E-portfolios: Creating your Professional Identity

E-portfolios: Creating your Professional Identity

Portfolio to Professoriate (P2P) is a pilot program that launched this spring quarter at Stanford. P2P at Stanford, led by Dr. Helen L. Chen, Director of e-Portfolio Initiatives, and Registrar Tom Black, is part of a five year NSF CAREER grant written by and awarded to Dr. Lisa McNair of Virginia Tech. The program has also run at four other universities. However, here I’ll discuss only details concerning the Stanford P2P program.

P2P’s goal is to explore the benefits of electronic portfolios (e-portfolios) for graduate students across all disciplines. The initial response to the launch of P2P was exceptional, with over 100 applicants. The program settled with about 40 students, spanning six of Stanford’s seven schools. This not-for-credit program is free and offered on a voluntary basis.   

Before we go any further, what exactly is an e-portfolio?

An e-portfolio is a digital collection of work and reflections that together describe learning experiences and professional accomplishments. The P2P program aspires to build a culture of portfolio thinking that can help guide graduate students in developing their professional identities.

Graduate-level work entails much more than what is displayed on transcripts so it is very important for students to showcase their achievements in some other manner. What better way than with a dynamic, reader-friendly, visually appealing e-portfolio?

What does the P2P program entail?

The P2P program is an online 10-week crash course in professional portfolio construction, implemented by Wende Garrison. At the beginning of each week, Wende sends out instructions for one component of the portfolio, followed up with feedback at the end of the week. The four primary pages, as suggested by P2P, are: teaching, research, service, and lifelong learning.

Each participating student is expected to present a piece of his or her portfolio in one of the two final showcases, held on May 21st and 22nd. As a participant, I presented my portfolio to the program leaders, Lisa McNair, Helen Chen, and Tom Black, guests from the Offices of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education, the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, the Center for Teaching Learning and the Career Development Center, and faculty and staff from various departments.

The portfolios presented in the final showcase were very impressive. Each student took a different approach to his or her portfolio, ranging from clean and minimalistic to detailed and creative. Check out sample portfolios on the P2P website.

The first takeaway from the day was that the participating students unanimously found P2P to be a worthwhile program; they all plan to maintain their e-portfolios and use them as a tool on the job market. The second takeaway was that more students should be given the opportunity to participate in this program, both at Stanford and elsewhere. In order to achieve this goal, P2P plans to become more self-sustaining in the future by taking a crowdsourcing approach for technical inquires and peer-to-peer feedback.

Rewards of creating a portfolio

Creating my portfolio has given me two great benefits. Firstly, I plan to graduate in December and this is a great tool to send to potential employers. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the process of developing my portfolio was an enlightening experience.

By forcing myself to write narratives about my experience, skills, and future goals, I was able to step back, reflect, and assess myself. I feel much more confident in what I’ve done and what I plan to do because of P2P. It has been a great learning experience. I highly recommend P2P, or simply e-portfolio development on your own time, for all graduate students. Feel free to browse my e-portfolio.

If you’re interested in creating your own professional portfolio and would like to learn more about P2P, check out the P2P website, or contact Dr. Helen L. Chen or Dr. Lisa McNair.

What are you opinions on e-portfolios? Are they becoming the resume of the 21st century? Please share your thoughts and any questions below. 

Mandy McLean is a graduate student in Environmental Earth System Science

See Also

Student E-Portfolios