Christy Chan
The Silhouette

McMaster has officially launched the Learning Portfolio in an effort to enrich the education experience beyond grades and exams. The Learning Portfolio, available through Avenue to Learn, is an online tool designed to allow students to plan, record, and reflect on the valuable experiences they encounter throughout postsecondary education.

The initiative is a key priority outlined in Forward with Integrity, an open letter written by McMaster President Patrick Deane regarding the priorities best suited for the development of the University.

Technology has become a crucial part of the student experience. The Learning Portfolio is yet another way to enhance student learning and critical thinking through an online platform. For instance,

users are able to include numerous forms of media in their Learning Portfolios, ranging from audio files and graphics, to presentations and documents.

Dr. Beth Marquis, professor in the Arts & Science program, serves as the Arts & Science program contact at Learning Portfolio focused meetings of Associate Deans from across campus.

“The Learning Portfolio, to me, is a tool that can encourage students to reflect on and synthesize their curricular and co-curricular learning experiences at university,” she said.

Marquis further explained: “It provides students with a context to make explicit their individual learning goals, to connect these to the learning experiences they have inside and outside of class, and to collect evidence of the extent to which they meet their objectives.”

This academic year, students can expect to see the introduction of the Learning Portfolio in 20 courses.

Dr. Laura Harrington is the project director for Forward with Integrity, and she believes the Learning Portfolio will become even more integrated.

“There are several instructors that are using the tool this academic year, and we expect this to grow over time.  We’ve looked at how other institutions are using similar tools within courses to draw some ideas from the experts, and we are also looking to find new, innovative uses within courses at McMaster,” she said.

This tool can also be used outside of the educational world.

“On a more practical level, this documentation of the learning process can also provide valuable material to give to potential employers, to faculty writing letters of reference for grad school applications, etc.,” said Dr. Marquis.

There are online training tools available on Avenue to Learn along with workshops that can be attended through getting in touch with the Student Success Centre or Institute for Teaching and Learning.

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