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Writing Center

College-wide SpEl.Folio Initiative

Mission Statement

The Spelman College Electronic Portfolio Project (SpEl.Folio) develops students' ability to think critically about the connections among their intellectual, professional and personal lives. Each students creates a dynamic web-based composition representing her diverse goals, achievements, and reflections. In this way, students construct and demonstrate their development as lifelong learners. SpEl.Folios assessment on multiple levels: self-assessment by students, course and major-based assessment, and institutional assessment of designated learning objectives.

History of SpEl.Folio at Spelman College

Since 1994, Spelman College’s Comprehensive Writing Program (CWP) has supported an interdisciplinary first-year writing portfolio. Each student’s portfolio contains a variety of essays from her first year at Spelman, as well as reflective writing. Students turn in their portfolios in the spring. The portfolios are assessed by a cross-disciplinary jury of Spelman faculty as well as readers from other institutions of higher learning. The Writing Program sponsors a variety of workshops during the year to help students prepare their portfolios, as well as individual tutoring sessions.

In 2004, the CWP initiated a pilot project to investigate the possibilities of a shift to an electronic version of the First-Year Portfolio. The launch of the pilot was preceded by a series of focus groups with first-year students and faculty across the curriculum in order to assess the effectiveness of the paper-based first-year portfolio and explore student and faculty attitudes toward making a shift to an electronic medium. The major points that arose from the focus groups were that:

  • Students tended to regard the paper-based first-year portfolio as something to “get over with” and not as a tool for ongoing learning.
  • Faculty and students expressed concern that, if an eFolio were required, adequate technical training should be provided.
  • Faculty and students expressed the belief that work in an electronic medium would help foster student engagement (with faculty attitudes being more uniformly positive than students’).

Findings from the focus group sessions helped to inform the design of the 2004 pilot initiative, as did the experience gained by the CWP in the project, funded by the Bush-Hewlett Grant Foundation, titled “Building Virtual Learning Communities.” The key finding from that program was that students and faculty engaging in Web-based authorship should have opportunities to continue these projects for periods longer than one semester (and ideally longer than a year), in order to realize fully such projects’ potential for reflection, revision, and critical thinking. Another outcome of the “Building Virtual Learning Communities” project was the creation of a strong infrastructure of faculty- and student-based mentorship and training. The project’s design of peer-to-peer mentorship and hands-on training has been the element most consistently singled out for positive feedback in participant and external reviews.

Read an article from Across the Disciplines published by Dr. Anner Warner and Dr. Margaret Price about their research of the "Building Virtual Learning Communities" project.

The first year of the pilot project involved assignment of electronic portfolios in one section of First-Year Composition. The second year involved assignment of portfolios in three teachers’ sections (First-Year Composition and Introduction to Computer Science). The third, current, pilot year involves participation by fourteen teachers in various disciplines, including first-year core classes as well as upper-level classes.

Outcomes To Date

Outcomes from the first two years were assessed by means of entry and exit surveys administered to both students and faculty. Findings indicate that engagement did rise among students completing eFolios as compared to paper portfolios; additional outcomes, not anticipated, were that students reported a rise in self-esteem as well as a rise in the number of potential uses they perceived for their portfolios. To read more about project outcomes, see Dr. Margaret Price’s article in the Handbook of Research on ePortfolios.

Continuing Work

The Spelman College eFolio Project (“SpEl.Folio”), a grant-funded initiative currently under review by the Mellon Foundation, is a three-year effort dedicated to using digital technologies to foster students’ ability to think critically about the interconnected elements of their intellectual, professional, and personal development by promoting the opportunity to create a dynamic web-based composition. Each student’s eFolio will be composed of an interconnected set of artifacts representing diverse goals, achievements, and reflections, thereby allowing the student both to construct and to demonstrate her development as a whole person.

The effort focuses not only on student development, but on expanding opportunities for faculty to increase their knowledge of advances in the field and to gain the kinds of hands-on training needed to utilize this pedagogical technique effectively in their specific disciplines. The project builds on past efforts, while strengthening the Spelman College academic-support infrastructure to roll out and implement a campus-wide effort that is integrated into the first-year general core requirements and the majors.

Toward this end, the project is consistent with a larger effort, currently being undertaken by the Provost, to asses and strengthen the general curriculum. The project will also complement and interface with another information literacy project, funded by Mellon and implemented through the Atlanta University Center Woodruff Library. That project, also in a pilot stage, is designed to create a wider awareness and appreciation of the information literacy standards as written and adopted by the Association of College and Research Libraries. Students participating in the pilot will acquire the necessary skills to be successful information seekers and use critical thinking in their efforts to effectively locate, use, and evaluate information resources that are appropriate to research, teaching and learning.

The SpEl.Folio Steering Committee is now working toward implementing this project College-wide, and is collaborating with the Office of the Provost to coordinate its efforts with the review of the College’s Statement of Purpose.

If you have any problems of concerns regarding the eFolio, please contact Melanie McKie at or 404-270-5611.

Contact Us



Location and Hours

Writing Tutorial
Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby, Ed.D. Academic Center
Mon - Thu: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Fri: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Computer Labs
Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby, Ed.D. Academic Center
Mon - Thu: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Fri: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.