Reimagining the Student Experience

McMaster is developing a new option for students to digitally capture what they learn both inside and outside the classroom.

Students from across the university are participating in a series of focus groups meant to explore ways of enhancing the student experience through the use of a “Learning Portfolio,” an online platform that allows students to plan, record and reflect on a range of educational experiences.

The notion of a Learning Portfolio was among the top recommendations to emerge from the Student Experience Task Force and is a key initiative of Forward with Integrity.

“The Learning Portfolio is more than just a record of student participation. It will encourage deliberate thought and critical reflection.” says David Wilkinson. “It will allow students to integrate a wealth of co-curricular activities into their academic experience and with the help of mentors, guide students toward opportunities that will enable their learning and personal development.”

Students who create a Learning Portfolio will be able to upload images, video, blogs and other digital media files that document their experiences to a customizable space in Avenue to Learn.

Students took part in a recent focus group in Mills Memorial Library, where they had the chance to discuss 'learning portfolios' at McMaster and share ideas with peers.

Students took part in a recent focus group in Mills Memorial Library, where they had the chance to discuss 'learning portfolios' at McMaster and share ideas with peers.

“It’s an innovative tool for students to show their growth and development.” says nursing student and focus group participant Marianne Martin. “The Learning Portfolio is an excellent way to present academic accomplishments and also allows students to showcase their volunteer work and extracurricular activities.”

The Learning Portfolio could also be a practical tool for students when they leave McMaster.

“I would definitely use the learning portfolio to highlight my skills for potential employers,” says Martin.  “I’ll be better equipped to enter the working world with a clear and concrete electronic record of my essential qualities and attributes.”

Led by the Associate Deans (Academic), discussions are under way in each Faculty to consider how the Learning Portfolio could be implemented to serve the unique needs of students in each Faculty.