University Honors ProgramUniversity of Cincinnati

University Honors Program

Learning Portfolios

A learning portfolio is a purposeful collection of student work that exhibits a student’s effort, progress, achievements and competencies gained during a course or time in college. It provides a richer picture of learning through an efficient, dynamic and integrated process. 

The University Honors Program’s vision for learning portfolios is to establish a best practice model that engages students in:

  • Actively reflecting on collegiate experiences;
  • Identifying linkages between curricular and co-curricular involvement;
  • Integrating learning across experiences;
  • Evaluating aspects of experiences as they relate to academic, personal and professional identities; and
  • Communicating the integration of learning to various university audiences.

Learning portfolios are a key tool in Integrated Core Learning (ICL). ICL is the University's approach to integrating students' General Education, major/minor coursework and/or other curricular and co-curricular activities. The University Honors Program is among the first university-wide programs using electronic learning portfolios. 

Beginning in fall semester 2012, the approach to building honors learning shifted. All students now have the option to build and maintain their learning portfolios through other web-based platforms, including blogs. More information can be found in a special FAQ page.

University Honors students who entered the program between fall 2008 and winter 2012 were required to maintain an e-portfolio using Nuventive iWebfolio. This platform provides a secure and efficient means for students to build web-based learning portfolios. These students can continue to use iWebfolio to maintain and further develop their portfolios. However, these students can also now choose to use alternate platforms continue to maintain and further develop their learning portfolios.

University Honors' learning portfolio philosophy is influenced by John Zubizarreta's 2004 book, The Learning Portfolio:  Reflective Practice for Improving Student Learning.  According to Zubizaretta, the learning portfolio provides a structure for students to reflect on their learning over time to "develop the aptitudes, skills, and habits that come from critical reflection" (p. 15).  Within the community of learners that is the University Honors Program, we place importance on the opportunity to share your learning with peers, faculty, advisors and others. Your learning portfolio should capture essential learning experiences. Over time, students who are engaging in the learning portfolio process will develop increased capacity for reflection and integration. In turn, students with well-developed learning portfolios are better able to explain the impact of their experiences and knowledge, skills and attitudes they have developed from those experiences, and how that relates to their academic, personal and professional development.

References & Resources

Chen, H. L, & Penny Light, T.  (2010).  Electronic Portfolios and Student Success, Effectiveness, Efficiency, and Learning.  Washington, DC:  Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Lorenzo, G. & Ittelson, J. (2005). An overview of e-portfolios. Educause Learning Initiative Paper 1: 2005.  Retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI3001.pdf.

Penny Light, T., Chen, H. L., Ittelson, J. C.  (2011)  Documenting Learning with ePortfolios:  A Guide for College Instructors.  San Francisco, CA:  Jossey-Bass Publishing Company.

Zubizaretta, J. (2004).  The Learning Portfolio: Reflective Practice for Improving Student Learning.  Bolton, MA:  Anker Publishing Company, Inc.

Student Perspective
"I really wanted to make my portfolio usable for showing to future employers/applying for internships, etc., and I found this is a great way to remember and document everything I have done in college."
~Mahima Venkatesh, Biological Sciences, Class of 2014

Featured Learing Portfolios
View featured University Honors learning portfolios created by UHP students.

UHP Learning Portfolios in the News
UHP advisors Erin Alanson and Jessica King are featured in an article in EdTech Magazine, sharing their thoughts on learning portfolios and benefits to students.