E-portfolio and Reflective Practice
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9th March 2019
Colette Mazzola

Sharpe explains E-portfolio and reflective practice, Beetham and Freitas, (2010, p.209) as providing a conceptual, contextual pedagogical approach to teaching and learning. They are said to give students ownership to reflect on their own experiential journey, influencing their creativity; a potentially powerful, transformational pedagogy, used predominantly andragogically. In addition, Finlay (2008, p.2) refers to reflection as a solitary pivotal introspection that produces a critical dialogue, adopting a molecular thinking approach to one’s actions, whilst Bugg and Dewey (1934) suggest that reflection is thinking a problem out, formulating a plan of actions. Conversely Schwartz and Schon (1987) state reflection is based around experiences, a phenomenon and prior knowledge.

The uses of e-portfolios in higher education according to Sharpe et a. (2010, p.204) indicates e-portfolios are successful for teacher trainers and dissertation students; incorporating reflection supports a holistic evaluation of distance travelled. To summarise Salmon’s (2011, p.32) model for online learning it has five steps for integration which enables students to reach self-actualisation and synthesis of information. In the computing department, this model has been utilised for dissertation student. Salmon's five stages each work to build up on the previous section, starting with ‘Access and Motivation' providing participants an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the online environment and explore to gain mastery of the system which could incorporate a how-to guide with strong direction and encouragement from the facilitator. Stage two; ‘Online Socialization’ provides strong social scaffolding which Seely, Brown and Duguid (2000) argue is essential whilst learning online. Furthermore, Swann Polzer, Seyle, and Ko (2004 p.25) affirms that online socialisation attempts to create psychological safe climates, enabling participants to express themselves in avoidance of stereotyping or labelling. Turning to Suler (2004), he describes being active online gives people the courage to do things that they would not in everyday life. The next stage outlines the ‘Information exchange’ successful engagement with the system provides opportunities for networked learning the facilitator would provide guided direction, be motivational and supportive formative feedback.

After successful scaffolding of stage 3 ‘Knowledge Construction’, an intervention is essential for high-level constructivist collaboration. For instance, Rowntree (1995 p.207) articulates, information is exchanged more as a cognitive process offering ideas that can be criticised and expanded, permitting a change in direction, or challenging alternative perceptions. Correspondingly Avis, Fisher and Thompson, (2010 p.89) announce constructivism places a great deal of emphases on building knowledge in groups, drawing on situation or experiences intrinsically, accompanying this Salmon (2011 p.53) confirms constructivism is important to trigger knowledge construction and deep learning. The final stage is ‘Development’ where Salmon (1995 p.52) outlines key principles are promoting responsibility of learning, supporting metacognition process, and promoting integration and application of learning experiences.

Andrews and Haythornthwaite (2007) indicate constructivism facilitates learning as a social process, encourage reflection, enhance communication and turn experience into learning, which is a continual loop of experiences similar to Kolb’s experiential learning cycle, nevertheless Heinze and Procter (2015) argue a drawback to Salmon's five-stage model is the flexibility of the structure, the hieratical stature as opposed to a cylindrical approach.

To conclude e-portfolios and reflective practice it has become apparent that extensive research has been completed in this area and promotes development and enhanced learning, there is not one correct pedagogical approach that is appropriate, nevertheless research does indicate that reflective practice is used predominantly andragogically.


Andrews, R., & Haythornthwaite, C. (2007). The Sage handbook of e-learning research. London: SAGE.

Avis, J., Fisher, R., & Thompson, R. (2010). Teaching in lifelong learning. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Bugg, E., & Dewey, J. (1934). How We Think: A Restatement of the Relation of Reflective Thinking to the Educative Process. The American Journal of Psychology, 46(3), 528. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1415632

Finlay, L. (2008). Reflecting in 'Reflective practice'. Practice-Based Professional Learning Center, 1, 1 -27. Retrieved from http://www.open.ac.uk/opencetl/files/opencetl/file/ecms/web-content/Finlay-(2008)-Reflecting-on-reflective-practice-PBPL-paper-52.pdf

Rowntree, D. (1995). Teaching and learning online: a correspondence education for the 21st century? Br J Educ Technol, 26(3), 205-215. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8535.1995.tb00342.x

Salmon, G. (2011). E-moderating. New York: Routledge.

Schwartz, H., & Schon, D. (1987). The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. Administrative Science Quarterly, 32(4), 614. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2392894

Seely, B., Seely Brown, J., & Duguid, P. (2000). The Social Life of Information. Work Study, 49(4). http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/ws.2000.07949dae.002

Sharpe, R., Beetham, H., & Freitas, S. (2010). Rethinking learning for a digital age. New York: Routledge.

Suler, J. (2004). The Online Disinhibition Effect. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 7(3), 321-326. http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/1094931041291295

Swann, W., Polzer, J., Seyle, D., & Ko, S. (2004). Finding Value in Diversity: Verification of Personal and Social Self-Views in Diverse Groups. The Academy of Management Review, 29(1), 9. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/20159006