University of Notre Dame
University of Notre Dame

PERSPECTIVES

First-year Files: Why Do I Have to Do an ePortfolio?

When you heard we had to create an ePortfolio this summer, did you think, “What is that?” or “How could that be helpful in any way?”

An ePortfolio is an online tool that allows you to create a representation of your learning and achievement using a variety of electronic media. Dr. Holly Martin (pictured right), associate dean in the First Year of Studies, provides insight into the purpose of the advising side of the First Year ePortfolio

“The First Year ePortfolio is split into two sections, one you were assigned over the summer, and another that will be assigned in January. The purpose of the first section was for your advisor to get to know you in a more personal way,” says Martin.

“The only personal information the advisors know about their students before they come to Notre Dame is what was on their original application”, she explains. “For a lot of students, that information is almost a year old, and much more formal than a normal conversation.”

It would be very hard for an application to show the entirety of a person, especially if they are trying to look as good as possible to be granted admission. The opportunity to be open and to show many aspects of yourself is what makes the ePortfolio so different and useful.

The second section of the First Year ePortfolio will be a little different. By asking questions like “what was your toughest class last semester and how did you get through it?” the ePortfolio process is meant to encourage us to reflect on what worked and what didn’t in our first semester at Notre Dame.

“The second section should help students understand that they are adjusting and learning, and that they are resilient and improving,” Martin says. “It also can show how some of your goals might have changed, and help you realize important things that you have learned that you might not even have realized you had.”

The ePortfolio should continue to be useful even after your first year.

“Put your best papers on there. You can see your progress,” Associate Dean Martin advises. “Personalize it to what you want use it for. If you are interested in FTT [Film, Television, and Theatre], for example, you can put your recorded performances in. You can make it an online resume. If you are interested in the health professions, lots of medical schools now require an ePortfolio to apply. Many, many students simply revamp their ePortfolios to show to future employers.”

By starting on your own ePortfolio now, you will be able to look back and remember all that you have done, what you have improved, and what you have accomplished while preparing for your future.