Professional Development Practice: ePortfolio Teaching Circles

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The goals for the three sessions are to:

  • Introduce participants to all of the capacities of the ePortfolio
  •  Exchange ideas about pedagogical issues
  •  Explore best practices
  • Plan for using ePortfolios in the following semester—for a specific course and for designated assignments


Part I: Overview and Setting

The teaching circles are semester-long workshops that meet three times a week. We have held one teaching circle per semester (one 10-faculty cohort on each campus) since fall 2010. The curriculum has generally stayed the same, but we have incorporated more hands-on technical support after hearing feedback through our surveys. We meet in campus event spaces that can accommodate laptop carts and lunch.  Through a combination of discussion, presentation and hands-on work, we give faculty the time to explore, question and discuss a variety of topics surrounding ePortfolio use.

Part II:  Practice Step-by-Step

Participants and Seminar Leadership

Each semester we have approximately 20 faculty participants, split between our Westchester and NYC campuses. Since fall 2010 we’ve had over 100 participants. While more than half of these faculty are in the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, others have participated from Lubin School of Business, The College of Health Professions, Seidenberg School for Computer Science and Information Systems and the School of Education.

Initially Beth Gordon and Linda Anstendig led the sessions, but have since passed the leadership onto two teaching circle “alumni” who have embraced ePortfolios in their own pedagogy. Professors Michelle Pulaski Behling and Hillary Knepper have generally followed our traditional layout, but have each made the seminar their own by selecting their own readings/handouts to distribute and highlighting different practices from their own teaching. We do consider these two faculty members to be an important part of the ePortfolio team at Pace. Both have helped us judge ePortfolio contest entries, present at our college faculty seminars and have encouraged their peers to use ePortfolios.  We continue to look for ways to cultivate future ePortfolio leaders at Pace.

We require our participants to use ePortfolios in at least one course the following semester. While we do not have official numbers, we know of several faculty from our first cohort in fall 2010 who continue to use ePortfolios beyond that point.

We have surveyed our teaching circle alumni group at various points, but struggle to obtain a large response rate. Our most valuable evidence of the effectiveness of the teaching circle comes from our face-to-face follow up meetings, as well as casual conversations with individual faculty.

The teaching circles help combat the issue of faculty not knowing enough about ePortfolio to use it beyond an add- on, or as simply a means of having students submit assignments. Our teaching circle alumni leave the seminar with a better grasp of the pedagogy behind the tool, and feel more confident with the technical aspects, and where to get help.

We help them move to the implementation phase by requiring that they design ePortfolio assignments for the third meeting and inviting guest speakers from the office of assessment and the library (Sarah) to discuss evaluating student ePortfolios. These activities often prompt planning for the following semester. Offering eTern support to help with the technical aspects also helps faculty feel less anxious about implementing ePortfolio.

Our follow-up meetings and surveys help sustain faculty engagement. We also look for opportunities to invite teaching circle alumni to present with us in our University’s faculty development days. Several of our teaching alumni’s ePortfolios are also featured on the ePortfolio viewer on   and/or have their assignments included in our assignment guide.

Part III: Role of Inquiry, Reflection and Integration:

Reflection, Inquiry and Integration are three key principles of the teaching circle curriculum. Regarding reflection, we highlight Mahara’s journal feature. Participants create their own journals to reflect on each session. We also invite past participants to at least one of the three sessions to show sample student reflections on ePortfolio and have the faculty member attest to the impact of these reflections. We discuss strategies for developing reflective thinking among students and faculty share assignments that they currently use which promote reflection.

The concept of the teaching circle directly promotes inquiry because we encourage the faculty member to take on the role of students as he/she explores ePortfolios, often for the first time.  Participants are required to develop their own ePortfolios to share with the group and through this exploration process, develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which ePortfolios can be incorporated into their coursework.

Integration is one of the most important goals of the teaching circle. Rather than simply use ePortfolio as an add-on, we encourage participants to think about how they might re-envision their curriculum, possibly do some “backward design” in order to incorporate the ePortfolio as both a space for students to process their learning (do the “intermittent thinking” that Randy Bass refers to), and to showcase the products of their learning (and develop some rubrics). To help faculty begin to adopt this type of thinking, we have each participant create an ePortfolio assignment to share with the group.

Connections to Other Sectors of the Catalyst


Linda developed the reflective practice for our ENG201 Writing in the Disciplines and lead the Pleasantville teaching circle cohort until a teaching circle veteran took over. Her emphasis on reflection, specifically, creating reflective journals and adding descriptions to each file, has left a lasting effect on the teaching circle curriculum.  We’ve had nine of Linda’s PLV English colleagues participate in our teaching circles. At least one has adopted Linda’s reflective practice.

Outcomes Assessment

Please see our survey results in the Evidence section of our Professional Development Story.


  • Chapters 1 and 2 from Electronic Portfolios 2.0 by Darren Cambridge, Barbara Cambridge, Kathleen Blake Yancey (ISBN-10: 1579223214)
  • Handouts

– Criteria for Incorporating the ePortfolio into a Course: Rev. Criteria for Incorporating the EPortfolio into a Course

-ePortfolio Syllabus Statement: Updated-eP-syllabus- statement-8-13

-Ideas for Incorporating ePortfolio in Your Class: Ideas For Incorporating ePortfolios in Your Class