DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

Stony Brook's Evidenced-Based Reflective Practices Faculitated

through Self-Direct Student ePortfolios  


Overview - The Student-Driven Factor to Success


Stony Brook is a Research I institution and we want our students to develop evidence-based reflective practices in their eportfolios.  The focus of our eportfolio training is the reflection.  The success of introducing and implementing the eportfolio process at Stony Brook can be attributed to our student ePortfolio Consultants. The students are invited by faculty into the classrooms to present an overview on eportfolio use and lead discussions on the importance of reflection. 


Our ePortfolio Consultants help create and design the campus eportfolio help and support materials.  One of our students developed a brochure on eportfolio use and included a statement on the importance of reflection.  The brochure is used in faculty and student eportfolio training sessions.


An excerpt from

ePortfolios at a glance - A student's perspective


Why reflect in an ePortfolio

     To students and faculty, eportfolios have been commonly mistaken for another Blackboard.  By collecting and uploading (selecting) coursework, projects, papers, and assignments into an eportfolio, it’s easy to understand the confusion between the two.  ePortfolios are different because students complete the learning process by reflecting and connecting.


     Reflection is not your typical Hallmark Card expression.  It’s about you.  You reflect to learn and connect the importance of everything you’ve done and learned.  From studying your coursework to applying the learning to your career and other activities outside the classroom,  reflecting allows you to develop and connect all areas of your life.  Being conscious through reflection of all that is around you helps you realize your  goals and  direction in this world.  Reflecting takes a broad concept like life and allows you to break  it down in your own perspective with your own strengths so  that you can succeed in life and be an agent of positive change in this world.

                  -Eda Charmaine Gimenez,
                           SBU Engineering Student


The ePortfolio Consultants oversee the Stony Brook ePortfolio Directory and regularly encourage and congratulate their peers on the design and content of their eportfolios in the comments sections of the eportfolios.  They choose model student eportfolios to be featured weekly in the Galaxy of Stars site and displayed on the Scala monitors in the student computer labs across campus.  Emails of congratulations are sent to the owners of the featured eportfolios with encouragement to continue their eportfolio and reflective practices.  At the same time, the Consultants must maintain their own model eportfolios with examples of reflective practice. 


Students listen to other students and follow each other’s examples.  The process and practice must become self-directed by the students.  Our student ePortfolio Consultants are the driving force for the success of eportfolios with evidence-based reflection becoming a part of the learning culture at Stony Brook University. 


Student ePortfolio Consultants


The Need

At the heart of learning at Stony Brook is innovation and research; at the heart of innovation and research is evidence-based practice and reflection.  The reflective practice must provide evidence of learning and move from the affective into the higher order, cognitive learning domain. In order for a student to be successful, the learning and reflective practice must become autonomous, self-directed and a natural working part of the student's daily life. The reflection progresses beyond how the student feels about the learning experience to realized abilities and how the learning connects to current, past and future experiences.  The learning is authentic and the reflective practice becomes a connector to the next learning level and experience.  At Stony Brook we are finding evidence that the use of eportfolios facilitates autonomous, self-directed learning and reflection.


The Goals

One of the main goals in higher education is for students to develop a lifelong appreciation for their discipline and continue learning and reflective practices throughout their lives. The reflective practice documented in a digital format, becomes a snapshot of the owner's progress and achievements over a lifetime of learning.  When this was explained to a student in a training session, she replied, "This is my legacy.  My children can learn from my achievements and know who I am."  That comment was a sign of emerging self-efficacy and a demonstration for the need to promote autonomous, self-directed learning and reflection through the eportfolio process.  Self-directed student eportfolios guided by the faculty and their peers facilitate self-determined learning behaviors necessary for achieving a successful professional and personal life.

Overview of Goals for Reflective Practices Documented in ePortfolios

  • Campus-wide use of evidenced-based reflective practices documented in eportfolios to enrich learning outcomes and promote authentic assessment.
  • Use of reflective practice to develop self-determined learning behaviors through faculty guidance in required course eportfolios.
  • Use of self-directed reflective practices to facilitate learning connections between courses, job, co curricular activities, service and personal development in student-owned showcase eportfolios with the support and encouragement of faculty, staff and peers.
  • Use of reflective practice documented in eportfolios to facilitate the transitions from high school to higher education and academic to professional career.
  • Use of reflective practice to promote an appreciation for learning and reflective practice over a lifetime.

The successful outcomes of these goals depends on the teaching and learning partnerships between Faculty, Advising, Student Affairs and Activities Staff, Administration, The Career Center Staff, Local Business and Industry Mentors, Teaching, Learning and Technology Staff and Student ePortfolio Consultants headed by The Faculty Center and,  most important, the Students.


Balancing The Process and The Product

The challenge with ePortfolio use at Stony Brook is balancing the eportfolio process with the product (tool).  The electronic tool used to facilitate the process often overshadows or completely hides purpose of documenting learning with evidence-based reflection.  Many faculty and students that don't understand the need for eportfolios, don't understand the eportfolio process and how it facilitates and enhances evidence-based learning and reflection.  This is the main reason Stony Brook chose a third-party vendor.  In order to assure campus-wide success, the eportfolio learning process had to come under one umbrella and be managed through a department that services the entire campus. 



Teaching, Learning and Technology, headed by The Faculty Center, oversees eportfolio operations at Stony Brook and successfully balances the eportfolo process which includes reflective practices within the eportfolio tool supplied by Digication.  ePortfolio uses at Stony Brook include

• Individual learning and showcase portfolios
• Course-based learning portfolios
• Programmatic assessment portfolios
• External accreditation portfolios
• Personal workspace and reflection
• Internship and career portfolios


The common thread that unites the various eportfolios is the use of evidenced-based reflection.  From the start, course and internship eportfolios have provided the foundations for eportfolio use at Stony Brook.  A team of student ePortfolio Consultants joined with The Faculty Center (TFC) staff in developing training and support for the campus-wide use of eportfolios.  A train-the-trainer model was developed with printed and web-based support materials that emphasized the reflective practice. TFC staff and students visited the classrooms of the course eportfolio pilot group preaching the gospel of the eportfolio process with evidenced-based reflection.  Individual consultations and trainings were conducted for the faculty and student interns.  Pilot eportfolio users were given a QuickStart Guide, ePortfolios @Stony Brook information sheet and a What Makes it Model eportfolio checklist with evidence-based reflection prompts. 

Training - Introducing The Process

Currently, the student ePortfolio Consultants transformed the QuickStart Guide to an electronic format and developed a Spotlight on ePortfolios site to provide examples of model eportfolios https://stonybrook.digication.com/stony_brook_eportfolio_showcase.  Students must have evidence-based reflection displayed in the eportfolios in order to be featured in the showcase. The printed ePortfolios@Stony Brook, and the What Makes it Model Checklist have been revised and added to an Introduction to ePortfolios at Stony Brook training packet.  The Reflection from a Student's Point of View is included and featured in the packet.  A rubric for building a career eportfolio is given to students in the Business, Leadership and Internship programs.  The La, La, La I'm Not Listening Resource Site for Non Believers is covered in these training sessions with an emphasis on the reflective practice to document critical and creative thinking abilities.  https://stonybrook.digication.com/stony_brook_eportfolio_showcase/Non-Believer_s_Resources


Introduction to ePortfolios at Stony Brook packet


Evidence-based reflective prompts that can be modified for course and independent, self-directed use are displayed in the training and support materials.  The prompts were developed collaboratively by Nancy Wozniak, Learning Architect, and Sourav Tamang, Student ePortfolio Consultant and Engineering Student.  The eportfolio pilot faculty reviewed and made edits to them.


  1. What skills or abilities did you learn from this experience and how are you able to apply them to other courses and areas of involvement in your life (academic, career, service, campus, personal interests)?
  2. What about this assignment or program was most useful to you?  Can you see a relationship to what you've learned to your other courses or activities in your academic and/or professional career?
  3. How would you describe this course, project or program to your friends?  How would you describe it to a future employer? 
  4. What areas and abilities in your life were strengthened or improved by this course, assignment, project or activity?
  5. List the ways you have grown as a result of this assignment, course, project, activity or program.
  6. What problems did you encounter and how did you solve them?
  7. What risks did you take and what did you discover about yourself? 
  8. What personal strengths and abilities did you discover and demonstrate by doing this assignment/activity or taking this course?
  9. If you had it to do all over again, would you?  Why?  What would you change?
  10.  How did this experience prepare you for your professional career?


The prompts are a launching pad for evidence-based reflection.  They have provided students and faculty a starting point for thinking about evidence-based reflections and can be modified to fit the learning experience.  More and more the prompts are being included in our eportfolio users’ course syllabi and are becoming required components for assignments and projects.  We see the freshman starting out with their reflections by copying and pasting the prompts and answering them as if they were test questions.  This is fine.  As they advance in the course and their academic careers, the prompts transform from reflective questions into reflective practice.




Emily Madsen, Marine and Atmospheric Sciences Major 



Emily created her course eportfolio as a requirement for Leadership and Service 102.  The students were required to create Welcome and About Me pages.  They were required to create a LDS 102 section and post their projects with descriptions and reflection on pages in the section.  The prompts were included on the course syllabus and in the Assignment area of their Blackboard course site. They were instructed to use two or three prompts and reflect on their assignments and projects.  Group reflections on collaborative social media projects were to be included in Google Doc wikis using the prompts.  Emily was not thrilled, but by the end of the course, Emily's reflective practices took hold. 


She writes in her course reflection, “In high school, I always despised reflecting on my work--the material covered in my high school classes tended to be rather simple and any moderately extensive reflection, in my opinion, ended up being mostly busy work. " 


More than likely, the high school reflection requirements were on an affective level.  She wasn’t challenged.  The evidence-based reflective prompts helped her see the value of using reflection to make learning relationships between what she was learning in class with other areas of her life.  She continues to add to her eportfolio and reflect, all self-directed activity.  Her Work History and Resume section contains self-directed, evidenced-based reflection that is a model example for faculty, as well as the students.


Emily's LDS 102 Course Reflection:


I initially had very low expectations for this course. It sounded like it would be heavily based on computers--something I had made a general rule to avoid as often as possible. However, I really liked the small class atmosphere and ended up enjoying most of the material we covered.


I also had a very low opinion of the ePortfolio at the onset of this course. In high school, I always despised reflecting on my work--the material covered in my high school classes tended to be rather simple and any moderately extensive reflection, in my opinion, ended up being mostly busy work. However, I did see the value of having a digital chronology of my classes and decided to give it a go. As the material got increasingly difficult in my classes, I found the ePortfolio to be an incredibly useful organization tool. At the end of the year, I found that looking over my ePortfolio for typos and grammatical errors not only helped me remember what I enjoyed about the class, but also how the concepts were divided up--which helped me formulate a study schedule for my final exams.


I am incredibly happy that I was so wrong about my LDS 102 class and ePortfolios. I enjoyed coming to class and writing about my coursework this semester and I will definitely keep updating my ePortfolio and remember my LDS class fondly.




Stony Brook began formal implementation of campus-wide eportfolio use during the Fall 2010 Semester and The Faculty Center staff and students began observing the activities and content documented in the campus pilot eportfolios.  Through the observation and documentation of eportfolio use, we identified a possible relationship with the use of evidenced-based reflection and multimedia to self-directed student activity in their eportfolios:


  • Students restricted to a course template and posting artifacts related only to the course do not continue with their eportfolio after the course ends.
  • Course restricted eportfolios lack multimedia and self-directed reflection.
  • Courses requiring reflective pieces in the eportfolios had a larger number of students continuing to independently add to their eportfolios after the course had ended.
  • Students encouaged by faculty to add multimedia and activities outside of the classroom to their course eportfolios are more likely to maintain their eportfolios after the course had ended. 
  • The students that were allow to design the look of their course eportfolios and reflect on activities outside of the classroom displayed self-directed reflective practices in their eportfolios after the course had ended.
  • Reflection developed to a self-directed and evidence-based style from Fall 2010 to Spring 2012.
  • Use of multimedia stimulates self-directed, evidence-based reflection and is  more evident in the students in the STEM and Health Services majors.

Though anecdotal, we hope to develop a formal study and a research model by Fall Semester 2012.  We do know that the implementation strategies for eportfolios and evidenced-based reflection must involve the students.  They must become the driving force for creating an eportfolio learning culture on campus.


Course Examples


Biomedical Senior Design

Dr. Jonathan Lui took his syllabus and spread it out with embedded guidelines in sections and pages throughout the Senior Design simple course template.  Students we encouraged to use multimedia and design a banner that represented their invention.  They reflected collaborately in the weekly progress reportsThe evidence-based reflection prompts were modified to fit the course.  Student ePortfolio Consultants visited the classroom to help the Sr. Design students get started with their eportfolios and discuss the importance of including evidence-based reflection throughout their eportfolios.


Prompts included in course eportfolio template



Students use multimedia with reflection


View other Biomedical Senior Design ePortfolios and Reflections


Self-Directed Reflective Practice

Aman Sharma
Aman work his group and created a Sr. Design course eportfolio.  At the same time he began a showcase eportfolio with self-directed reflection.  When asked why, he replied, "Because I want to get into graduate school and this will give me an edge."  He was accepted into the Master's Program of Health Science in Clinical Engineering in the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto.  He is using the eportfolio process to document his graduate experience.



DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.