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Identifying the key issues that will persuade staff and students to engage with ePortfolios: the results of nine pilot modules. Peter Chalk London Metropolitan University ‘Telling stories’, Wolverhampton, June 2008. or ‘ Stuck in the mud ’. A very mixed story…. Background.

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Identifying the key issues that will persuade staff and students to engage with ePortfolios: the results of nine pilot modules

Peter Chalk

London Metropolitan University

‘Telling stories’, Wolverhampton, June 2008

or stuck in the mud
or ‘Stuck in the mud’
  • A very mixed story…
  • Autumn 2007 London Met ePortfolio pilot
  • Nine modules from Foundation Degree to Honours Degree 1-3 to Masters
  • Existing PDP framework includes specified tasks and PDP related assessment in core spine modules (
why go electronic
Why go electronic?
  • Increasing expectation by employers – will improve students’ employability (currently low at London Met)
  • Part of London Met’s e-enablement policy (all modules to use VLE)
  • Students’ evidence/ artefacts increasingly digital – multimedia/ CV – as are tools
  • Improves sharing with multiple viewers
  • Summer of 2007 tutors introduced to the new ePortfolio system by workshop, online and face to face support
  • Encouraged to integrate it into their module preparation, materials, teaching, learning strategy, classroom organisation and assessment (pre-pilot findings, Chalk 2007)
examples of eportfolio use
Examples of ePortfolio use
  • In addition to those following:
    • Levels 1 and 2 to upload CV in HE orientation (HEO) and employability modules
    • Level 3 project blog shared with supervisor
    • Level 1 Film Studies HEO module, to store a log of film criticisms
    • Level 2 maths employability module with six PDP related tasks.
eportfolio evidence
ePortfolio evidence
  • Evidence of student (and staff) engagement includes
    • Examples of student work
    • Templates, tools and other resources developed by staff
    • Results of observations and discussions with staff and students

Positive image – role model for non-traditional student – FDSc students enthusiastic compilers of ePortfolios



  • Evaluation of the Autumn pilot was carried out by
    • Two questionnaires to students,
    • Two workshops for staff, Nov & Jan
    • Email discussion,
    • Observation, and
    • Analysis of actual student ePortfolios
selective feedback from 3 staff
Selective feedback from 3 staff
  • Very few students not in the pilot tutorial group chose to use the ePortfolio.
  • Very few students have engaged any more than was absolutely necessary. 30% experienced a significant degree of difficulty in using the system
  • The ePortfolio was not assessed in any way so little engagement: one uploaded their CV, two provided some evidence of reflection
staff feedback 2 events management
Staff feedback 2 (events management)
  • 71% of the students in one tutorial group used the ePortfolio for their reflective commentary, and 28% of these had invited guests to view it (but not the module leader),
  • In another group only 37.5% used the ePortfolio to record their reflections and none invited in guests,
  • Students’ reasons for non-engagement: costly, confusing, unstable internet, too much effort.
staff feedback 3 film studies
Staff feedback 3 (film studies)
  • ePortfolio is an improvement over paper-based PDP, customisable by student, told “this is London Met’s Facebook”, but it’s not as user-friendly,
  • Tutor can see lots of potential but needs to be integrated into teaching and learning throughout the course and not just on one module,
  • Can use multimedia binder to store short films, only place to store seminarlogs throughout their course.
student feedback 1 events
Student feedback 1 (events)
  • “I don’t think I will find it useful since a lot of my courseworks have to be scanned if I want it in my portfolio and that’s quite time consuming for me”,
  • “I am using the reflections tool… it will be useful”,
  • “I use the blog, not the CV tool as I use my own version, I don’t like the layout”
student feedback 2 sports fdsc
Student feedback 2 (Sports FDSc)
  • “I find this portfolio system safe and also fun… I can post my work on it and add other accessories, e.g. poems, pictures, videos etc. Using this portfolio has been one of my greatest experiences”
  • Non-traditional students compiled ePortfolios – introduced across whole course, assessed and supervised in lab.
student feedback 3 maths employability
Student feedback 3 (maths employability)
  • 16 students filled in November questionnaire with 90% stating they had uploaded files and added guests, 70% posted a comment and adapted the presentation, only 40% using the CV tool.
  • The most positive ratings were for guest control, showcasing achievement, improving employability, developing self and subject awareness, reflecting on progress.
  • The least positive ratings were for developing creativity and learning about ePortfolios.
results of evaluation questionnaires
Results of evaluation questionnaires
  • In November generally positive on a Likert scale questionnaire about features
  • In January, at the end of the modules, a free text email drew 26 responses, 6 positive and 20 negative
  • Evidence from ePortfolios seen by author is patchy (CVs uploaded here, blog written there) except Sports Coaching – see earlier slide – for showcasing/ feedback & session evaluation/ SMART/ standards evidence/ learning object design
  • London Met has decided not to adopt one single ePortfolio system at present,
  • Insufficient evidence of ‘stickability’,
  • Need user friendly ePortfolio system, integrated into all aspects of the student’s life, including regular assessment related tasks and enthusiastically supported by academic staff,
  • Considering alternatives (new Blackboard, Pebble Pad, ELGG/Moodle, Web 2 Services),
  • Researching staff/student opinion…
future work
Future work
  • Working with the IV Cohort of the International Coalition for ePortfolio Research, using repertory grid analysis technique of personal construct theory (Kelly 1955, Steed & McDonnell 2003)
  • Identifying the key features required for the future ‘stickability’ of ePortfolios in HE
repertory grid analysis
Repertory Grid Analysis
  • Conference delegates may wish to consider its possible adoption, its strengths and weaknesses.
  • First, identify a category such as ‘storing, presenting and reflecting upon our own evidence of achievement’ (e.g. research papers, reports, other products)
rga selecting elements to compare
RGA – selecting elements to compare
  • What elements in the above discourse are important?
  • Examples:
    • Web site - PC disc – USB - protected web site
    • Blog - Wiki – Stored emails - Diary
    • Professional portfolio – CV tool
    • Brainstorming tool - Action plan tool
rga continued constructs
RGA (continued) constructs
  • Choose any 3 elements (and select two alike and the other different ‘in some way’ – this is the personal construct (& its opposite) – and repeat
  • Grade all the elements in a grid for each pair of constructs (including the ‘ideal’)
  • Analyse the pattern of graded constructs to identify important features required for ‘ideal’ ePortfolio
  • Chalk, P (2007) ’The WebLearn Portfolio and HEO pilot – implications for a blended learning approach’, workshop at London Met Teaching & Learning Conference 10/7/07. URL:
  • Kelly, G A (1955) The psychology of personal constructs, vol 1 and 2, Norton, New York.
references continued
References (continued)
  • Steed, A., & McDonnell, J. (2003). Experiences with repertory grid analysis for investigating effectiveness of virtual environments. In Proceedings of the 6th International Workshop on Presence. Aalborg, Denmark, 6-8 October 2003, (accessed 15.2.08)
  • The author would like to thank the contributions of the module leaders to this pilot project and to this paper: Mehryar Adibpour, Sarah Atchia, David Blundell, Dafna Hardbattle, Maureen Kendal, Justin Lance, Tom Lunt, Rosemary Stott and Heather Wanstall.
  • The author is a member of Cohort IV of the International Coalition for Electronic Portfolio Research (