Recent Research on Electronic Portfolios

Articles and Websites


Directions for ePortfolio Research

As a result of the 2004 AERA Conference, below is a beginning list of research questions about electronic portfolios that could be explored.

Graduate students preparing research on electronic portfolios have often asked what questions need to be explored about electronic portfolios. Here is the beginning of a list by practitioners in the field. Send your questions to and they will be posted to this page, along with your e-mail address for further clarification.

Helen Barrett's Questions: (

Helen Barrett's Hypotheses

  1. A model can be developed for balancing both the needs of accountability and deep learning, using three different systems that electronically talk to each other: A digital archive of learners' work; A learner-centered electronic portfolio "using the learner's authentic voice"; An institution-centered database to collect faculty-generated assessment data based on tasks and rubrics. For more in-depth discussion, see
  2. Greater learner ownership and control over the contents, purpose, and process of portfolio development, will lead to more intrinsic motivation to use the portfolio to support lifelong learning. For more in-depth discussion, see

From a High School implementing an electronic portfolio systen with their students:

From a researcher/developer of an e-portfolio system in a higher education institution in Singapore:

How can you verify that the input [in an online portfolio] is honest and true? How important are grades and transcripts in eportfolio systems? For further information on the background of these questions, read a case study based on a listserv posting to the ePortfolios listserv.

Jonathon Richter (

  1. What types of Electronic Portfolio architectures and reflective practices are most conducive for Teachers and Teacher Candidates to enhance their adaptation to growth and changing conditions?
  2. What kinds of barriers are evident in various Electronic Portfolio development milieus for useful learning about possible, probable, or preferable futures?
    • a. learner development,
    • b. motivational
    • c. mental representation,
    • d. technological constraints
    • e. learning environment
    • f. teacher presentation
    • g. assessment

Edinburgh's Research and Development of the ePortfolio (ERADC)
Dave Tosh, University of Edinburgh

Joanne Carney & Western Washington University

Diane Demarest, Program Coordinator, University of Idaho, Parents as Teachers Demonstration Project

I believe that if we integrate the concept of reflective record keeping through portfolios in the early years, there won't be a need to create buy-in at the elementary or secondary level. It will become an integral skill set and measure much like report cards or as institutional as parent-teacher conferences. I would like to add to the list several questions that I hope to explore:

  1. Can e-portfolios be an effective mechanism for reflective learning in adults during their child's early years when the learning is focused on parenting?
  2. Can e-portfolios (in a format yet to be determined) be integrated in a meaningful way in to home visiting or center-based parent education programs to serve the needs of the adult learner (the parent) while benefitting the child?
  3. Can an e-portfolio designed with content areas that would respond appropriately to #s 1 and 2 above also be an effective mechanism to bridge the gap of communication (as often cited in the literature) between home or early learning setting and the formal education system, most notably at kindergarten entry?
  4. If the implementation is successful, then can we assess the impact this may have on parental efficacy, engagement in the education system from the beginning of formal schooling, alignment of teacher and parent expectations at kindergarten entry and the impact of a strengths-based assessment of the child as they enter school.
  5. By developing this strategy in the most formative parent/child years, can we create a pattern of ongoing reflection with a growing e-portfolios owned by the parent and student that both empower learners and engages parents more intimately in the educational process?
  6. As a learning strategy, if parents more often created records of the simple daily events and reflected on them, many issues would be more readily solved that cause families to become chaotic, polarized or disfunctional.

Imagine what it might be like if this strength-based, multi-dimensional, highly textured story of the parent and child's journey through 18 years of learning replaced  the one-dimensional, unimaginative transcript that moves through the system with the student, and may include only the name or address of the parent, at best.  At the risk of sounding like a total Pollyanna, I think there is potential for a succesful eportfolio program in the early years to revolutionize the transition into school and the roles of parents in the process. 

TaskStream's REFLECT Initiative Research Questions

Spelman College Research Questions

  1. Critical digital literacy, as articulated by Selfe (1999), remains an elusive concept—to define, to identify, and to teach. Fostering CDL in Black students raises additional questions of power, literacies, and agency (Knadler, 2001; Banks, 2006). How does the electronic portfolio program at Spelman College, which takes as its central goals to foster critical thinking and lifelong learning, attempt to achieve those goals? How do its design and implementation both serve and fail the students involved in the project?
  2. What do faculty and students involved in Spelman’s electronic portfolio project (SpEl.Folio) tell us about the development (or lack thereof) of CDL through their work on electronic portfolios?
  3. What do the students and faculty at Spelman tell us about the intersection of their identities with their work on electronic portfolios? How do participants’ identities interact with their engagement with SpEl.Folio?
  4. How do Spelman students’ engagement with course-based eFolios compare to their engagement with self-sponsored Web sites such as Facebook? Specifically, what differences in purpose, audience, agency, content, reflection, and architecture characterize their engagement with these different kinds of sites? What can we learn from students’ self-sponsored work in digital media that can inform institutionally-sponsored programs such as SpEl.Folio?
    (courtesy of Margaret Price, Assistant Professor, Dept. of English & Director, SpEl.Folio, Spelman College - see article in Campus Technology, December 6, 2006.

What are your research questions?

E-mail me the question and a short paragraph explanation and I will add them to this list.

A comprehensive list of references compiled from a variety of research studies and dissertations on electronic portfolios 152K (from dissertations about Electronic Portfolios completed in the last five years by Carney (2001), Derham (2003), Falls (2001), Piper (1999)

compiled by Helen C. Barrett, Ph.D.

updated March 21, 2011