Are your students curating project portfolios?

Louise K at Summit

The National Convergence Technology Center’s (CTC) Business and Industry Leadership Team (“BILT”) has long insisted when job candidates sit down for an interview, those who have a portfolio of their work stand a better chance of getting hired.  For that reason, the BILT asks that every IT program require students to create and maintain portfolios of their class projects.  This question of a student portfolio’s value is one of the National CTC’s grant goals and will be explored further during the Spring 2019 term.  The plan is for a handful of select CTC partner schools to add portfolio requirements to specific classes.  Those students with portfolios will then be measured against students without portfolios to see if portfolios indeed get graduates hired quicker.

The National CTC recently convened a special two-day “CCN Summit” meeting for 30 educators from its CCN (Convergence College Network) community of practice.  One of the main topics was student portfolios.  That presentation was led by Louise Kowalski from SUNY Erie Community College, a leader in teaching students online branding strategies that include curating digital portfolios online.  Louise notes that portfolios not only provide a useful collection of student work that can be easily updated anywhere anytime, but they also help faculty assessments by illustrating that course outcomes were met.

Here are a few more of her best practices:

  • Be sure students know the benefits of an e-portfolio.
  • Make portfolios a program-wide (or institution-wide) initiative. 
  • Begin the portfolio development with students in the first semester.
  • Make portfolios gradable.  It’s the best way to make sure the students actually do the work.
  • Keep portfolios simple and easy to find.
  • The portfolios should only showcase the student’s best work.
  • The easiest platform for portfolios is Google Drive.
  •  Ask faculty in other classes to make part of their grade contingent on saving relevant coursework to their portfolio.
  • Make the portfolio a requirement for internships.

At the summit meeting, Louise also presented some employer survey results. It was a small sample size, but the responses do point to the value of portfolios.

  • When asked “What should be included in the portfolio?” 90% of surveyed employers answered “resume” and 50% answered “samples of student work.”
  • 50% of surveyed employers said they would be “more willing to hire” a student who had a portfolio.
  • 60% of surveyed employers prefer an online portfolio.  The other 40% reported no preference between online and a hard copy.

If you’d like more information about Louise Kowalski’s presentation or see some of her portfolio-related classroom exercises, please email us at nationalCTC@collin.edu.

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