Portfolios are a great way for students to show the map of their intellectual growth in a degree program or even an individual class. An increasing number of accrediting bodies are turning to portfolios as a way for institutions to show that students actually learned what was set out in degree program competencies or objectives. Portfolios are powerful learning tools because they combine active reflection by the student, competency tracking over the course of a program, and display of evidence (files, links, projects) that show that the student really did learn what they claim to have learned.
Over the past year, a team in the CTL has been working with a number of programs at the School to develop a portfolio tool for CoursePlus. This new portfolio tool will be used by the incoming, full-time MPH cohort as well as the majority of incoming students in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology this year. A number of other programs at the School have expressed interest in using portfolios for their students and we expect usage to grow significantly over the next few years.
The portfolio is organized around touchpoints. Touchpoints are established by program administrators and are targeted towards specific events in the program. Touchpoints are made up of three key components: reflections, which allow students to reflect in writing about a specific event or milestone in the program; competencies, which show what specific skills a student can now demonstrate based on the activities the student discusses in their reflection; and evidence, which are files, links, or other documents which concretely demonstrate that the student achieved the competencies they say that they have achieved. Some touchpoints are designated as requiring review by advisors. When work is complete on such a touchpoint, advisors will then review student work and offer commentary and feedback. Students can add their own touchpoints to a portfolio, covering significant personal events in the program, such as an internship or activity not covered in a touchpoint created by program administrators.
As the portfolio places heavy emphasis on the achievement of specific program competencies, students have two ways of looking at which competencies they have achieved at any point in the program. The timeline view lets students page though all touchpoints in a portfolio and see what specific competencies were achieved (and at what specific level) at that point in time, along with the reflections and evidence for a particular touchpoint. The dashboard view shows a student all competencies in the program and the most current level that the student has selected for those competencies.
The Evidence Library is where students can store files or weblinks that are provided as evidence towards the achievement of specific competencies in their reflections. There are tools throughout CoursePlus that make it easy to send files from a Drop Box, wiki page, discussion forum post, or peer evaluation result to a portfolio.
Finally, students have the option to create publishing views for anyone in the world to see. Publishing views are targeted towards future employers, giving them an opportunity to see an officially–branded JHSPH page which lists the skills a student gained while in a program and the evidence which shows that the student can actually perform those skills. Students have full control over publishing views. Students decide what goes on each view, and students decide who can see each view. Students will have access to their portfolio and the publishing views therein for five years after graduation.
If you are interested in using a portfolio for your degree program, please contact Sukon Kanchanaraska, Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning.
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