Getting to know the Learning Portfolio

By Erica Balch, April 3, 2014
    Council Chambers was filled with faculty, staff and students for the Learning Portfolio Showcase, which took place March 28. The day-long event was hosted by McMaster provost David Wilkinson.

More than 200 faculty, staff and students from across McMaster gathered last week for the Learning Portfolio Showcase, a day of events to inform and engage the McMaster community around the Learning Portfolio.

"I was delighted to see so many from across the University actively engaged in the day’s events," said McMaster provost, David Wilkinson who hosted the showcase. "The Learning Portfolio is a valuable tool that can enrich student learning by encouraging goal setting and critical reflection. I hope that this showcase has inspired students, instructors and staff to look for ways to meaningfully incorporate the portfolio into academic and student life at McMaster."

The morning session, facilitated by Arshad Ahmad, director of the McMaster Institute for Innovation and Excellence in Teaching and Learning (MIIETL) and AVP (Teaching and Learning), included a panel of McMaster instructors who talked about their experiences incorporating the Learning Portfolio into courses, followed by a lecture delivered by guest speaker Randy Bass, Vice Provost for Education at Georgetown University.*

View Professor Bass' presentation

A student presents her Learning Portfolio to faculty, staff, local employers and other students at the Student Showcase held in the student centre.

A student presents her Learning Portfolio to faculty, staff, local employers and other students at the Student Showcase held in the student centre.

In the afternoon, dean of students and AVP (Students and Learning) Sean Van Koughnett introduced a presentation on how the Learning Portfolio has been incorporated in the MacServe program and moderated a panel of McMaster alumni and local employers. The day concluded with a networking session in which students were invited to present and receive feedback on their portfolios.

Samantha Moraes, a level three student in the medical radiation science program, presented her portfolio during this session.

"One of the things I learned at the showcase was that I needed to add more reflection to my portfolio,"said Moraes. "It’s OK to say that you have all these great skills, but how did you learn to be a collaborator? How did you learn to lead a team? If you start thinking about this now, it becomes part of your daily life and adds another dimension, not just to a resume or a cover letter, but to all our activities as students.”

Video: See how some students are using the Learning Portfolio

The Learning Portfolio is an online tool, accessible through Avenue to Learn, that allows students to plan, record and reflect on a range of learning activities, both curricular and co-curricular.

About 3600 McMaster students are currently using the Learning Portfolio. It has been introduced into 30 courses since its launch last September and there are plans to significantly expand the use of the portfolio in the 2014/15 academic year.**

*Video of Professor Bass’ lecture will be available in the coming weeks.

** MIIETL will be hosting a hands-on session on June 4 aimed at helping instructors integrate the Learning Portfolio into educational activities. Email fwi@mcmaster.ca for more information, or to indicate your interest in attending.