Supporting critical thinking through digital learning and teaching: A portfolio process

Jennifer Rowley, Jennifer Munday, Patsie Polly

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review


They are nothing new: portfolios have been around for many years and today the electronic portfolio is still proposed by many educators as a 'storage space' for artefacts. This paper presents evidence that ePortfolio is so much more as it is capable of being a digital learning space that assists in the development of critical thinking. Employers often note that new graduates have poor communication, critical thinking and problem solving skills. We explore reflexive approaches to building students' critical thinking skills through use of the visual image and by encouraging educators to explore their own self-efficacy as a learner. By creating evidence of an individual's professional or personal identity we demonstrate how a reflexive process to create a portfolio (as both a learning ad teaching tool) can support improvements in critical thinking to support learning (and teaching), student outcomes and benefit life long learning. Conference participants were asked to take a photograph of something literal, metaphorical or symbolic that represented a facet of themselves before exploring how that photograph is representative of their professional or personal 'self'. The process that followed demonstrated how students (the next generation of professionals) can be encouraged to reflect on the what, how, why and who of themselves. This element of the paper presentation provides a practical example of a critical thinking process associated with self-reflection and portfolio creation. Understanding how learner professional identity intersects with developing a learning portfolio, through the use of personal images, is valuable for those teaching with digital tools. Investigating the progressive ways portfolio processes and products can be used to develop a professional identity through encouraging students to reflect and connect themselves to multi faceted identities is the paper's main outcome. Assisting students to develop a "sense of self" by aiming to improve one's own critical thinking is how an ePortfolio can be effectively used to do more than just store work samples and resumes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 16th European Conference on e-Learning (ECEL 2017)
EditorsAnabela Mesquita , Paula Peres
Place of PublicationUnited States
PublisherAcademic Conferences Limited
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9781911218593
ISBN (Print)9781510850972
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event16th European Conference on e-Learning: ECEL 2017 - Porto Accounting and Business School, Porto, Portugal
Duration: 26 Oct 201727 Oct 2017 (Conference website)


Conference16th European Conference on e-Learning
OtherThe European Conference on e-Learning was established 15 years ago. It has been held in France, Portugal, England, The Netherlands, Greece, Denmark to mention only a few of the countries who have hosted it. ECEL is generally attended by participants from more than 40 countries and attracts an interesting combination of academic scholars, practitioners and individuals who are engaged in various aspects of e-Learning.
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