Although ePortfolios are being used widely in higher education, evidence of their value is still limited (Buckley et al., 2009) especially in speech pathology where their use is new (Lewis & Strampel, 2014).
At Edith Cowan University, speech pathology students have used an ePortfolio across the course since 2010. Research into student perceptions (2012) indicated that students used the ePortfolio as an organisational tool, e.g. to set goals, but found it too time-consuming and seemingly unrelated to their future practice (Lewis & Strampel, 2014). As a result of these findings, substantial changes to the ePortfolio tasks were implemented. A change of ePortfolio platform also occurred as the University adopted a new system.
This mixed methods longitudinal study compared student perceptions from 2012 and 2014 across the areas of technology, support and training, engagement, educational value, reflection, development of skills and future career. Students from 1st through 4th years were invited to complete a questionnaire comprising of 30 statements to be rated using a 5-point Likert scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree as well as open-ended questions. The 1st and 2nd year students in 2012 were 3rd and 4th year students in 2014, thus making longitudinal comparisons possible.
A total of 36 students participated in 2012 (response rate 44%) and 44 in 2014 (response rate 45%). Data from the 2014 study suggests students were finding the different ePortfolio platform easier to navigate, use and understand. Students gave higher ratings for value, usefulness, and the ability to focus on their training and achieve learning objectives. Findings indicate that students were better able to see how the ePortfolio would be useful in applying for jobs and in their future career. Results will be analysed statistically and comparative data will show changes in students’ perceptions over time.
Although the use of portfolios and more recently ePortfolios in higher education has been increasing considerably (Hallam & Creagh, 2010), the evidence base is still limited in its strength and extent (Buckley et al., 2009). The use of ePortfolios is very new in speech pathology, with only two published conference papers and one paper in a state journal available (Clark, & Hardham, 2010; Cotteril et al., 2007; Walden & Bamdas, 2011). In 2012, speech pathology students perceptions of an ePortfolio embedded across a four year course at Edith Cowan University (ECU) were collected (Lewis & Strampel, 2014). It was hoped that students would understand the value of their ePortfolio for learning/assessment, employability (articulating and evidencing selection criteria), and continuing professional development, as required by the peak body Speech Pathology Australia. Data from the 2012 study indicated that students did not see this link so substantial changes were made to the design of the curriculum in 2013/14 to address this gap. A 2014 study was conducted to evaluate the impact of the changes that had been made. Data will be presented showing attitude shifts over time and the value students now place on the ePortfolio for employability and continuing professional development.