ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students in Australian universities: Final report 2015

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Rowley, Jennifer
Dunbar-Hall, Peter
Blom, Diana
Bennett, Dawn
Hitchcock, Matt
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This report presents the findings of a 30-month project at four Australian universities, where we documented the impact of student electronic portfolio use on teaching and learning in music and other creative and performing arts. From November 2011 to April 2014, the creative and performing arts ePortfolio project (CAPA-eP) has refined and validated ePortfolio practices to support and enhance quality learning and teaching by university staff. Various terms are used for electronic portfolios, among them ‘e-folio’, ‘e-portfolio’, ‘i-folio’, ‘i-portfolio’, ‘web-folio’’. This report uses the term ‘ePortfolio’ to cover all of these terms. Researchers from Curtin University, Griffith University, The University of Sydney, the University of Western Sydney used and evaluated ePortfolios in their teaching of music and other creative and performing arts during the 30-month period. In addition to investigating the effects of ePortfolios on students, their identity, and the enhancement of learning in a technology environment, we report the impact on teachers and their responses to teaching through the use of ePortfolios. The ways in which students’ learning and academics’ teaching respond to the use of ePortfolios differ between the universities: each has different degrees in these disciplines and different policies and uses for ePortfolio based work. The ePortfolio project was driven by the learning process rather than the technological tool and it is expected that the findings of this study can inform future curriculum, policy and practice for creative and performing arts students in Australian tertiary institutions. The creative application and development of an ePortfolio as a pedagogic innovation in learning and teaching in higher education lies in strategies that students acquire for selecting authentic evidence to document achievements and skills as graduates. ePortfolio development involves problem solving, decision-making, reflection, organisation, and critical thinking by students developing a learning ‘story’ that accurately represents skills learnt and competencies developed. This report documents the pedagogic and technological undertaking of ePortfolio development for creative and performing arts students and explores how student-artists perceive themselves, and their choice of evidence selected to showcase development; this highlights aspects of artistic identity versus professional career identity, and the ways in which these different identities are engaged during ePortfolio construction and, subsequently, when an ePortfolio is used to represent a student’s profile. The most significant outcomes are: a community website for exchanging information about ePortfolios among the wider public (http:/www.capaeportfolios.ning. com); an open-source website to provide practical assistance for university students and staff in designing and using ePortfolio (http:/www.eportfolioassist.com.au); national and international refereed conference presentations, refereed journal papers, and book chapters (see Appendix A); two student encounter days focusing on student-led presentations of their own ePortfolios and including staff professional learning sessions. This report summarises data from the experiences of academics and students where an ePortfolio has been implemented into curriculum for creative and performing arts degree programs from November 2011 to March 2014 (Table 1). The results show that ePortfolios allow students to demonstrate their artistic capabilities, and increased their ability to plan, implement and assess their learning reflectively and to understand documentation relevant to performing arts careers. Students developed greater competencies in their educational beliefs, pedagogical skills, university generic attributes, technological expertise, and ability to address the parameters commonly used by employer groups and professional bodies. Through exploring each institution’s experience, we found that ePortfolio creation allows students to achieve a demonstration of artistic capabilities in performance, music technology, musicology, composition and writing. We showed that students increase their ability to plan, implement and assess their learning reflectively and to understand documentation relevant to a career. An ePortfolio is a valuable tool to document students’ learning and to use this for future employment as a graduate. The literature published from the project and the case studies demonstrate an overall agreed intention to implement ePortfolio with students of music and the creative arts. ePortfolios are beneficial to students in many ways, although the approach differs at each institution. In individual subjects, ePortfolios are a tool for assessment, for encouraging student interactions, and for the collation of small, discrete tasks through which achieving the objectives of a subject can be seen from a student perspective. The role of an ePortfolio and its use in music and other creative and performing arts areas in each of the universities is explained in Chapter 1. Chapter 2 sets out the approach and provides a selection of significant literature that framed the project. In Chapter 3 we document the data and results from both students and staff members using ePortfolios in their teaching and learning, and reveal changes to teaching and learning as a result of ePortfolio. Comments derived from semi-structured interviews with both students and staff members are included. The results of the project indicate how teaching in music and other creative and performing arts can benefit from the incorporation of ePortfolios into tertiary teaching and learning. The conclusory Chapter 4 describes how the use of ePortfolios relates to changes in assessment procedures by staff, of how it demonstrates the longitudinal nature of study in music and other creative and performing arts, the ability of ePortfolios to provide holistic views of university learning, and the significance to staff and students of ePortfolios as representations of the multiple identities that music students develop during their studies.

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© 2016. With the exception of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, and where otherwise noted, all material presented in this document is provided under Creative Commons Attribution-‐ ShareAlike 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/).
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Rowley, J; Dunbar-Hall, P; Blom, D; Bennett, D; Hitchcock, M, ePortfolios for creative arts, music and arts students in Australian universities: Final report 2015, 2016