Virtual Portfolios Showcase Students' Work

College students in their final year often compile thick portfolios of their work to showcase their college experience, but these days at Saint Mary's College, some students are creating virtual portfolios filled with pictures, videos, compositions, projects and audio files.

"The e-portfolio allows greater flexibility and opportunity for students to create a portfolio truly representative of who they are," says assistant Liberal and Civic Studies professor Monica Fitzgerald.

Instead of a cumbersome multipage portfolio, these students are turning in a one-line URL for professors and prospective employers to access. The Liberal and Civic Studies and Honors programs now require students to create e-portfolios as part of their Saint Mary's experience. The e-portfolio gives students the ability to add accomplished work to an internet portfolio that demonstrates the depth and breadth of their work. The portfolio also reflects the community service and outside work they have done.

Liberal and Civic Studies students have been creating paper portfolios since the program began but switched to e-portfolios this last year. "I thought that the e-portfolio was very efficient," says Francis Villasenor '11. "You just had to make one portfolio instead of 4 copies, which saves lots of paper."

Students include samples of academic papers, a resume or samples of in-class work experience, examples of community service they have done and assessments that evaluate academic, personal and spiritual growth. Several students are using their portfolios not only to showcase their work but as a branding tool when looking for jobs. "It shows my prospective employers the organization in my life," says honors student Amanda Sargent '12. Students are also encouraged to reflect on their plans after graduation. "A faculty committee reviews the portfolio and then interviews the students to assess their work and discuss their future goals," Fitzgerald says.

Some students have created Wordpress websites on final projects for their classes. "I hope to continue using it after my project is done," says Lindsey Nakashima '11. In addition to listing the required work for the Liberal and Civic Studies program, Meaghan Cleary's e-portfolio includes a list of 25 things to learn about her. Honors student Shelby Solomon '13 shows off her photography skills and her love of the "Criminal Minds" television show. Villasenor's e-portfolio incorporates a slide show of her life at Saint Mary's and projects she has completed.

"You could really make the e-portfolio very unique and interesting while incorporating things like digital media or pictures," Villasenor says. "Plus it is easy to upload everything, and I didn't have to worry about losing it."

- Kelly Fisher '11