate competencies.
  • The evaluation of individual student assignments happens at the course level. However, if assignments are archived in an ePortfolio, instructors can review artifacts themselves, the student's reflections about the value or meaning of each artifact and different instructors' feedback about the student's work. In this way, the instructors and advisors can collectively track a student's growth and development, and provide formative guidance about next steps or areas to improve. Departments may also have both formative and summative reviews of a cohort or cluster of student portfolios. 

Assessment rubric examples: 

Contact to schedule a consultation and an implementation plan.