Sowers, K. L., & Meyers, S. (2021). Integrating essential learning outcomes and electronic portfolios: Recommendations for assessment of student growth, course objectives, program outcomes, and accreditation standards. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2021(166), 43–57. https://doi.org/10.1002/tl.20451
Stockton University is a mid-size liberal arts institution in Southern New Jersey. Degree seekers must complete required course work in both liberal studies and core, specialized areas, such as business, health sciences, hospitality, education, social and behavioral sciences, or organizational leadership. Stockton emphasizes Essential Learning Outcomes (ELOs) in undergraduate programs, aligning them to course goals and program outcomes. Faculty implement ELOs in many courses, across disciplines, providing students with opportunities to generalize ELOs in different contexts, in meaningful and relevant ways. Electronic portfolios (ePortfolios) are used to give students opportunities to develop their own personal profiles and expand their goal setting practices, by choosing artifacts that most represent who they are as learners and who they will be as future employees. Students enrolled in the courses included in this case study were encouraged to maintain an electronic portfolio that facilitates skill acquisition of reflective thought, self-assessment, authentic learning, self-determination, critical thinking and problem solving in preparation to successfully participate in a 21st century global world. Together with ELOs, ePortfolios give students a means of promoting their value to a future employer. This paper explores multiple case studies through courses that have integrated ELOs and ePortfolios for the purpose of assessing student growth, course objectives, program outcomes, or accreditation assessment. The case studies highlight the use of ELOs merged with ePortfolios for: first-year students and their involvement in campus and course activities to assess personal and academic growth; first-year students and the development of their research and information literacy skills to assess academic growth and course objectives; upper level undergraduate students and reflective assessment of student growth and course outcomes; and graduate students and reflective assessment of student growth and evidence for documenting accreditation standards. Examples of how ELOs and ePortfolios can be merged for different disciplines, and different student levels, are explored in detail. Suggestions for additional opportunities to embed ELOs into ePortfolios are discussed and provided for faculty who are interested in the utilization of these merged concepts for the assessment of student growth, course objectives, program outcomes and accreditation standards.