Connections to Other Sectors of The Catalyst

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Pedagogy

(link to our social pedagogy practice)

Integrative social pedagogy is core to the kind of changes we are working toward in our core curriculum revision. We see professional development efforts are fundamental to our strategy for promoting integrative social pedagogy on our campus. In our TLCs, we have approached the use of ePortfolio as pedagogy. Folio-thinking and social pedagogies are at the forefront of our discussions. More generally, our Center for teaching and Learning is looking to support on-going conversations about pedagogy. Conversations around curriculum and pedagogy are changing and this is being supported by activities in the Center for Teaching and Learning.

The ePortfolio Leadership Team has undertaken a research project to examine how ePortfolio and its use can lead to more constructivist teaching styles. The four faculty members have each experienced significant changes in our own pedagogy as a result of being involved in the Making Connections and Connect to Learning grants. In our research, we have examined the use of communities of practice and how these communities are essential to lasting transformation. We have developed a framework that has helped us to inquire more deeply about our own professional development practices on campus, and we have established that we need to think more carefully and creatively about attracting faculty to the “edge” of our communities of practice (TLCs).

Professional Development

(link to our Professional Development Story)

Professional Development has been essential and fundamental to our scaling up of ePortfolio on our campus. In fact, we now find ourselves scaling up our PD practices in order to support the scaling up of ePortfolio on our campus. What began with a basic Teaching and Learning Circle introducing faculty to ePortfolio technology and pedagogy, we have now adapted our basic TLC and developed new TLCs.

Our basic TLC was adapted by adding eTerns as support co-team leaders and asking them to serve as a connector between the TLC participant and the CTL, providing assistance as they proceeded through the TLC. We have also grown the TLC leadership. We have now asked three previous TLC participants who have implemented ePortfolio to serve as TLC leaders. We have also developed new TLCs. In Fall 2013, we will run a TLC developed specifically to support the use of ePortfolio for the tenure and promotion process. We want to support these faculty but we also see an opportunity. If these faculty successfully use ePortfolio for their own purposes and see the benefits, perhaps they will also look toward implementing ePortfolio in their classes. We will also be running an Advising TLC in the Spring. This will explore the use of ePortfolio as an advising tool.

One decision that has been critical to us is to open our PD to faculty (full-time and adjunct), staff and administration. By doing so, we believe we are building an ePortfolio culture that encourages communication and collaboration among different parts of the campus.

 

Evidence

In order to assess the effectiveness of ePortfolio, we have done a number of things. Direct measures, such as student and faculty users surveys, have been developed. These are important to measure the satisfaction of the user experience as well as the extent to which the users see ePortfolio to be a valuable component of their teaching practices and learning experiences. These surveys have included items from the NSSE survey, which our school has used in the past allowing us to compare responses from students in ePortfolio classes to the sample at Manhattanville College at large (see below). Additionally, we have looked at GPA and retention data. We have examined whether there is a difference in GPA in students participating in ePortfolio classes compared to comparable sections of courses not using ePortfolio.

When looking specifically at the FYP, we have seen higher GPAs in those sections using ePortfolio. For Spring 2011, when comparing final cumulative GPAs, the average GPA for non-ePortfolio sections was 3.019 compared to 3.1375 for those students in the ePortfolio sections of FYP. Using the same analysis for Fall 2011, the average cumulative GPA for ePortfolio FYP sections was 3.097 compared to 2.771 for comparison non-ePortfolio sections. We have looked at retention as well, however, our sample sizes are small. We have found, for example, that we have higher retention rates in an Introduction to Psychology section using ePortfolio compared to other sections not using ePortfolio. Of course, other variables, such as instructor, are likely to be affecting these outcomes as well. Gathering data for this kind of analysis has been more than difficult. We are relying on an overworked and understaffed Registrar’s Office to crunch these numbers for us.

To what extent has your experience in this course….. % responding Quite a bit or Very much
Portfolio sections
(n=133)
Comparable NSSE data (national)Comparable NSSE data (Manhattanville 2011)
Emphasized synthesizing and organizing ideas, information, or experiences in new ways? 91.7% 64.1% 78%
Emphasized applying theories or concepts to practical problems or in new situations? 88.7% 63.5% 75.5%
Emphasized knowledge, skills, and personal development in writing clearly and effectively? 84.2% 65.5% 82.5%
Contributed to their knowledge, skills, and personal development in understanding oneself? 78.19% 58.5% 69.5%
Contributed to their knowledge, skills, and personal development in working effectively with others? 83.4% 64.7% 71.5%
Technology

(link to Technology Story)

The choice of ePortfolio platform was very important to the success of our implementation and scale-up processes. We brought 5 vendors to campus for demonstrations and surveyed faculty and staff following the vendor presentations. We had previously determined criteria that were most important for our campus needs, specifically, ease of use, focus on portfolio creation, and assessment capabilities. Around this time, New York State Education Department required the use of ePortfolios for teacher certification, so we were working closely with our School of Education. Since then, the NYSED has contracted Pearson and has developed their own ePortfolio platform and submission system. The result of this is two ePortfolio platforms at work on our campus. While we had originally expected a lot of use from our faculty and students in the School of Education, this has not come to fruition due to confusion around multiple platforms and heavy reliance on adjuncts and field supervisors.

In general, we are very happy with our choice of platform. As promised, it is very user-friendly and supports the pedagogy of reflection and integration well. We are looking forward to additional ways for the platform to support social pedagogies. Despite the platform, adoption of ePortfolio as a teaching tool by faculty on campus has been slower than anticipated. We have had quite high participation rates in our TLCs, however, the adoption rate is significantly lower. This challenge has led us to revise our TLC structure and this year, we are offering a year-long TLC with a monetary incentive to be paid on implementation.

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