Learning Portfolios Across Programs

Implementing a Learning Portfolio Process across the Business  Major at CSUMB

Why Use Learning Portfolios?

Learning Portfolio Cycle

The process of developing Learning Portfolios helps learners develop deeper connections through a cycle of reflecting on their learning, connecting their reflections to evidence, and receiving and responding to feedback.

Many programs around the world are implementing Learning Portfolios with goals that include:

  • increasing the reflective thinking skills necessary for critical thinking
  • increasing student engagement and retention
  • deepening conceptual learning
  • increasing learning integration
  • increasing understanding of knowledge creation
  • increased individual awareness of self-efficacy through reflection and development of a digital identity

Proposed Portfolio Process

We can put a process into action that allows multiple types of reflection, promoting deeper learning integration, by embracing a portfolio model with space for reflection related to particular learning experiences, such as course assignments, space for reflection related to program outcomes, such as General Knowledge Outcomes  (GKO’s) and Major Learning Outcomes (MLO’s) and space for reflection related to personal digital identities, sharing personal philosophy statements and professional goals.

Using WordPress

The WordPress blog application, available free on the internet, allows one to:

  • create multiple “static” pages, ideal for summative reflections related to identity and program outcomes
  • develop  “reflection-in-action” (Cambridge, D., Cambridge, B., Yancey, K.B.,2009, p. 45)  posts, related to particular assignments or assignment elements
  • store artifacts, such as essays, reports, and presentations, that can be linked to from posts or pages as evidence of learning

The following site demonstrates an example of a potential template to begin our program use of portfolios: http://buslptemplatecsumb.wordpress.com/.

Specific Recommendations for Implementation

Identify courses that are well suited to begin integrating course work with Learning Portfolio development

Some consensus among faculty suggests that certain courses are particularly appropriate for initial integration with Learning Portfolio development:

  • First Year Seminar
  • Excel Spreadsheet (BUS 299)
  • Macro Economics with Community Service (BUS 201S)
  • Major ProSeminar (BUS 300)
  • Reading Writing Critical Thinking II (BUS 304)
  • Principles of Management (bus 305)
  • Principles of Marketing (BUS 306)
  • Finance (BUS 307)
  • Operations Management (BUS 309)
  • Entrepreneurship (BUS 310)
  • Capstone (BUS 499)
  • Internship Experience (BUS 498)

Identify Opportunities to Bridge Course Content Through Reflection

Wherever possible we should promote development of reflective assignments helping learners make connections between specific work completed in prior learning experiences, and specific work addressed in a current experience. A relevant podcast in which faculty in the Lebow College of Business at Drexel University share some of their initial experiences assigning such “bridging” reflections can be viewed at this site: http://www.lebow.drexel.edu/video/podcasts/center-teaching-excellence/my-lifefolioeffective-use-student-learning-portfolios-lebo.

Provide Support for Faculty

Reflection is the key value component of a Learning Portfolio. Through reflection, learners develop deeper understanding of concepts their learning, learn more about how knowledge is created, and develop better reflective judgement skills for critical thinking.  However, people need to learn to reflect through practice. One way to promote this is through well designed prompts and timely feedback.  Researchers find that reflection is most effective when frequently and unobtrusively integrated into coursework (Cambridge, D., Cambridge, B., Yancey, K.B.,2009, p. 45). Faculty may need support to begin integrating frequent opportunities for reflective thinking in their courses.

Potential Reflection Assignments Related to the Learning Portfolio

  • Forum discussions can provide opportunities for learners to share reflections related to concepts and receive feedback
  • Reflective assignments related to completion of key projects can stimulate deeper conceptual knowledge, deeper understanding of how one “creates knowledge” and connections beyond a project to potential future applications of concepts. Such  assignments can be delivered in the body of a Learning Portfolio, using a post for the reflection, with course work attached as evidence. Some useful prompts include:
    • develop a self-assessment of your work, based on a rubric or other criteria
    • prompts asking for details about how decisions were made related to applying specific concepts
    • develop a graphical representation of relationships between concepts or processes related to a topic
    • what was the most challenging aspect of this project and why?
    • what was easy for you and why?
    • if there aspects of this work that you need to understand better, what are they and what could you do to deepen your understanding?
    • imagine some ways you could apply something learned from this work to a context outside this course
    • describe a learning experience prior to this project that helped prepare you to handle this project
  • Reflection Assignments related to the GKO’s and MLO’s as relevant to a particular course. These assignments could ask for learner self-assessment on appropriate pages of a Learning Portfolio dedicated to particular outcomes. The assignment could require reference to particular work completed, along with analysis of how the work shows evidence of particular outcomes. Relevant rubrics or other criteria could also be employed.
  • Reflection Assignments related to developing a professional and/or personal digital identity could be given in many contexts. Some courses that suggest that opportunity include:
    • those in which one might begin a Learning Portfolio, such as First Year Seminar, or Excel Spreadsheet
    • those in which one explores future connections with coursework, such as Internship and Capstone
    • those in which one exercises community responsibility, such as Service Learning
    • those in which one deepens core expertise, toward concentrations, such as upper division electives
  • Further ideas for integrating Learning Portfolio reflections into coursework can be found on another page of this site.

Provide Support for Learners

Evidence shows that programs that are using Learning Portfolios most successfully are finding ways to integrate portfolio development into course curriculum, and are providing the time and support learners need for development (Cambridge, D., Cambridge, B., Yancey, K.B.,2009, p. 45) . Time relates to creating reflective assignments that are integral to the course, not “added on” with little importance to the relevant faculty. Support relates to faculty interest in portfolio development, but also to support for technical issues.  We should provide lab hours with trained assistants to help with portfolio development as needed.


Barrett, H. (2013). electronicportfolios.org [website]. retrieved from: http://electronicportfolios.org/

Cambridge, D., Cambridge, B., Yancey, K.B., (Eds.). (2009). Electronic Portfolios 2.0: Emergent Research on Implementation and Impact. Sterling: Stylus Publishing, LLC.


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