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E-Portfolios: Encouraging Critical Thinking and Responsible AI Use

Updated: Jul 30, 2023

As AI models like GPT-4 are making such rapid progress, I've been looking into different methods to evaluate learning success in this AI era. Why don't we try e-portfolios instead of essays or tests the next time that I teach my introductory ecology course?

What are E-portfolios?

E-portfolios are digital collections of evidence that show a student's learning and development over time. They can take many forms, including:

  • Developmental e-portfolios: used to track progress and reflect on learning throughout a course or program.

  • Assessment e-portfolios: used to show achievement of learning outcomes or competencies.

  • Showcase e-portfolios: used to showcase achievements and skills for employment or further education.

Using e-portfolios gives a more in-depth view of student learning than traditional assessments or papers. E-portfolios give students the opportunity to evaluate their learning and growth, link distinct courses and experiences, and feel a greater sense of ownership of their learning. In addition, e-portfolios can assist instructors in assessing student learning in a genuine and all-encompassing way, and offer chances for peer comments and teamwork.

E-portfolios can also be useful in addressing concerns around the overuse of AI resources by students. By requiring students to document their process and thinking throughout the project, we can better assess the extent to which students are relying on AI and how they are integrating AI into their learning. E-portfolios can also provide a platform for peer review and feedback, promoting responsible use of AI and encouraging students to think critically about the role of technology in their learning.

As an example, I am planning to introduce an e-portfolio project (instead of the typical essay) in my introductory ecology course. The project will require students to create an e-portfolio that will include a series of interconnected artifacts showing their understanding of 4-5 major ecological topics (from different major sections of the course) examined during the semester.

In their e-portfolio, students will need to include:

  • Evidence of their learning and development throughout the course, reflections on key concepts and theories, and examples of assignments and activities that show their understanding of the 4-5 major concepts.

  • Applying ecological concepts to real-world scenarios to enhance critical thinking and problem-solving.

With the growing concern around the overuse of AI resources, I believe that e-portfolios may help to promote responsible use of technology and encourage students to think critically about their learning. I encourage you to consider incorporating e-portfolios into your courses.

Never used e-portfolios? Check out the "Free Resources" section on my website for an example of an the template of an e-portfolio assignment that you can DOWNLOAD for FREE.


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