Student attitudes towards and perceptions of ePortfolios in a first year Japanese language programme

Moffat, Sonja
Strauss, Pat
Corder, Debbie
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Master of Arts in Applied Language Studies
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Auckland University of Technology

Research into learner autonomy has confirmed the importance of learner competencies such as effective strategy use, goal setting and planning, maintaining motivation, and the ability to reflect and self-evaluate to the development of autonomy. The introduction of key competency frameworks to develop learner autonomy has been a focus of recent curriculum development from primary through to tertiary levels in the New Zealand education system. However, facilitating and managing the development of these learning competencies in a programme of study that has a number of different papers and staff, can be problematic. The learning portfolio is emerging as a possible medium to provide the required framework.

This study investigated the effectiveness of an ePortolio in enhancing learner autonomy in the context of a language learning programme. The aim of this study was to gain insight from a student perspective into the usfulness of ePortfolios as a tool to enhance student learning. Investigating learner autonomy and the development of self-reflection resulting from the use of ePortfolios was the main focus of the study. It also examined some of the practicalities of using an ePortfolio to develop the desired learner competencies, and discussed whether an ePortfolio provides an effective framework to record, monitor and provide feedback to students.

The results of the study reinforce the findings of previous studies in that there are benefits of ePortfolios as they encourage reflection. ePortfolios also have the potential to support the reflective process by making learning outcomes visible and they promote goal-setting. However, despite these apparent benefits, the findings suggest that there are many challenges, which have the potential to negatively influence its effectiveness.

The ePortfolio in this study was used with varying degrees of success. The findings have raised several issues regarding the introduction of an ePortfolio. The time it

takes for teachers to give individual feedback and maintain an adequate level of feedback throughout the semester was one major challenge. The extent to which learners need to be trained in the purpose of the ePortfolio and its link to reflection and developing autonomy was another issue that was raised. In addition, getting students to reflect on their learning holistically also proved to be problematic.

Overall however, findings as to the effectiveness of the ePortfolio in promoting autonomous learning appear promising, but they have highlighted the need to make changes to the ePortfolio itself. Its integration into the curriculum needs to be reconsidered to maximize its use and gain maximum benefit.

ePortfolios , Portfolios , Autonomy , Reflection , Self-assessment , Goal-setting
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