One of ten Digital Ethics in ePortfolios Principles

ePortfolio evaluation should consider process, inclusion, reflective practice, and alignment with the stated objectives of the context in which the ePortfolio was created.


Educators and students benefit from a shared understanding of what content in the ePortfolio will be evaluated as well as the criteria for evaluation. Evaluation mechanisms should be developed in accordance with valued practices of ethical ePortfolio pedagogy, including process, inclusion, and reflection. Educators need to make explicit how evaluation criteria align with assignment or course objectives or should develop criteria in collaboration with students. The evaluation process ideally includes both educators and students.

Stylized piece of paper with a pen


  • Evaluating ePortfolios through fair, transparent, and inclusive strategies with evaluation measures and procedures that are explicitly communicated to students prior to the assignment.
  • Developing evaluation mechanisms that are informed by research, aligned to learning outcomes, and include input from multiple and diverse stakeholders, including administrators, faculty, and students.
  • Creating evaluation criteria that align with disciplinary or professional standards and are meaningful to students beyond the context of a single course.
  • Evaluating ePortfolios through summative approaches to evaluation beyond traditional rubrics/grades, such as labor-based criteria and process documents, to offer more equitable approaches to feedback and grading.
  • Integrating formative reflection strategies throughout to provide opportunities for students to self-assess and receive on-going feedback.
  • Providing educators with access to resources and models that support the design of effective ePortfolio evaluation methods.
  • Offering faculty adequate training to apply evaluation materials to ePortfolios with a knowledge of how bias operates in the rating/evaluation/feedback processes.
  • Compensating and recognizing individuals who continually ensure ePortfolio evaluation is performed ethically, including but not limited to training and professional development, norming sessions, feedback and listening sessions, etc.


Scenario #1

You are a program administrator leading a new ePortfolio initiative at your college. You’ve been asked to develop flexible ePortfolio resources that can be used by faculty across the disciplines, including an ePortfolio rubric. You have a committee composed of educators from different colleges to help you begin this work. As you come together to discuss what you value in ePortfolios, you discover that ideas like professionalism, effective communication, and visual literacy vary significantly from one discipline to the next. A rubric that is too specific might constrain ePortfolio creators or unfairly evaluate them. While you want to create shared materials that can be helpful for students and instructors, you also want evaluation criteria to align to professional and disciplinary expectations.

To balance these tensions, you choose five general areas (visual literacy, written literacy, technical literacy, professional literacy, and ethical literacy) but then encourage educators to work with students to describe what these areas look like in their disciplinary and professional communities and the best way to evaluate their ePortfolios within the context of the course or program. You create in-class activities that educators can use in their courses to collaborate with students on creating these evaluation materials.

Scenario #2

You are a student who is working on an ePortfolio as part of their capstone course in Health and Human Sciences. You have been using the assignment sheet to begin the ePortfolio drafting process but are feeling nervous about whether or not you are on the “right” track and will earn a good grade. Luckily, your educator has planned a peer review, and you are hopeful that this will be an opportunity to get feedback from peers. You are quite nervous though, because the last time you participated in a peer review activity, the educator shared a rubric with you and told everyone to read it and look over their peer’s writing. That was confusing because the rubric had a lot of “teacherly” words, and you weren’t sure how exactly to apply a rubric to writing. When you got your paper back, your peer had only moved some commas around.

The educator in your capstone course takes a different approach to peer review. They begin by explaining the purpose for peer review and what they hope you gain from the activity. Then, they explain how the peer review directions have been aligned to the ePortfolio assignment and include criteria that are meaningful to professionals in your disciplinary community along with two blank criteria, which the class will get to determine. Next, you all practice using the peer review directions on an example ePortfolio with space for questions and concerns. After, you apply the criteria to two ePortfolios from your course. The criteria guide you in giving your peers feedback on particular parts of their ePortfolios. As you have questions, you add them to the class’ shared question document, which is reviewed regularly. Finally, you do some reflective writing where you review the feedback you received and begin planning for revisions as needed.

Scenario #3

You are an educator who uses ePortfolios in their own teaching, ensuring students receive both formative and summative feedback. However, a scholar in your field issues a challenge to consider the racial histories that inform and are embedded in common instructional practices, such as evaluation and feedback. To respond to this call to action, you reconsider the mechanisms for providing feedback and evaluating ePortfolios within your course. How might your materials and processes (such as guiding questions, peer review, rubrics, etc.) embed assumptions and values, increase inequity, and marginalize some learners? Using the scholarship of your field, you revise your evaluation practices to include students as active participants by inviting them to design individualized evaluation practices that address their personal, disciplinary, and/or professional goals.


  • Formative assessment: Assessment practices with little or no weight that are designed to introduce or reinforce important aspects in a student’s learning process to gauge progress toward learning outcomes and to identify gaps, incorrect assumptions, or additional support needed to acquire learning outcomes.
  • Summative assessment: Assessment practices used to measure individual student’s learning gains at significant times in a course, module, or other unit of learning.
  • Feedback or feedforward during a course is an important ingredient in assessment (formal feedback) or provided informally to help a student gauge their learning level, what is done well, what needs improvement and gives students an action plan to improve.
  • Self-assessment is when a student develops meta-cognition to measure their own performance against learning outcomes. Practices such as peer evaluation and self-reflection help students improve their self-assessment. This is also linked to self-efficacy in that a student can confidently evaluate their own performance and learning journey.
  • Reflective Practice/Rhetorical Rationale/Letter: A practice or series of practices intended to help (student) writers look backwards at what they have written and forward toward what they can write through the process of revision. Drawing on Schon’s concept of reflection-in-action, rhetorical reflections or Rationales are authors’ attempts to externalize the internal processes of reflection through writing.
  • Evaluation Methods
  • Evaluation: The difference between evaluation and assessment depends on the intended use of the feedback being offered. Evaluation is typically focused on the outcome, whereas assessment is typically focused on the process.


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