ePortfolios for competence-oriented university teaching

The project, which was funded by the Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry of Education, Science, Youth and Culture in 2007 and 2008, investigates possibilities for developing competencies with the help of ePortfolios in university teaching. To this end, ePortfolio systems were piloted.

Understanding of competence

Competence goes beyond school knowledge and pure cognitive skills and includes practical, creative skills, attitudes, motivations, needs, goals, experiences and values. Change processes of competence take place in interaction with situational tasks and competent action becomes accessible only through authentic tasks in concrete situations. The use of (electronic) portfolios offers possibilities to create dossiers with authentic work samples based on such tasks and at the same time documenting their development and reflection. Based on the recognizable strengths and weaknesses, competence development can be specifically promoted.

Pilot applications

The project supported two pilot applications in the field of academic language training and evaluated experiences. These were the use of ePortfolios in the courses "English for Information Manager" and "Academic Writing in English" at the University's Interdisciplinary Doctoral Centre. The aim was to gain experience about the feasibility of the European Language Portfolio with the on-board tools of Blackboard (Bb) (as a standard e-learning tool) and elgg (as an example of a Web 2.0 application). Experience has shown that many e-portfolio elements could be mapped, however, the low-threshold usage (due to the usability of the software) as an acceptance criterion was often not given, which was especially true for the tool "elgg". (Version 1.0) was applicable. In addition, it has been shown that potential ePortfolio users need concrete factual and content-related incentives in order to enable targeted portfolio work in the long term: Only when the participants know what they can expect from the ePortfolio and what it is actually useful for can they use it properly and have the motivation to maintain it. This also requires a more competence-oriented learning and examination culture, which should include sufficient methodological qualification for students to work independently with portfolios.

Competence Workshop

Within the framework of the project, the IWM organised the workshop "ePortfolios for the support of competence-oriented university teaching" in November 2007.  The workshop was intended to provide an up-to-date impression of the use of and experience with ePortfolios within the framework of competence-oriented educational offers from the German-speaking countries and also to promote networking between the actors from the fields of higher education and in-company training and further education. The workshop offered keynote speeches on general principles of the concept of competence and ePortfolios, supplemented by presentations on concrete competence profiles in different contexts and experiences in the use of ePortfolios. For this purpose, competent representatives from the respective fields (management consulting, university didactics, computer science, etc.) from Germany, Austria and Switzerland could be won.

Related projects at the IWM are especially NedCar and TAS3.