E-Portfolios: A Viable Capstone Activity for Graduate Programs
Moisey, Susan D.
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Abstract A pilot study was conducted to explore the use of e-portfolios as an alternative to the standard written and oral comprehensive examination process used in the Master of Distance Education (MDE)program at Athabasca University, as well as the initial stages of the subsequent program-wide implementation. Students in the final year of the MDE program were invited to participate in the pilot study; ultimately six students completed their program using the e-portfolio alternative. A competency-based approach was used where students reflected on their skills and knowledge in selected areas and included artifacts as evidence of their learning. Artifacts included course assignments, web sites, instructional materials, learning objects, postings in CMC discussions, and other formal, informal, and work-based experiences and products. Me2U social software was used as the platform. Once their e-portfolios were complete, students engaged in a discussion with two faculty members to examine the studentâ€™s growth in skills and knowledge as well as their ability to engage in reflective practice. All aspects of the pilot study were conducted online. Responses from students and faculty participating in the pilot study were highly positive resulting in the e-portfolio alternative being offered on a program-wide basis. Currently, students at various points in the MDE program are opting to use e-portfolios. As a capstone activity for the MDE program, the e-portfolio has proven to be a reasonable alternative, and potentially an improvement, to the current competency examination process with e-portfolios being cited as a more valid and meaningful assessment of student learning.