Bonsignore: “Career ePortfolios: Recognizing and Promoting Employable Skills” (Chapter 6)

29 Oct

This article talks about the why and how of the “Career ePortfolio” that is being experimented with at the New York City College of Technology. This portfolio, though it can be—and sometimes is—used as a tool for assessment in the classroom, is mostly used as a supplementary information to be included in a resume when students graduate and apply for jobs. The portfolios that the students make collect work that they have done throughout their four years at “City Tech,” and are intended to highlight and develop the professional persona of the student as they enter the job market. In addition to housing the student’s work, the portfolio also holds a “reflective statement” about the student’s “professional goals.” The students are encouraged to use “design elements such as colors, backgrounds, graphics, and fonts that show their work at its best.” In order to facilitate this process, teachers are given some training on portfolios, and the school has also set-up new spaces that make it possible for students to work on these portfolios. These portfolios encourage students to think harder about the identities they’re creating through their writing, and also to think about the audience/s they’re appealing to with their writing. Bonsignore also claims that because the students start to understand how this portfolio will help them in the real world, they’re generally very receptive to using them, and put in quite a bit of effort.


Posted by on October 29, 2013 in Uncategorized


8 responses to “Bonsignore: “Career ePortfolios: Recognizing and Promoting Employable Skills” (Chapter 6)

  1. DB

    October 29, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    Jeff, I see some resonances here between this and the D’Angelo and Maid piece I read. They are interested in exploring how academic expectations and professional/workplace expectations are negotiated by students in a portfolio space, and they focus especially on student desire for more “tools” (software) training. But the tension is the same: the academy and the “real world” (whatever that is) have different values, and this portfolio seems to be a way to try to address one system of values. The academic values, presumably, are addressed in a different way.

  2. E Workman

    October 29, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    The portfolio that you’re describing seems to be what Yancey calls a “web-sensible” portfolio–in the sense that students are encouraged to think about various aspects of design and delivery as they compose the portfolio. The fact that the teachers are given training on portfolios also speaks to Yancey’s question about the effects of digital portfolios on teaching composition. Students’ thinking about the identities they’re composing in their writing also matches nicely with Yancey’s discussion of how the arrangement students choose becomes a function of who they invent, and that who they invent is ultimately who they represent.

  3. brucebowlesjr

    October 29, 2013 at 3:45 pm


    This reminded me of the Good et al. piece that I read. Specifically, Good et al. were using assessment data to communicate writing strengths, weaknesses, and individual skills sets of students entering different disciplines. Your article seems to be promoting something similar–namely, by having these students compose career portfolios, the writing values of that specific discipline are being emphasized.

    Personally, I like the idea of the career portfolio–it seems to have real-world application, which would probably encourage students to be more active in considering audience and, quite possible, put forth more effort.

  4. andrewdavidburgess

    October 29, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    This piece is perhaps complicated by something from Oswal’s “Accessible ePortfolios. Here, he discusses workplace portfolios, about which “researchers in our field have not paid attention close enough to the extended benefits of electronic tools for disabled workers whose physical attributes can often act as barriers between their professional abilities and the employers” (138). Maybe this is one more way to think about workplace portfolios? Oswal also has a lot to say about accessibility and aesthetics and how they pertain to visually impaired users.

  5. jeskew2013

    October 29, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    I read chapter five of the eportfolio book, and the program you describe sounds pretty similar to what the people at IUPUI were doing in chapter five. The difference, of course, is that at IUPUI they were focusing exclusively on English majors, whereas the program you read about is focused on more technical majors.

    Noting the shared goals of these separate e-portfolio programs, it makes me wonder how adapting to eportfolios to transition into professional life differs across disciplines. Not only have the students been studying different subjects, they have also been engaged in different kinds of writing.

    Your program was also based in New York City, an enormous metropolitan city. Meanwhile, IUPUI resides the less-than-impressive city of Indianapolis. Surely the professional opportunities differ in these cities in addition to the majors of the students, so we see again how particular each program is.

    In short, I think considering the differences between these two programs, although they have a shared goal ultimately contributes to an argument for writing assessment as local and context-specific.

  6. amypiotrowski

    October 29, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    I read Ch. 3 from the eportfolio book, and it sounds like your chapter is very similar. In the chapter that I read, students were using the social affordances of portfolios created on WordPress to showcase their projects and skills for potential employers. How were the students in the chapter that you read encouraged to connect with others through their eportfolios.

  7. jasonecuster

    October 29, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    Considering I commented on David’s piece and he’s commenting here, there’s little surprise that you’re seeing me here as well, as I could definitely see some connections between the D’Angelo/Maid piece David read and my own reading by Rice from the ePortfolio book. The obvious bit that comes out of all of this is the tension between professional and academic intentions and aspirations. Rice focused in his piece on reconsidering the Teaching Philosophy as a static 1-2 page document to become hypermediated and allow for a more dialog-driven experience for readers and composers in the genre. The problem, of course, comes from when/if/how these kinds of texts will be received and how they clash against expectations in other contexts. Sure, a hypermediated teaching philosophy might allow the composer to perform their teaching experience and philosophy, but what happens at the traditional school (or application process) that doesn’t allow those kinds of submissions or tosses them on the trash heap in favor of tradition? That’s tricky stuff, and it’s hard to get away from. I see that coming out here as well, since we have perceived values of what the “career” and “professional” world should look like that are supported in institutions and our discipline, but what about beyond the walls of these institutions? I think a portfolio geared towards that purpose is still infinitely better than writing a bunch of random papers and/or deliberately ignoring skills that will help students in other contexts, however, the potential disconnect between our expectations for what helps students on the job market as understood and mediated by the field of composition and what will actually help them on the job market as defined by ideas and concepts not found agreeable in our field is certainly worrisome. We value (in many cases) process and reflection, but to what extent could something as simple as clean, flashy graphics without good purpose be helpful on the job market? Naturally, we shouldn’t just tell students to do that, but to what extent might that really be true on the job market? Professional/career design in composition studies may not translate into professional/career success outside of our classrooms, and while I think the principles and experience are helpful, I certainly do worry about the tensions between what is “professional” in our classrooms and how that translates to the walls beyond it.

  8. profkelp

    October 29, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    I’m definitely starting to see a trend here related to ePortfolios taught at the college level and professional development. Chapter 7 (Middlebrook and Sun) claim that one of the greatest potentials of their new conception, the “blogfolio,” is that it can get you hired fast. But since there is a blogging element to their conception of this ePortfolio type, I think we need to understand that (and they communicate this as well) we still have a ways to go in overcoming the assumptions made abut blog practices in general, and the ramifications that those assumptions could have professionally and academically. Basically, where are we going in terms of how we appraise and assess blogging practices? If we strive to legitimize them in professional contexts, could they eventually be quite powerful?


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