Bridging the Gap between Secondary Education and Higher Education

By Cohen, Debra A. | College and University, Summer 2008 | Go to article overview
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Bridging the Gap between Secondary Education and Higher Education


Cohen, Debra A., College and University


An e-portfolio as defined by Lorenzo and Ittelson (2005) is a "digitized collection of artifacts including demonstrations, resources, and accomplishments that represent an individual, group, or institution" (p. 1). This new assessment method enables students to demonstrate their ability to analyze and synthesize information through problem solving, projects, and written journals, not merely on standardized tests. Elementary and secondary schools are moving toward the use of e-portfolios because they offer teachers and students increased accountability, additional opportunities for reflection-based learning, and meaningful engagement of technologically savvy students.

Based on conclusions drawn from a descriptive, exploratory research study regarding the use of e-portfolios in the acceptance process in higher education in New England, actual use, knowledge, and experience of e-portfolios are limited. Overall, respondents believed that e-portfolios are not important and that they probably will not replace traditional admissions methods. The majority of respondents (86%) had little to no knowledge of or experience with e-portfolios. Ninety-three percent of respondents had little to no knowledge of or experience evaluating an e-portfolio. And fully 97 percent of institutions do not accept e-portfolios. (Cohen 2006).

Traditionally, entrance into higher education has been through limited forms of evaluation, such as the sat, act, senior class projects, grade point averages, and class rank, despite their deficiencies. For example, the sat and the act are divorced from students' coursework. Administered to large groups of high school students, the connection between these standardized college admissions tests and an individual student's formal sequence of studies is not easily recognizable.

Presently, there are many alternative high schools, charter schools, and proprietary schools that use alternative requirements for high school graduates. In doing so, they force higher education admissions administrators to base admissions decisions on factors other than an aggregate score, as on the sat or the act. In today's information age, new technological advancements are creating new resources for higher education. One of these is the electronic portfolio (e-portfolio).

E-portfolios offer education reform a significant means for advancement. Given the increased use of technology in the classroom, a predicament for higher education now exists: should e-portfolios be considered along with traditional measures such as sat scores, grade point averages, and class rank in the higher education admissions process?

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