Thoughts on “Fostering Integrative Knowledge through ePortfolios”

Thoughts on “Fostering Integrative Knowledge through ePortfolios”

Melissa Peet, Steven Lonn, Patricia Gurin, K. Page Boyer

Malinda Matney, Tiffany Marra, Simone Himbeault Taylor, and Andrea Daley

University of Michigan

This article presents the results of a study of 620 students who used pre / post surveys to assess integrative learning they acquired as a result of completing core activities designed to foster integrative learning as part of the UM’s IKPP (Integrative Knowledge Portfolio Project). Results indicated that statistically significant acquisition of integrative learning skills / habits were made by all participants regardless of age, race, gender, year in school, or location (city / suburban campus). Interstingly, Humanities & Natural Sciences began with less knowledge than Social Sciences so both showed more improvement from pre to post survey with Humanities gaining the most in becoming a relfexive, accountable, and relational learner. Natural Sciences gained the most in demonstrating knowledge gined within and across specific contexts. Social Sciences knew more from the get go so they didn’t show as much improvement at the end. The point was to test how valid the 6 dimensions of integrative learning their portfolio project was designed to improve actually are. In other words the study was not a theoretical approach to the issue but a practical one—in the Appendix they offer the surveys and within the article they define the 6 dimensions in detail as well as the core activities designed to practice each. There’s an example of a student’s “evidence of work” section in the portfolio as well as links to examples of Integrative Portfolios:

         Examples of Integrative Knowledge Portfolios can be seen at http://tinyurl.com/integrate2,                     

          https://umich.digication.com/portfolio/directory.digi or http://mportfolio.umich.edu/showcase.html

Also, there is a note indicating that this study was just the first step in a larger one:

       Note: As of May 2011, institutions that are in the process of adopting IKPP include: Boston University*, Clemson  

       University*, DePaul University*, Norwalk Community College, Long Island University, and Mercy College, NYC*,

       Oberlin College* and Portland State University*. Institutions with an * are collaborating with the University of 

       Michigan on a 3- year FIPSE grant (Fund for Improvement in Post- Secondary Education) from the U.S. 

       Department of Education.

This article gives much to think about as it separates the “eportfolio” from the processes and habits of mind necessary to produce one (one that has meaning, value, etc. to the learner). An Integrative Knowledge Portfolio Process implies a curricular level approach—one that aligns well with the goals of Composition and has broader implications for fostering student success across disciplines and throughout college. Many of this study’s participants only encountered the Integrative Learning Core Activities in a single class. The fact that even they show marked improvement in the 6 areas is a striking bit of data!

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