Teaching Composition with ePortfolios

Early Summer EKU 2017 148Audience awareness, information literacy, and genre flexibility are vital for students’ academic, workplace, and personal success. At our university, ENG102 (the second-semester segment of the first-year composition sequence) helps develop these skills. Traditionally, ENG102 includes a semester-long project involving library research and an MLA-style paper. While this model successfully introduces students to principles of information literacy (including source evaluation and synthesis), we find it limiting in regards to student-to-student interaction, audience awareness, and genre flexibility.

In Spring 2018, we taught an alternative model for ENG102 with increased library instruction, blogs, drafting several texts from multiple views, and integration of all parts into an ePortfolio.

Following this model, students interact regularly in person and online by posting research and responding to peer’s posts and drafts. Students experiment with multiple genres: photography, video, podcasting, and web text. Drafting, feedback, and revision continue all semester, culminating in polished ePortfolios. We support students’ experimentation through a grade contract, which allows students to determine their own successes and learn from their failings. The contract helps students focus on their writing, not fixate on scores. The E-portfolio and contract enables them to take real composing risks and to own their projects.

We plan to continue using this approach in ENG102 and extend the use of ePortfolios and grade contracts into our other courses.

We invite you to browse through our assignment prompts, handouts, videos, and other resources, which we’ve made available here. As we continue to develop our use of ePortfolios in first-year composition and other courses, we’ll share those materials here as well. Unless otherwise indicated, the materials we’ve shared here are posted under a Creative Commons BY-NC license and are free to use and modify.