How e-Portfolios Can Empower Students in Higher Education

A key, yet often underrated, benefit of digital learning is that it creates a permanent digital record of student work. In addition to online discussion contributions, students effectively create an e-portfolio of completed assignments. Not only does this e-portfolio provide teachers and institutions with authentic assessment of student learning and students with the ability to provide feedback to one another, it also creates a much more direct avenue for students to reflect upon and assess their own work. When e-portfolios are used in conjunction with compulsory self-assessment, they promote the deep learning that embodies transformative education.

The most meaningful use of e-portfolios transcends institutional record keeping, allowing students to engage metacognitive processes. As students reflect upon their own work, they develop self-assessment skills, become aware of their own academic identities, and chart their own academic pathways. Most students don’t realize their own responsibility for their learning. E-portfolios make students aware of their responsibility by providing them with the skills to be responsible for their learning through reflection on a body of completed work, rather than individual assignments.

It should be noted, however, that few students engage in this metacognitive reflection without prompting. So, e-portfolios are most beneficial when an institution regularly embeds this reflective practice within end of semester learning activities. This could manifest as a single paragraph reflection on the e-portfolio or even a portfolio presentation for upper level students. If your institution is already using e-portfolios, as many are, consider engaging students to reflect upon their contents if you aren't already.


Miller, R. and Morgaine, W., (2009). The Benefits of E-Portfolios for Students and Faculty in Their Own Words. Association of American Colleges and Universities.

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