Skip to main content

Cornell University


Places to go next

Measuring Student Learning
Using Rubrics

Need help with technology?
(607) 255-7224

What are ePortfolios?
Why use ePortfolios?
How can you get started with integrating ePortfolios?
How can you introduce ePortfolios?
What are some ePortfolio learning activities?
How can you assess ePortfolios?
What can be done with the final products?

What are ePortfolios?

ePortfolios are similar to regular portfolios. An ePortfolio is a collection of materials that documents student accomplishments, and may include reflections on the learning process and its outcomes.

Since ePortfolios are electronic, they have additional qualities such as:

  • Requiring students to organize their thoughts and materials using an electronic interface similar to a personal web page.
  • Allowing for the presentation and interlinking of various media types.
  • Being shared easily and continuously edited.

Why use ePortfolios?

The learning purposes of ePortfolios include:

  • Reflecting upon learning processes and outcomes.
  • Organizing and presenting learning accomplishments.
  • Developing self-assessment skills.
  • Representing learning experiences.
  • Developing multimedia skills.
  • Creating electronic text for specific audiences.
  • Learning how to use technology to support lifelong learning.

The learning benefits of ePortfolios include:

  • Personalizing the learning experience.
  • Allowing students to draw connections between their various learning experiences over the semester and beyond.
  • Seeing progress over time.
  • Enhancing critical thinking.
  • Evaluating and assessing student products and processes.
  • Assessing course learning outcomes.
  • Gaining insight into how students experienced a curriculum.

How can you get started with integrating ePortfolios?

  • Have a clear learning purpose for using an ePortfolio and share this with students.
  • Develop ePortfolio learning activities to use throughout the semester.
  • Develop a clear rubric or set of guidelines that will be used to guide and assess student learning.
  • The learning purpose of the ePortfolio will determine how it is constructed. Before implementing ePortfolios, consider the following (adapted from Butler, 2006):
  • Who decides what items will be included in the selection and presentation of the ePortfolio, and what are the guidelines?
  • How should the ePortfolio be organized?
  • What are acceptable or unacceptable pieces for the ePortfolio?
  • Will there be opportunities for collaboration? What about feedback from you, peers, or others throughout the development of the portfolio?
  • How will the ePortfolio be assessed?
  • What will happen to the ePortfolio once it is completed?

How do you introduce ePortfolios?

  • Explain to the students the intended learning outcomes for the project.
  • Tie the skills that students will develop in the process of creating an ePortfolio to their personal, academic, and professional development.
  • Share how students may be able to continue to develop their ePortfolios beyond the course.
  • Include a clear description of the ePortfolio assignment in your syllabus.
  • Explain how you will evaluate the ePortflio and share the rubric or guidelines.

What are some ePortfolio learning activities?

Guided Reflective Thinking

Students do not necessarily come to class with the ability to reflect or are aware of their own reflections. Consider prompting students with guided reflection at the beginning, middle, and end of the semester. Here are some examples from Penny Light, Chen & Ittelson (2012, p.56):

  • Beginning of the semester: What is reflection? What is action? What do you think we will do to learn about reflection and action in this course?
  • Middle of the semester: Considering our course readings, and learning activities thus far, have your ideas on reflection and action changed? If so, how and why have they changed? If not, why do you think that is?
  • End of the semester: What were the most important things you learned about reflection and action this semester? What learning activities such as discussions and class readings were most significant to you and why?

Analyze samples of previous coursework or previous student ePortfolios

  • Provide students with a rubric that you will use to evaluate the portfolios.
  • Have students review the assignments and materials that students in previous semesters included, and ask them to evaluate whether or not they would make good contributions.
  • Showcase previous ePortfolios and have students use the rubric to evaluate what was done well, and what could have been done differently.
  • Remember to ask current students if you can share their ePortfolios anonymously with future students.

Peer review of ePortfolio drafts

  • Consider having multiple due dates for an organization plan, first draft, second draft, and final draft.
  • Organize peer review sessions for each step in the process.
  • Divide students into pairs or small groups to review ePortfolios.
  • Consider allowing students to produce the first drafts on paper or as written reflections pieces, and make only the final product electronic.
  • Provide enough time between the last feedback session and the final due date for students to make adjustments.

How can you assess ePortfolios?

What can be done with the final products?

  • Students can continue to develop them for their professional careers.
  • They can be displayed in a common space on campus.
  • They can be posted on a class website so students can view each other’s portfolios.
  • They can be shared, with students’ approval, on your course website, or with future classes.


Visit Academic Technologies ePortfolio page.

Past CTI Presentation Materials

  • Student Learning and ePortfolios pdf
    Darren Cambridge, Assistant Professor of Internet Studies and Information Literacy at George Mason University & Associate Director of the Inter/National Coalition for Electronic Portfolio Research


Acosta, T., & Liu, Y. (2006). ePortfolios: Beyond assessment. In A. Jafari & C. Kaufman (Eds.), Handbook of research on ePortfolios (pp. 15-23). Hershey, PA: Idea Group Reference.

Butler, P. (2006). A Review Of The Literature On Portfolios And Electronic Portfolios eCDF ePortfolio Project Massey University College of Education Palmerston North, New Zealand. Retrieved from:

Ehrmann, S. C. (2006). Electronic portfolio initiatives: A flashlight guide to planning and formative evaluation. In A. Jafari & C. Kaufman (Eds.), Handbook of research on ePortfolios (pp. 180-193). Hershey, PA: Idea Group Reference.

Lorenzo, G., & Ittleson, J. (2005a). An overview of ePortfolios. Retrieved from

Lorenzo, G., & Ittleson, J. (2005b). Demonstrating and assessing student learning with eportfolios. Retrieved from

Penny Light, T., Chen, H. L., & Ittelson, J. C. (2012). Documenting learning with ePortfolios: A guide for college instructors. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Zeichner, K., & Wray, S. (2001). The teaching portfolio in US teacher education programs: What we know and what we need to know. Teaching and Teacher Education, 17(5), 613-621.
  Cornell University