The Writing Initiative team uses student portfolios to assess overall writing, the use of critical thinking and the use of information literacy in assignments. Writing Intensive students have been using an electronic portfolio product called eFolio.
Using a randomized selection of at least 10% of the student artifacts submitted to portfolios across all sections, the team evaluates assignments using the WI rubrics for writing, critical thinking and information literacy that are used in the WI course sections.
The rubrics for writing and critical thinking were aligned with the scoring methodology used for our College Writing Exam so that we could make some longitudinal comparisons with data on that exam that goes back well before the Initiative.
The information literacy rubric and scoring adheres to the methodology that has been used for a number of years prior to the grant to analyze IL in the College Experience classes.
Some instructors who find limited success having student use the electronic portfolios have been allowed to submit paper or electronic copies of student writing for analysis.
The percentage of WI students who upload at least one assignment to their portfolios each semester had consistently been about one-third, which was less than anticipated. However, during the Spring 2011 semester, portfolio use rose to 48%, nearly a 50% increase. There is certainly improved buy-in by faculty and students that has occurred as the Initiative progresses. Portfolios – and the Initiative as a whole – are a growing part of the institutional culture.
Students have access to eFolio tutorials and support documentation via LibGuides. Use of the online video tutorials, recorded with Echo360 lecture capture technology, has increased over 200% from 2010 to 2011. In-class eFolio sessions are conducted as needed, and students with eFolio questions can drop in or schedule an appointment with the Technology Resource Specialist.
The Writing Initiative has played a very important role in making the case for portfolios as a means of campus-wide assessment. Last year, the Vice-President of Academic Affairs outlined a five-year, three-phase plan to adopt portfolios for assessment in several academic programs. The Education/Early Childhood Education department has systematically adopted department-wide use of portfolios. Portfolios are also being piloted in a small sample of Composition I and ESL classes.