Long Island City, NY—February 14, 2014—LaGuardia Community College, an international leader in student electronic portfolios (ePortfolio), has launched a first-of-its-kind website that demonstrates how ePortfolio initiatives can help colleges and universities enrich student learning, deepen pedagogy and assessment, and initiate institutional change.
Catalyst for Learning: ePortfolio Resources and Research, created by a network of 24 of the nation’s leading colleges, is designed to guide campuses in developing effective ePortfolio projects by offering sound evidence of the educational tool’s effectiveness, best-field practices, student stories and strategies that can enrich student learning.
According to recent surveys, more than 50% of colleges nationwide have ePortfolio projects. “Many campuses across the country recognize that ePortfolio has enormous potential, but often they’re not quite sure how to use it,” said Dr. Bret Eynon, associate dean for academic affairs and director of LaGuardia’s Making Connections National Resource Center. “The Catalyst site will guide colleges, helping them create ePortfolio projects that build student, faculty, and institutional learning.”
Drawing on reports and practices shared by campuses such as Boston University, Rutgers, Virginia Tech, Indiana University/Purdue University at Indianapolis, and Salt Lake Community College, the Catalyst site provides a comprehensive roadmap, laid out in three major sections: Evidence, Partners, and Catalyst Framework.
The Evidence page showcases the difference ePortfolio can make in higher education, spotlighting three major research findings: ePortfolio practice has the capacity to support greater student success as measured by pass rates, GPA and retention; it can help students engage in deeper learning; and it can help colleges develop as adaptive learning organizations.
“We reviewed data across campuses, and saw larger patterns about what works,“ said Dr. Eynon. “Data like this has never been collected before. Now it’s available for anyone to use, to guide their work and make their own project more effective.”
“The data helps us understand the impact of the ePortfolio experience on student learning,” said Professor Laura Gambino, of CUNY’s new Guttman Community College. “It makes student learning visible for students themselves and for their institutions, placing it in a broader and more holistic context.”
On the site, examples support each finding. For instance, backing the proposition that ePortfolio advances student success, the site highlights reports from multiple campuses with data demonstrating a strong correlation between ePortfolio practices and a higher level of student success. At San Francisco State University, for example, students in ePortfolio-enhanced learning communities show double-digit gains over other students in one year retention and four year graduation rates.
The Partners page showcases 24 campus portfolios developed by colleges in the network. Visitors can explore the ways different campuses use ePortfolio, examining community colleges, large state institutions, small private colleges and Research I universities. Highlighted in the rich, public ePortfolios are campus practices, developmental narratives and student stories.
The Catalyst Framework builds on the campus portfolios and asks the question: What do successful campuses do to launch, build, and sustain their ePortfolio initiative? Analyzing strategies and best practices, it takes the visitor through a step-by-step process exploring what it takes to realize ePortfolio’s potential.
The Framework shows how effective ePortfolio initiatives work in five interlocking sectors of campus life: pedagogy, professional development, outcomes assessment, technology and scaling up, which refers to the broadening and deepening of the ePortfolio initiative. Work in each sector reinforces the others, and helps colleges meet the challenges of 21st century higher education.
Dr. Randy Bass, vice provost at Georgetown University, has concluded that with the help of the Catalyst website, ePortfolio’s impact on teaching, learning and assessment will be firmly established.
“As we start to see shifts in higher education ” he said, “I think ePortfolio’s value will grow in all kinds of powerful ways.”
The website is the result of LaGuardia’s three-year project, Connect to Learning, which brought together 24 colleges representing a diverse cross-section of higher education. Funded by the Fund for Innovation in Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE) of the U.S. Department of Education, the project helped campuses deepen their own work while building the Catalyst resource site.
“LaGuardia is recognized throughout the country for building one of the nation’s largest and more successful campus-based ePortfolio implementations,” said Dr. Gail O. Mellow, president of LaGuardia. “With the support of the FIPSE grant, our Making Connections National Resource Center established a national collaboration to advance student learning across higher education.”
Over the past three years, the team met face-to-face and online to explore ideas, exchange practices and provide support for their campuses’ ePortfolio initiatives. Since the start of the program, the campus teams have worked with more than 1,200 faculty and 70,000 students.
“It has been an amazing experience,” Professor Ruth Cox from San Francisco State. “We shared stories with other institutions, commiserated about problems, and celebrated successes.”
“The Catalyst site will be an invaluable resource for higher education,” said Terrel Rhodes, vice president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. “ePortfolio projects are growing by leaps and bounds, and the Catalyst resources will help ensure that these projects effectively deepen learning for students and faculty. Colleges have been looking for something like this, and now it’s here.”
To view the site, please go to: www.c2l.mcnrc.org .
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LaGuardia Community College located in Long Island City, Queens, was founded in 1971 as a bold experiment in opening the doors of higher education to all, and we proudly carry forward that legacy today. LaGuardia educates students through over 50 degree, certificate and continuing education programs, providing an inspiring place for students to achieve their dreams. Upon graduation, LaGuardia students’ lives are transformed as family income increases 17%, and students transfer to four-year colleges at three times the national average. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), LaGuardia is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges for boundary-breaking success educating underserved students. At LaGuardia we imagine new ideas, create new curriculum and pioneer programs to make our community and our country stronger. Visit www.laguardia.edu to learn more.