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Reflective Writing in ePortfolios


Motivating students to invest in a course beyond just turning in assignments and taking tests can be a tall order. Students sometimes struggle to make connections between courses and have a hard time understanding why they are asked to do certain assignments, thinking of them as “just assignments.” ePortfolios create an occasion for students to reflect on and make connections across their experiences and to explain the meaning and significance of those experiences to a professional audience. In this month’s video, Assistant Clinical Professor of Nursing Kelley Noll touches on good reflective writing and how she addresses the challenges of reflective writing with her students.

Kelley echoes the findings of research on reflection when she says good reflective writing assignments ask students to think more deeply about their experiences. She mentions that reflective writing, despite the sound of the term, can be forward-focused. Good reflective writing assignments not only prompt students to think of what they have done but also ask students to consider if they would do something differently in the future. The ePortfolio Project encourages reflective writing that provides context, explains the significance of an experience, makes connections to other experiences, and applies the knowledge a student has been gaining. See examples of student reflective writing in our gallery of examples.

Kelley and her colleagues’ work on reflection and ePortfolios is featured in a recent publication in the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy. The authors, who are members of the ePortfolio Project staff, discuss what faculty in the School of Nursing have done to integrate ePortfolios into their curriculum. Kelley even provided a reflective writing assignment from her class for the article. Focused reflective writing assignments like these are quite useful, as they encourage students to go deeper than a simple summary of an experience.

Reflective writing is a core component of an ePortfolio, and we offer students guidance on reflective writing on our student resources page. We’ve also talked about different aspects of reflective writing in earlier WriteBites posts, like this one that touches on the challenge of reflective writing, and this one about writing for synthesis. Want more help with putting together or refining reflective writing assignments? Have an assignment or approach you’d like to share with others? Contact us at eportfolios@auburn.edu. We would love to hear from you!

If you’re looking for introductory materials to discuss the process of creating an ePortfolio (including a section on reflective writing), we’ve put together a page for faculty with these materials and a video presentation to share with their classes.

You can also read the JITP publication, which discusses Nursing and other cohort department experiences with teaching ePortfolios.