Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Going Public with E-portfolios: Opening Up Communication and Composition in a Digital Environment that Speaks to the Net Generation


Writing Department


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Arts and Humanities


Every semester, 29 composition professors in Grand Valley State University's (GVSU) Writing Department collect over 1,700 portfolios from students enrolled in WRT 150, Strategies in Writing, a general education course. Each portfolio, 15-20 pages, is distributed by faculty, graded, and redistributed for third reads if necessary, resulting in the circulation of about 35,000 sheets of paper each semester. To ease the paper load and improve the portfolio process, the department developed a custom web application using an open-source platform referred to as the Digital Portfolio Management System (DPMS). The DPMS was created in the summer of 2012 and piloted during fall 2012 and winter 2013 semesters. The system, built to disseminate portfolios through the grading process, is coupled with a kind of drop box system referred to as the Drafts Folder that is connected to portfolio grading groups that allows professors to electronically respond to student work throughout the semester. Originally designed to introduce efficiencies, the DPMS transformed not only the process of assessing student portfolios but teacher pedagogy as well. Portfolios have characteristically been paper-based. English departments and writing programs have been employing portfolios for more than 25 years and using e-portfolios since the mid-1990s. E-portfolios fundamentally change how students learn, how faculty members teach, and how universities assess the value of their education (Batson, 2002; Blake Yancey, 2009; Lucas, 1992). Clark and Eynon (2009) claim the growth of e-portfolio use is directly related to its elasticity, to the diversity of purposes for which it can be used, including enriched learning and improved career development, transfer, and assessment. As the use of digital technologies increases in universities, interest in e-portfolio technology is rising in the field. This panel will explore the changes happening in portfolio pedagogy as assessment groups move from traditional paper portfolios to an e-portfolio system. GVSU's team grading method relies on open public standards, and although the move to an electronic end-of-term threatened to make the grading process more private, it actually made it more public. Ultimately, the presentation will highlight the possibilities and vulnerabilities teachers, composition programs, and departments encounter as they open themselves up to new digital technologies such as e-portfolio systems. The creation of e-portfolio systems, such as GVSU's, are rapidly changing the digital landscape of writing instruction.

Conference Name

Conference on College Composition and Communication

Conference Location

Indianapolis, IN

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