Coining a new term – bPortfolios

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about electronic portfolios recently.  Both faculty and students have been unhappy with our current implementation.  Faculty see the system as onerous because it doesn’t fit well with their current assessment practices. Students view the system as just another requirement, rather than as a way to reflect on their learning and showcase examples of their work.

After reading Helen Barrett’s work where she uses various Web 2.0 technologies to create an electronic portfolio, I though that a blog might be the best tool for creating a portfolio.  I’m working with Andrew Lumpe on this idea.  He points out that a blog may allow to students to have a more holistic portfolio experience by moving them beyond the one artifact to one standard mentality.

We have started a pilot project with a group of students to test some of our ideas.  Rather than electronic portfolios or ePortfolios, we will call this Blog Portfolios or bPortfolios.  Here are some of our initial thoughts. We would appreciate any help fleshing these ideas out.  Also, it’s important to note that we will probably not use all of these ideas with our pilot group.

  1. Faculty utilize a blog’s (WordPress) journaling feature to help students reflect on their learning as it is happening.
  2. Program chair works with professors to include an assessment where students make at least five journal entries during each course.  To avoid duplicating work, these  posts can come from comments students have already made on the Discussion Board.
  3. Students would be encouraged to attach projects, papers, as well as work-related documents such as lesson plans, example of their students’ work, etc. to their blog entries.
  4. Performance indicators for each standard would be used to generate a list of suggested terms students should address in their blog posts.
  5. Students would have access to this list of terms, allowing them to reflect on topics that aren’t necessarily intended to be the focus of the courses they are currently taking
  6. These suggested terms would help students generate their own list of tags that would develop into a folksonomy they could use to continue to reflect on important topics related to their teaching, even after the program ends.
  7. Students would categorize their posts in WordPress using the program standards.
  8. Student authors or others would be able to click on a category or tag in a blog and see a list of related reflections.
  9. During the capstone course students would be asked to create pages in WordPress where they create a concise meta reflection with artifacts for each of the program standards.
  10. Students then self-assess their portfolios by completing likert scale “quizzes” in Blackboard.
  11. Faculty review bPortfolios, providing feedback and approval for completing a program requirement.
  12. Students are encouraged to continue reflecting of the standards and tagging topics. They are also encouraged to use bPortfolios with their own students and parents.


  1. David,
    I really like this idea. I think it answers one of the major questions regarding assessment. That is, “How do I build portfolio assessment into my program?” If each course has some assessment that relate to blog entries done in their course, but then as a capstone activity, students draw from those already assessed blog entries, all the capstone instructor has to do is assess the reflection linking the entry to a specific standard. That’s much easier than building and grading an entire portfolio from the ground up in a capstone course.

    I’d love to stay in dialogue about how this works. I also have questions. For example, could the student tag their entries by standard and then use those tags to “mine” their program blog for info related to each standard? That would certainly ease the difficulty of developing that “meta reflection” and locate artifacts related to each standard.



    1. Thanks Frank,

      Yes, program chairs need to be thinking about how portfolio assessment can be built into their program rather than trying to figure out how to make portfolios an add-on to individual courses. Telling faculty they need to assess standard X doesn’t seem to be enough. There needs to be clear procedures which students are aware of that are consistent from course to course.

      I’m excited that you see the big picture behind this idea. A student can tag and categorize each entry, allowing her/him to address more than one standard on a reflection. When it comes time to write the “meta reflection” a student will be able to click on a category (a standard) or tag (key educational term) and quickly see his/her thoughts on a particular standard or topic. It’s this feature that makes me believe that a blog can be superior to a wiki as a portfolio tool. Let me explain further. A wiki environment provides a way for a student to continually edit a document over time as he/she grows in understanding of the standard. In order to see growth, the history of the wiki would need to be replayed . A blog would be able to show change chronologically and growth could be queried on any tag or category in the blog.

      I’d love to talk more about this with you at your convenience. I’d like to hear your thoughts on the best way to get program improvement data from this system.

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