Reflection and Electronic Portfolios: Inventing the Self and Reinventing the University
By Kathleen Blake Yancey
Print and electronic portfolios historically have featured reflection as their centerpieces. By reflection, educators have typically meant both the processes in which students have engaged and one or more reflective texts. In print portfolios, these texts are often a reflective essay or a reflective letter, both of which introduce and interpret the portfolio contents to one or more readers, sometimes a teacher but also the student. As portfolios have gone electronic, reflective texts have taken myriad forms—from concept maps to written texts to streaming video. In this shift from print to electronic, the claims for reflection have widened and increased as well. Three of these claims are that (1) through reflection, students make knowledge by articulating connections among portfolio exhibits, learning, and self; (2) reflective activities introduce students to new kinds of self-assessment, often an outcomes-based self-assessment, that they carry into life outside of and beyond educational settings; and (3) through engaging in reflective activities, students develop the stance and practices of a reflective practitioner who can synthesize multiple sources of evidence and make contingent and ethical sense of them.