Digication Scholars Conversations

On the latest episode of the Digication Scholars Conversations, we delve into the innovative implementation of ePortfolios, exploring the impact on student learning, the institutional assessment of learning, and the drive toward equity in assessment.

Our guest, Abby Crew, is the Assistant Dean of Academic Planning, Assessment, and Improvement: Curriculum Review and Innovation at Colorado Mountain College.

Abby shares experiences on student and faculty engagement, the integration of AAC&U rubrics, the importance of 'folio thinking,' and challenges and strategies concerning the inclusivity of Multilingual learners.

She delves into the evolution of assessment practices and the institutional commitment to student-centered learning. From faculty engagement to student support, learn how ePortfolios turbo-charges learning and assessment in higher education.

03:15 Introduction
03:56 Beginning of the ePortfolio Journey
05:21 Experience with AAC&U ePortfolio Institute
07:48 Institutional Implementation of ePortfolio
09:19 Student Engagement with ePortfolio
11:56 Faculty Support and Resources for ePortfolio Integration
15:00 Goals and Evolution of the ePortfolio Project
16:18 Incorporating ePortfolio in STEM Disciplines
19:35 Personal Goals and Impact on Education
23:43 Institutional Student Learning Outcomes and ePortfolio
30:04 Supporting Multilingual Learners with ePortfolio
33:41 Future Plans for ePortfolio and Assessment
35:10 Conclusion

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#StudentLearning #AssessmentOfLearning #StudentCenteredLearning #InstitutionalAssessment #AuthenticAssessment #EquityinAssessment

What is Digication Scholars Conversations?

Digication Scholars Conversations...

Welcome to Digication
Scholars Conversations.

I'm your host, Kelly Driscoll.

In this episode, you'll hear part one of
my conversation with Abby Crew, Assistant

Dean of Academic Planning, Assessment
and Improvement, Curriculum Review, and

Innovation at Colorado Mountain College.

More links and information about today's
conversation can be found on Digication's

Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Full episodes of Digication Scholars
Conversations can be found on

YouTube or your favorite podcast app.

Welcome to Digication
Scholars Conversations.

I'm your host, Kelly Driscoll.

And today I am so pleased
to introduce Abbey Crewe.

Abbey Crewe is Assistant Dean of
Academic Planning, Assessment and

Improvement at Colorado Mountain College
Curriculum Review and Innovation.

Welcome Abbey.

Thank you.

Did I get that all right?

You did.

You did.

It took me one year of reading my
email signatures to memorize my title.

Well, thank you so much
for joining me today.

Um, I thought it would be fun to just
kind of kick things off, um, for our

listeners and learning a little bit
about what your role at, uh, CMC entails.

Well, my eight word title, um,
has been tagged onto as well.

So I am also the project manager
for our COMPASS Initiative and our

COMPASS Initiative Digication is
our strategic alignment between

academic affairs and student affairs.

And what's really exciting about
Digication and our partnership, uh,

with Digication is that we were looking
at, uh, first year experience and

realized that we have 11 different
campuses, we're a dual mission

institution, a third of our scholars
are dual enrollment, uh, so they're high

school concurrent enrollment students.

About a third of our learners are also
multi lingual learners, so we were really

struggling to find a first year experience
that met everyone's needs because we

don't have a one size fits all clientele.

And so we couldn't.

Uh, craft a one size fits all
first year experience either.

Um, so Digication gave us this
opportunity to capture the CMC

experience through ePortfolio.

So we are weaving that into our holistic
advising efforts, um, and really helping

students see themselves within their
scholarship and see their journey.

Both within and beyond the classroom
into job placement and Digication has

been really influential in that endeavor.


Thank you.

And I know your school is pretty
new in its use of ePortfolios.

Are you still kind of considering
where you are in kind of that pilot

phase or have you expanded from
that initial kind of endeavor?

Let us know kind of where, where your
school is in that implementation.

We are in year two of our pilot
program, and we were able to extend

the pilot another year because of
the Quora launch, and so we're really

excited to pilot the assessment on
the back end of the Quora build.

with our brand new Institutional
Student Learning Outcomes.

So our Student Learning Assessment
Committee, uh, will be able to utilize

the AAC& U rubrics that align with
our Institutional Student Learning

Outcomes as they apply to the student
artifacts within the ePortfolio.

So that's what we will be
piloting this year specifically.


And I, I love having institutions that are
kind of newer in these ePortfolio pursuit.

Pursuits come and speak to us about the
experience because it's so fresh, kind

of where you are in the beginning stages.

And I would love to just hear a little bit
about, you know, how did this all begin?

What kind of spurred the interest?

I know your institution's been
working Really diligently and

incorporating more high impact
practices into various classrooms.

How did ePortfolio really
become part of the discussion?

It's a great question because our
journey began with the High Impact

Practice Institute with AAC& U.

And as I alluded to earlier, we went
in doubling down on our first year

experience as our high impact practice
and then quickly pivoted, um, to

ePortfolio to capture that CMC experience.

So, our journey began, uh, with high
impact practice investigation and the

ways in which ePortfolio can really
capture that for, Uh, the myriad,

uh, experiences from certificate
to bachelors that our students

pursue at Colorado Mountain College.

We have subsequently, uh, attended
the AAC& U ePortfolio Institute

that is a year long pursuit.

Uh, we also attended the ALHE assessment
conference last year where LaGuardia

Community College were celebrating their
work and, you know, all signs pointed to

Digication, so we had to give it a go.

Well, we always love to hear that,
but tell us a little bit about the

AAC&U ePortfolio Institute experience.

Um, because I know there, there,
there may be some listeners that

are taking part in it right now.

Um, there may be some listeners
that have been thinking about it.

And I think that there's probably some
listeners like, uh, yourselves that.

participated in it and are now
in this kind of pilot phase or

getting things off the ground.

So tell us a little bit about what that
experience was like for your institution.

So what's, what's remarkable is that
you get to ideate with colleagues

who are in the same morass.

And so I really appreciate AAC&U
creating the space for us all to explore.

And strive and fail and explore some more.

Um, and so we, we got, we were invited
to present at the AAEEBL Conference.


And part of that preparation
was creating a journey map.

And I was like, well, we
hadn't really done that much.

And then I went through the exercise
of actually creating this journey

map and was like, oh my gosh,
we have done so much in a year.

And this journey map has actually
been celebrated and shared.

At board of trustees meetings and
academic council and throughout the

institution because we have done a lot
of work in a short amount of time with

an expert coach who has also made a lot
of mistakes and we learned from those

and it sets us ahead five years and in
collaboration with other institutions.

Who have similar stumbling blocks, and so
we kind of pick each other up and say this

worked at our institution, this didn't
work, so don't try that, or maybe try

that, but no, this might be, you know, an
impediment that's coming, so we really,

we just, we get to collaborate and ideate
on Um, Innovative strategies that are

truly change makers in the institution
of higher ed and that's exciting.

It's, it's empowering and it's
energizing and sometimes change can

be defeating and we all know that.

So we get to pick each other back up.


And you're really, you know.

Starting to get this off off the
ground, I think at a time where a lot

of institutions would say, Oh, you
know, our faculty are just exhausted.

How could we ask them to do
something different right now?

So how do you feel like it's been
positioned in such a way, your

institution, where it does feel like
it's more of an exciting opportunity

for faculty versus something that
It's just kind of one more thing that

they have to learn in the midst of
everything else going on in their lives.


And I think faculty fatigue and
initiative burnout and all the other,

um, COVID has changed everything.

Um, it's a coalition of the willing.

So certainly there is no top down mandate
that faculty need to embed ePortfolio.

Um, we were really actually hoping
that the change agents themselves were

students, uh, celebrating their work,
um, and championing this practice at CMC.

It's really a gift that we're able to
offer students, both in terms of the

artifact that they can take into their
job interviews, but also the folio

thinking that it cultivates in a scholar.

To be able to connect what they're
learning in a math class and

articulate in an interview how that
sets them apart as a candidate.

Um, so that folio
thinking really is a gift.

And, and so again, faculty
have the opportunity to opt in.

We embed a tutor in any class that has
Digication for some technical assistance.

We actually have some student
scholars who are going to help us

as well, uh, student work study.

Uh, we have, last year was our first, our
inaugural student symposium to showcase

the work of students in ePortfolio
and that was remarkably well received.

Um, and finally we, we started the change
making through a four question, short

form reflective assessment practice that
asks our faculty to connect, um, what

they are, learn, what they're seeing
from their student artifacts, how they

connect to our institutional student
learning outcomes, and then reflecting

on how successful or not the case may
be and what supports they may need.

So we've.

We've had a couple of different
nodal points in this culture shift,

beginning with the four question short
form, kind of moving away from box

checking assessment to more authentic
assessment, and then connecting our new

institutional student learning outcomes.

to that authentic assessment
through ePortfolio.

So it's kind of like win, win, win.

We also have holistic advisors
who are championing this work.

Um, they, we can invite students to, um,
share who they are, why they're coming

to our institution, uh, what they hope
to get out of our institution prior to

even meeting, uh, an advisor and then
reflecting on the work that they were able

to demonstrate in their first semester.

Um, and then in subsequent semesters
in this e portfolio, this kind of

living transcript, if you will.

Oh, I love this.

And I hope some folks that might be
considering doing a pilot are madly

taking some notes on this because you've
clearly learned some really wonderful.

Best practices, you know, from having
it something where faculty members can

opt in versus it being something that's
mandated or top down, having tutors

that are inserted into the classrooms
already that just automatically

removes hurdles for faculty members
that may not feel like they're ready

to demonstrate the actual technology,
the use of the student mentor...

All of this is just, um, clearly
been beneficial for your students.

I mean, when you look at the quality
of the ePortfolios that are already

starting to be created two years
in at your institution, um, you can

tell that there you've got real.

faculty engagement and
commitment to, to the cause.

So thank you for, for sharing that.

Um, as the faculty members are kind
of opting into this experience,

what kind of resources are they
given to kind of prepare for

integrating this type of pedagogy
or technology into their practice.

I love that you started with some
reflective questions that they're

responding to because it sounds like
in terms of You know, assessment

and maybe choosing what kinds of
artifacts or student experiences their

students might add to the portfolio.

They're starting with something that,
you know, they're already doing, right?

They're doing the work in
their classrooms already.

It's just about capturing that.

How do you kind of take them from
those initial reflective questions

to then kind of putting it into
that day to day practice that

they're having in their classroom?

We have a number of different resources.

Um, so we have, I was like a
traveling library whenever I was

going to the different campuses and
I was like, we have all these books.

Um, so we have that.

I also have a Canvas page that I can add.

So we use Canvas as our
learning management system.

And I have added faculty
to that Canvas page.

Um, and so they have access to all of
the resources that I have created, and

those resources include, uh, onboarding
checklists, like, you know, email the

serve our learning management systems
specialist to have Digication added to

the tab, so it's single sign on, and,
you know, then embed the tutor, and, you

know, step by step instructions there.

I've also actually, I, I added a
transparency in teaching and learning

assignment for Digication that I
shared and I just worked on one

for the advisors actually as well.

So, um, uh, making accessible all of
the resources that have been created

so faculty can not start from scratch
but kind of ideate from what is

already in existence and just being
really intentional about connecting.

Like you said, what's already happening
in our classroom with our institutional

student learning outcomes, which I will
also add a line with our, um, Gen Ed

core curriculum, and those outcomes
come straight down from, uh, the

Community Colleges of Colorado system
that we, um, adhere to those agreements.

And so those Gen Ed outcomes.

are embedded in our institutional
student learning outcomes.

So it's all, like, very
intentionally nested.

So it's not additive, it's embedded.

And our job is to make, uh, transparent
what all students are learning when

they create a final project, right?

Like, that's, that's what we're doing.


I have transparency in teaching and
learning, um, frameworks for the students,

but I'm doing a lot of that for our
faculty as well, connecting those dots.

Okay, great.

And I was curious, so from the, maybe
the initial goals that you had when

you were starting the pilot, what
Some of those might've been, and with

this next, you know, phase that you're
in, how have those evolved at all?

Or what maybe are some new goals now that
you've gotten to the place where you are?

Great question.

I think that we started at the course
level, uh, with our goals, and that was

just to get the pilot off the ground.

And I think our Our new goals are to
move from course level, we have some

programs that are super excited, uh, and
you probably saw some of those artifacts.

Uh, our outdoor leadership
students are taking selfies of

themselves hanging off mountains.

And they're really excited about it.

Um, and again, this is program level
assessment and the faculty are equally

excited about, um, you know, iterating
what that assessment, um, cycle looks

like and leveraging digication here.

Um, to the institutional level assessment.

So that I think is what we're really
focusing on in this, uh, second

year pilot, uh, moving from course
level to program to institution.


And I also noticed, you know, and
looking some at looking at some of the

student e portfolios in preparation
for our, our conversation today, that

there's a number of really wonderful
ePortfolios that are being created in.

More STEM oriented disciplines.

And I know sometimes in conversations
with institutions, you know, we'll

hear from, um, you know, maybe the
humanities, liberal arts, writing

programs that immediately see a
good fit for ePortfolios, but.

There's sometimes other disciplines
that feel like they don't have

a good fit for any reason.

And it seems like at your institution
that those that are in STEM

related kinds of fields and study
have just really grasped this.

Has there been anything about your
conversation with faculty members

in those disciplines that you
feel like may have shaped that?

Or is it just the culture of the
institution that just seems so

prime for this kind of pedagogy?

It's certainly faculty driven.

I will say our program director for
ecosystem science and stewardship

program is of Faculty champion
in ePortfolio, and she's really

driven the portfolio engagement.

Um, I think probably those
genetic students that you were

seeing, uh, in that project.

And our outdoor leadership studies
faculty are also really excited.

And, and it speaks.

I had a lot of many conversations with our
program director for outdoor leadership.

And he just shared, like, how an
ePortfolio speaks to his students.

They don't want to write a paper
about, you know, whatever they

were doing in the wilderness.

They want to take a picture of themselves.

And then they want to say,
you know, in a caption.

The cool stuff that they were
doing, like that just speaks to,

to their, um, heart and mind.



And so it's really exciting
to be able to, to capture this

learning in a, um, multimodal way.



They wanna be outside.


they wanna be in the field
and, you know, really capturing

those things in, in the moment.

So, uh, that makes a lot of sense.

So, uh, for those listening, I warned
Abby that I did spend some time looking

at her own personal portfolio, uh, before
hopping on, uh, this podcast with me.

And there was an area
of the portfolio that I.

I really, I mean, I enjoyed reading the
whole thing, but I did want to highlight

some of the goals that you outlined there.

You're probably, you know, trying to
think what you said there, but, um,

you said, uh, that your goal is to
ensure higher education is welcoming

and equitable for all students and that
you're striving to inspire innovation

and passion for learning and improvement
among your colleagues and students.

And I was wondering if you could maybe
elaborate on that a little bit and talk

more about, because you're doing so
many things at the college right now.

Um, you know, you know, from looking
at your portfolio and looking

at all of the things that you're
doing, I get a sense of this.

Kind of incredible passion that you
have for education and also for your

students and their futures and I would
love to hear a little bit about how some

of the things that you're doing at the
college are kind of meeting those goals

or you feel like you're helping you
start to get to achieving those goals.

I had 17 eager learners in my
sociology of diversity class

yesterday and it was energizing.

Um, so it was our first class of the
fall semester, so that was exciting.

Um, and so I think how I'm, I'm
really a champion for high impact

practices across the institution and,
and being able to move the needle

there, uh, has been very meaningful.

We have.

We know that high impact practices work.

We also know that they work at CMC, and
that's what's really exciting for us.

We have some robust internal
data about increased persistence

rates for our students who are
exposed to high impact practices.

Um, so Making sure that faculty
are feeling supported, uh, that

they have the information that they
need, that they have the support

to embed a high impact practice in
their class is really important.

And the more that we're able to
champion this work and celebrate

this work and support this work.

The more our students thrive, and like,
that's what's so very important for me.

The other kind of few fire that fuels my
belly is, um, around the institutional

student learning outcomes that we, Just
updated, uh, and, and really making

relevant and transparent the, what we
call outcomes, competencies, and skills

that our students get from certificate
programs to bachelor's programs.

So, we don't have a distinction
at our institution from career

and technical education, are only
expected to demonstrate hands on

skills in our four year bachelor's
programs engaging critical thinking.

Like, we don't believe in that.

We believe that every learner at
Colorado Mountain College can demonstrate

knowledge, involvement, and application
upon graduation from any program.

And I think that that really kind
of democratizes higher education.

It also makes relevant.

higher education from our welders to
our bachelors in sustainability and

more kind of theoretical programs.

And, and it makes for a workforce
that has skills for the future that I

really think are imperative, um, from
critical thinking to oral communication.

to being able to work
with a diverse population.

And so, um, you know, from the 17 students
in my class to the faculty champions

to the systems in place, you know, we
kind of can scale out how impactful

higher education is and how important.

The work that we are doing and the
articulation of that work we are doing,

um, keeps me coming back every day.

I love it.

And it seems like whenever you're
kind of setting out to do something

that you have a real, um, kind of mind
for, and you know, I'm sure this is in

collaboration with others often as well,
but a real mind for kind of developing.

Um, kind of a scaffold or a very clear
kind of strategic plan for, you know, step

by step, you know, what various stages
are and how they can happen and what the

various goals are at each of those stages.


And I enjoyed seeing some of the
presentations that you shared within

your personal ePortfolio that were
housed under a particular tab called

Knowledge, Involvement, and Application.

And it sounds like that is a
kind of common language that's

used throughout the institution.

And are those Knowledge, Involvement,
and Application kind of categories,

something that students are working
towards demonstrating as well?

Yes, those are our institutional
student learning outcomes.

And then embedded within those
outcomes are competencies and skills

and then the AAC& U dimensions
that we use to measure them.

So being consistent with those outcomes,
um, we even had a conversation about

our Employee evaluations aligning with
knowledge involvement in applications,

so it's just woven into the fabric of
what we do, um, and not an external box

to check assessment, which is kind of
historically what it had been, um, and I

do have an amazing team, including a new,
uh, assessment director, which really, uh,

we collaborated to, to drive a lot of this
change that we're seeing in action now.


And I had a question for you too.

So I know many institutions kind of
wrestle with, um, you know, how, how

structured the, maybe the prompts or
templates that students are given need

to be in order for them to kind of
be able to see demonstration of their

Um, Outcomes in, in various courses or
learning experiences that they've had.

And how does, um, you know, how are
some of your kind of champion faculty

members there approaching that?

Have you seen them kind of try some?

Different, different structures or
approaches to kind of pulling that

information out of their students
and what that process has been like.

Yes, students always want a model.

And so many of our faculty champions
have gone in and made their own e

portfolio to share a model of what
this can look like and also to.

sort of stumble through the
technology and learn a new platform.

Uh, there's always a learning curve there.

So, um, that has certainly driven
a lot of this work as well.

That's great.

So, it sounds like, um, when they
approach it with their students,

they've, they've got some personal
knowledge of the, of the platform.

Um, you mentioned that they've
got tutors that come in and may

be available to provide some
initial training for the students.

How are the students then supported when
they start creating their own ePortfolios?

Is it something that faculty
are really doing within there?


Are there other kinds of resources?

Other than the embedded tutors, we
don't have a ton of other resources.

I'm hoping that our student, uh,
employees actually will create some

videos, some how to prompts, um,
and tutorials for the students.

Right now, our prompts are very open
ended, um, upload an artifact of your

work that demonstrates an alignment,
or demonstrates a dimension, um, and a

competency, and articulate how and why
that exists, and, and that's the extent

of our instruction right now, so, so
what is consistent are the outcomes,

uh, the competencies and the skills, and
then, and The instructions are really

quite open ended and we'll see how
that goes and so far so good Certainly

we can improve and iterate with each
Uh, student feedback we get as well.


Well, and I was going to say too, so
far so good because it seems like the

students have been able to embrace that
kind of open ended question and approach

that and respond in very creative.

Ways, um, they're all choosing very
different types of artifacts and

presenting it in different ways.

They're beautifully designed ePortfolios
the ones that I saw it included a lot of

media and Alongside the reflections that
they were writing towards the outcomes.

So they seem quite quite
comfortable in that environment.

And I know in your role that a lot of
your, um, kinds of focus, and maybe

this goes back to some of your early,
um, kind of studies in, um, gender

politics and gender studies, that there
seems to be this thread of interest.

And it's something that's very near
and dear to our hearts at Digication

too, around, you know, this kind of.

Kind of theme around belonging for the
students and finding their place within

the kind of institutional fabric, finding
their community at the same time that

they're starting to discover who they are.

And, um, learn about, you know,
all of their strengths and

skills and growth along the way.

Um, I was curious in, in the work
that you do, are there conversations

about using the ePortfolios?

In, in that way, um, you
know, how are they maybe being

coached or guided in that?

Yes, you know, we're interested in
seeing your demonstration of learning

outcomes, but, you know, how might this
be something that's of value to them,

you know, beyond demonstrating that at
an institutional level, how might it

really benefit them as an individual?

Yeah, we share with students that they
can, it's like a living transcript

and so they are able to take who
they are, how they're growing, what

they're working on and bring it
home and share with their family.

Um, and that's really important.

And also in, as a job placement, um,
skill and artifact that they can bring

in, um, and link on their profile and
then share with potential employers too.

So certainly beyond the
realm of the classroom.

When you were talking, I was
also thinking about how we really

emphasize, um, equity in assessment.

And so our multimodal authentic assessment
is imperative in a classroom where

the written word is not the only way.

To demonstrate an understanding
or kind of Freirian banking model,

like, we don't believe in that.

It does not resonate with our learners.

We're trying to, in, in some spaces,
decolonize, um, higher ed, and so I

think Digication give us a, a platform
to do that and to celebrate that and to

enhance many ways of knowing and being,
and especially at a institution with a

third of our population as multilingual
learners, to allow our, our students to,

to think in their native language and to
celebrate and ideate and demonstrate their

understanding in their native language.

Digication can do that.

And it's, it's really remarkable.

We're grateful for that.



Can you think of some examples
where you've kind of seen that come

to light in some of the student
portfolios that have been created?

We tried really hard with some
of our, um, ESL instructors to

integrate, uh, the ePortfolio.

And it was not as successful.

And actually, we've had some conversations
about offering instructions in Spanish.

And I think that would go a long way.

So when that happens, let us know.

Cause we really will be
early adopters there.

Um, so Jeff and I've talked about that.

Good, good.

Um, that would, that would.

Go really far in helping, um, celebrate
and champion the work of our multilingual

learners in an e portfolio and Right
now, some of our earlier classes, it,

the technology feels a little daunting,
and in our later classes, our students,

um, can celebrate their, their myriad,
um, identities in their ePortfolio.

But, you know, there's, there's
some, some technology navigation

that is required as well.

This concludes part one
of our conversation.

To hear part two, be sure to
subscribe to Digication Scholars

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