Evaluating the use of a career ePortfolio in the development of business students' professional identities
Place of Publication
School of Business and Law
The relationship between ePortfolios and the development of professional identities and graduate employability is of growing interest in Higher Education. This paper presents the findings from a research project which used online surveys to examine first year, undergraduate business student views of the relevance of a career ePortfolio assessment item to develop, reflect upon and showcase the employability skills core to their unit and its role in the development of their professional identity. It also explores students' experiences of creating an ePortfolio, focussing on the ease of use and appropriateness of both the Pebble Pad platform and customised teaching and learning resources. Overall the findings indicate that if the assessment item and teaching and learning resources are structured appropriately then ePortfolios can be a place where career management skills and professional identity formation can begin to develop. In completing the requirements of nine folio pages, students made comments that it assisted in the development of an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses in relation to employability skills; the reflective practice requirement assisted in the development of the specific skill of self-awareness; and, they were able to develop their career management skills. To assist these students in the creation of their ePortfolios, the majority of whom are using the software for the first time, the unit coordinator has developed a range of teaching and learning resources. Of these resources, students identified the most useful to be the "hands-on" activities undertaken in class with the lecturer and the instructional guide. Students also made positive comments in regards the suitability of the software itself in that it was easy to use, appropriate and professional, and it allowed for the organisation and structuring of ideas/work. There were some negative responses about technical issues and understanding how to use the software, but these were quite limited; some students made suggestions on how the software could be improved in terms of functionality. When asked whether they would use an ePortfolio to showcase themselves to an employer in the future, many students responded positively in that they would definitely, or probably, do so. Importantly, although this is a small-scale study, these findings show a willingness and an interest by this cohort to further engage with digital identity formation and representation and should be of interest to all educators seeking to develop the professional identity of their students.