Westminster College’s faculty senate announced its decision to eliminate the college-wide E-Portfolio requirement beginning Fall 2017 at the college’s faculty meeting on Dec. 2.
The elimination of the college-wide E-Portfolio requirements for the first-year competency, midpoint and final E-Portfolios allows each program or major the opportunity to choose how best to assess college-wide learning goals, according to a proposal emailed to faculty members.
“It’s very hard for the school to do something [college-wide] if it’s not incorporated into the classes of the individual curriculum,” said Steve Hurlbut, Westminster’s faculty fellow for E-Portfolios. “Every year about 150 seniors who have never really seen the E-Portfolio anywhere else get a phone call that says, ‘You have to do that or you won’t graduate,’ and that’s not really good for anyone.”
Hurlbut said he expects two thirds of programs and departments to continue using the E-Portfolio process to assess college-wide learning goals. The programs that discontinue E-portfolio use will still be required to assess college-wide learning goals through other methods for accreditation purposes and to improve course content through, according to Hurlbut.
“E-Portfolios are one way that we can emphasize and build on the college-wide learning goals, but what we’ve learned over the last five years is that we’re not a one-size-fits-all school,” Hurlbut said.
Jadie Adams, a junior math major, said she was relieved to find out that the college will now allow individual departments to opt in or out of the E-Portfolio program.
“With math, I think that graduate schools that are wanting to look at what you’ve done with math want to see what projects or research you’ve done and they would be less focused on making sure the stuff you did met all the college-wide learning goals,” Adams said. “I can just put that time toward something that will help me more in the long run than an E-Portfolio would have.”
Current seniors will still be required to complete their E-Portfolios for graduation. However, Hurlbut said only half of the college’s 30 December graduates have completed their E-Portfolio requirements so far.
“The first year competency portfolios were not enforced,” Hurlbut said. “The midpoints were not enforced. The senior one is enforced.”
Allie Nannini, a senior communication major, is one of the students graduating in December who hasn’t turned in her final E-Portfolio. Nannini said she wasn’t aware she needed to submit an E-Portfolio because she thought the communication department's portfolio class would replace the requirement.
“I literally didn’t know that was even still a thing until yesterday,” Nannini said. “I actually heard today that people were like, ‘Do we actually have to turn this in?’”
James Maloney, a senior environmental humanities major, is graduating in May and said he hasn’t started his final E-Portfolio yet either.
“I just can’t imagine it being used when I enter the job market,” Maloney said. “I don’t think it was ever really sold that well, and that’s part of the reason I was never convinced or especially motivated to do it. I remember hearing about it freshman year. It seemed more like a threat, like, ‘You have to do this to graduate’ rather than ‘Hey, here’s what it is and here’s why it’s useful.’ So I don’t think it was marketed very well.”
According to the proposal from the faculty senate, students who are unaware of the graduation requirement until their last semester seem not to benefit from the E-Portfolio.
“Even worse, in their beliefs and statements, they tend to damage the campus image of both the CWLG's and the E-Portfolio program,” the proposal continued.
For Hurlbut, that’s one of the motivations behind eliminating the college-wide E-Portfolio requirement.
“I would hate for especially seniors—because they’ve been here for four years and they’ve seen us not do this really well—I would hate to see the seniors confuse what they think of our E-Portfolio program with the value of the college-wide learning goals,” Hurlbut said. “The reason to deal with this with some urgency is because I am concerned that when students complain about the E-Portfolio program, they are having an either intentional or unintentional effect of discrediting the college-wide learning goals.”
Students who have questions about or would like assistance with their E-Portfolios can visit Hurlbut in Gore 111, the E-Portfolio help desk in the Writing Center or https://westminstercollege.edu/about/resources/e-portfolios for more information.