What is an Integrative MPortfolio?

The Integrative MPortfolio adopted by the College of Education, Health, and Human Services is an integrative learning pedagogy and an accompanying set of open-source portfolio tools that were developed through several years of action research at the University of Michigan. The pilot process involved more than a dozen academic and co-curricular units on several U-M campuses. The pilot addresses the needs for both a student-centered “self-expressive” MPortfolio, and tools that can help gather and aggregate data for assessment purposes. As they create the MPortfolio students learn to:

  • Develop meta-cognitive skills by learning to ask, “Who am I becoming? What and how am I learning? What are my strengths, values and capacities? How do I intend to make a difference?”
  • Understand, retrieve and articulate different types of knowledge
  • Identify, reflect on and synthesize learning that has occurred both within and beyond the classroom (e.g. in clinical contexts, internships and paid work)
  • Develop the kinds of knowledge, skills and awareness needed for professional competence and leadership
  • Connect learning with personal values, a sense of purpose and goals for the future

Students engage in analysis, reflection, feedback and dialogue in order to help them understand the different types of knowledge and insights they’ve gained from academic and other kinds of experiences. They are guided to make connections between the tacit knowledge (i.e. how to negotiate competing interests and agendas) gained from life experiences, and the explicit knowledge (i.e. formal theories and concepts) accumulated in academic courses and field learning experiences. Students then document their learning through the creation of Web pages that become part of their completed MPortfolio.

The most important section of these MPortfolios is the “Work Showcase” which links to a number of “Examples of Work” pages that are organized according to knowledge/skill areas. The other pages include “Philosophy Statement,” “Welcome,” “Goals” and “Supporting Links.” The end result is an integrative MPortfolio that illustrates (primarily through text, images and supporting materials) a student’s knowledge and skills, as well as the values, goals and commitments that underlie his/her work.

The process of creating an MPortfolio is designed to help students retrieve and document different types of knowledge over time, which in turn provides the insights and content they need to create a coherent and compelling product. Engaging in the process and creating the product enhance students’ meta-cognitive capacities by fostering a deep sense of what they have learned and how they can use their knowledge.

The College of Education, Health, and Human Services is adopting integrative MPortfolios for the following reasons:

  • Strengthening and Supporting Integrative Learning Across the Curriculum
    • The CEHHS hopes to use integrative MPortfolios to create an enabling environment for students to track the evolution of their learning, knowledge, skills and capacities. Students will reflect on their experiences and create knowledge artifacts that reflect the principles, methods, theories and student teaching experiences. These artifacts will integrate evidence of the strengths, skills and capacities students have gained from their learning.
  • 2. Supporting Accreditation Needs
    • The MPortfolio activities will be linked to state standards; groups of classes will demonstrate the standards; students will most likely reflect on specific assignments from those classes. For example, a classroom management artifact might include a video, process notes, feedback from a teacher, and the student's own reflection.
  • 3. Life-Long Learning
    • The MPortfolio tools will be available to CEHHS students after they graduate. Ongoing access is intended to support teachers in continuing to capture, reflect on and illustrate their professional development and to promote and support life-long learning.

Adapted from: Peet, M. (in press) 2009. “The Integrative Knowledge Portfolio Process: A Program Guide for Educating Reflective Practitioners and Lifelong Learners,” to be published in MedEdPortal, an on-line peer-reviewed journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges.