WHAT WE LEARNED DURING THE FIRST YEAR OF THE C2L PROJECT
- Capstone student survey results support the value of ePortfolios for students. Seven capstone courses in programs that use ePortfolio as both a learning and assessment tool and a showcase tool administered the survey over three semesters. Cumulative results (n=79) indicate that students have an understanding of integrative learning as related to both courses in their program and real-world experiences. Ninety-nine percent agreed or strongly agreed that they “understand how classes relate to their major.” Ninety-five percent agreed or strongly agreed that they “understand how classes fit together.” Ninety-six percent of students agreed or strongly agreed that they “use accumulated knowledge in current coursework.” Ninety-seven percent “see meaningful connections between coursework and real-world experiences.”
- Additionally, 83% of capstone students surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that “ePortfolio will be a valuable tool for transfer/job opportunities” and 86% agreed or strongly agreed that “ePortfolio is a good way to showcase achievements/growth.”
- From the beginning of implementation into developmental English, we saw an increase and student success for ePortfolio sections as compared to non-ePortfolio sections. Additionally, the cumulative retention rate from Fall 2010 to Spring 2011 for students enrolled in developmental English (ENG*065, ENG*075, ENG*093) courses was 78.1% in ePortfolio sections as compared to 72.3% in non-ePortfolio sections.
- The Office of Institutional Research also examined the retention rates of students college-wide. Retention rates from the spring 2010 to fall 2010 semesters were calculated based on the number of ePortfolio courses a student was enrolled in during the spring 2010 semester. Students enrolled in no ePortfolio courses had a spring to fall retention rate of 52.7%. Students in one ePortfolio course had a retention rate of 60.9%. Students in two ePortfolio courses had a retention rate of 66.2%. Students in three ePortfolio courses had a retention rate of 71.4%, and students in four ePortfolio courses had a retention rate of 66.7%.
WHAT WE LEARNED DURING THE SECOND YEAR OF THE C2L PROJECT
- The number of faculty using ePortfolio was higher than expected. We were unable to grow the project last year due to many restrictions, so we are satisfied that we were able to maintain what we had. Most comments and feedback are extremely positive, which coincide with the quantitative results. We have been aware of the difficulties in expanding the project, and the survey results gave us some more information on what the current issues are.
- The success of the outcomes data is consistent with the previous year’s work. The capstone experience is able to consistently guide students to understand and demonstrate their program and general education abilities through the use of ePortfolio. ePortfolio gives students the opportunity to bring this work together in order to see meaningful connections between courses and experiences during their time at the college.
- Regarding success and retention rates, we did not see a difference between the developmental English courses that used ePortfolio with the ones that did not, as we had in the past. However, we did note a significant difference in fall to fall retention rates of the developmental English classes between ePortfolio versus non-ePortfolio sections. An even more significant difference was noted between the linked section of developmental English and First Year Experience, with 86% of the students continuing at Tunxis Community College a year later. This data shows that the combination of the learning community and ePortfolio assist in helping students persist and feel part of the community college.
- For the transitional year, we agreed to focus on the C2L Core Survey for our main data from the college. With many changes occurring at the college, we thought it best to simplify the number of surveys instructors gave to students. When we meet to plan for the 2013-2014 academic year, we will discuss additional ways to track the project. We can continue to college retention and success rates for ePortfolio courses and will survey instructors more carefully in order to have a greater selection sample.
WHAT WE LEARNED DURING THE THIRD YEAR OF THE C2L PROJECT
- Regarding the CORE survey results—The number of responses in the spring semester was significantly smaller than in the fall semester. However, there are drastic improvements in the responses. The survey in the spring seemed to be limited to the capstone courses and C2L team members’ courses. Within those courses, ePortfolio is integrated well into the curriculum, so students are able to understand the areas addressed in the questions. The fall sample covered a greater variety of courses and students at different periods in their education. The open-ended responses coincide with the numbers. Students who are introduced to ePortfolio at a basic level early on do not see the value in using it. As they move through repeated exposure and finally complete their ePortfolio in capstone, they understand how ePortfolio allows them to integrate their experience and showcase their work for future use. This is obviously the progression we want to see from students, but, as noted from the previous year, we do need to improve how ePortfolio is presented to students early on so they see value sooner.
SOME AREAS WE NEED TO WORK ON
- Based on the CORE survey, students are still unclear how ePortfolio helps them understand and create connections between coursework and experiences. We are working on improving instruction and reflection assignments in the capstone and practicum classes for Business Administration. By improving the way students create and are assessed on their ePortfolios, we hope that they better understand how their ePortfolios put the pieces of the education puzzle together.
- The Core Survey results are quite different from the capstone results. The students who completed the Core Survey were from a variety of course levels, from developmental to capstone. The capstone survey results were mostly positive, whereas the core survey results varied in comparison. We assume that since a great number of first-semester students respond to this survey that they do not have as great an understanding as the experienced student. This is an area we need to improve as we move forward.
- The most frequent negative comments were about a student’s weaknesses with technology. We need to find ways to improve our technology support so that students can become more comfortable with using the technology.
- As expected, there are some students who do not see the value in ePortfolio and only view it as a computer class activity. As a college, we need to be better explain how using ePortfolio can in fact help make connections within the course or why the tool has an advantage over other methods.
- The data and student comments consistently shows that we need to improve our professional development activities with our gateway courses. We would like to see faculty embrace the pedagogical philosophy of IRI, so that students have a more consistent experience and understand the benefits of using ePortfolio.
SCALING UP: WHERE WE GO NEXT
- As we transitioned to new leadership in Fall 2012, we did not have the time to address the issues noted in our faculty survey. We will organize faculty development around the issues of technology usage and reflection, as well as present our work on how ePortfolio can be effective. We’re finding that ePortfolio needs to shift to a student-emphasized rather than faculty-emphasized project. As a result, the leadership team will begin to find ways to make that shift.
- The data coincides with what we know about the project currently. We are doing really well in some areas and have weaknesses in other areas. The samples that we gathered from 2012-2013 show that ePortfolio can have a positive effect on a students’ experience in courses and programs. The data, alongside student presentations, should help bring on new faculty into the project.