Peers and Mentors
A few months ago, the Center for Teaching and Learning, where I worked at LaGuardia, organized a summer institute, a series of meetings that involved ePortfolio leaders from across the country. The main goal was to highlight the emergent ePortfolio pedagogy within the classroom as a pivotal tool in the current higher education system. Part of this philosophy is to acknowledge the ePortfolio—a website that students build where they post their work while in college—as a catalyst for student learning. An opportunity to use an ePortfolio is an opportunity to deepen student reflection.
The practice of ePortfolio is highly effective from a faculty perspective but also from a peer mentor's standpoint. A colleague of mine and I presented in one of the sessions explaining how our roles as peer mentors enhance the effectiveness in using ePortfolios in the classroom.
First, some background. I currently work as an ePortfolio consultant. Working in the classroom with students, I'm able to share with them my experience as a recent college graduate and as a current graduate student. Using ePortfolio as a student at LaGuardia helped map out my educational journey and better clarify my transfer options; thus, I pass that on to students.
One of the most interesting questions we were asked was: what's different from your relationship with students in using ePortfolios from a faculty perspective? Our response was shaped around our proximity with students, not a physical proximity per se, but rather proximity in experiences. When a professor is lecturing a class, it is most of the time likely that not all students will raise their hands to ask a question, there is always a few in the corner who may just not speak up at all. When working in small groups though, students are given the chance to experience a more intimate setting and therefore more likely to speak up and ask questions. In that sense, the time we peer mentors spend with students is similar to a small group work because of that level of proximity we have with them. Besides, students share their own experience and find more familiarity with the mentor as someone who is currently going through the same processes or has just gone through them..
Here I'm sharing the presentation we prepared for the session, too. It will give you an idea of what we do and how important our role is. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below.
I am an ePortfolio instructor working in New York City. I am also a student in the MA program in educational psychology at Hunter College. In my current position, I instruct students how to develop and build their ePortfolio to showcase their academic skills. I also collaborate in professional development seminars with faculty members from various departments on building the curriculum to teach the first year seminar experience. Read more about me.