AAEEBL Digital Ethics Principles v.2: version 2

Evaluating ePortfolios

ePortfolio evaluation should consider process, inclusion, reflective practice, and alignment with the stated objectives of the context in which the ePortfolio was created.

ABSTRACT: Educators and students benefit from a shared understanding of what content in the ePortfolio will be evaluated as well as the criteria for evaluation. Evaluation mechanisms should be developed in accordance with best practices of ethical ePortfolio pedagogy, including process, inclusion, and reflection. Educators need to make explicit how evaluation criteria align with assignment or course objectives or should develop criteria in collaboration with students. The evaluation process ideally includes both educators and students.

Strategies for applying this principle include…

  • Evaluating ePortfolios through fair, transparent, and inclusive strategies with evaluation measures and procedures that are explicitly communicated to students prior to the assignment. [DEIBD]
  • Developing evaluation mechanisms that are informed by research, aligned to learning outcomes, and include input from multiple and diverse stakeholders, including administrators, faculty, and students. 
  • Creating evaluation criteria that align with disciplinary or professional standards and are meaningful to students beyond the context of a single course.
  • Evaluating ePortfolios through summative approaches to evaluation beyond traditional rubrics/grades, such as labor-based criteria and process documents, to offer more equitable approaches to feedback and grading.
  • Integrating formative reflection strategies throughout to provide opportunities for students to self-assess and receive on-going feedback.
  • Providing educators with access to resources and models that support the design of effective ePortfolio evaluation methods.
  • Offering faculty adequate training to apply evaluation materials to ePortfolios with a knowledge of how bias operates in the rating/evaluation/feedback processes. [Support][DEIBD]
  • Compensating and recognizing individuals who continually ensure ePortfolio evaluation is performed ethically, including but not limited to training and professional development, norming sessions, feedback and listening sessions, etc. [Visibility of Labor]


Scenario #1:

You are a program administrator leading a new ePortfolio initiative at your college. You’ve been asked to develop flexible ePortfolio resources that can be used by faculty across the disciplines, including an ePortfolio rubric. You have a committee composed of educators from different colleges to help you begin this work. As you come together to discuss what you value in ePortfolios, you discover that ideas like professionalism, effective communication, and visual literacy vary significantly from one discipline to the next. A rubric that is too specific might constrain ePortfolio creators or unfairly evaluate them. While you want to create shared materials that can be helpful for students and instructors, you also want evaluation criteria to align to professional and disciplinary expectations. 

To balance these tensions, you choose five general areas (visual literacy, written literacy, technical literacy, professional literacy, and ethical literacy) but then encourage educators to work with students to describe what these areas look like in their disciplinary and professional communities and the best way to evaluate their ePortfolios within the context of the course or program. You create in-class activities that educators can use in their courses to collaborate with students on creating these evaluation materials. 

Scenario #2:

You are a student who is working on an ePortfolio as part of their capstone course in Health and Human Sciences. You have been using the assignment sheet to begin the ePortfolio drafting process but are feeling nervous about whether or not you are on the “right” track and will earn a good grade. Luckily, your educator has planned a peer review, and you are hopeful that this will be an opportunity to get feedback from peers. You are quite nervous though, because the last time you participated in a peer review activity, the educator shared a rubric with you and told everyone to read it and look over their peer’s writing. That was confusing because the rubric had a lot of “teacherly” words, and you weren’t sure how exactly to apply a rubric to writing. When you got your paper back, your peer had only moved some commas around.

The educator in your capstone course takes a different approach to peer review. They begin by explaining the purpose for peer review and what they hope you gain from the activity. Then, they explain how the peer review directions have been aligned to the ePortfolio assignment and include criteria that are meaningful to professionals in your disciplinary community along with two blank criteria, which the class will get to determine. Next, you all practice using the peer review directions on an example ePortfolio with space for questions and concerns. After, you apply the criteria to two ePortfolios from your course. The criteria guide you in giving your peers feedback on particular parts of their ePortfolios. As you have questions, you add them to the class’ shared question document, which is reviewed regularly. Finally, you do some reflective writing where you review the feedback you received and begin planning for revisions as needed.

Scenario #3:

You are an educator who uses ePortfolios in their own teaching, ensuring students receive both formative and summative feedback. However, a scholar in your field issues a challenge to consider the racial histories that inform and are embedded in common instructional practices, such as evaluation and feedback. To respond to this call to action, you reconsider the mechanisms for providing feedback and evaluating ePortfolios within your course. How might your materials and processes (such as guiding questions, peer review,  rubrics, etc.) embed assumptions and values, increase inequity, and marginalize some learners? Using the scholarship of your field, you revise your evaluation practices to include students as active participants by inviting them to design individualized evaluation practices that address their personal, disciplinary, and/or professional goals.


    1. Blum, S., ed. (2020). Ungrading: Why Rating Students Undermines Learning (and What to Do Instead). West Virginia University Press.
    2. Floridi, L. (2018). Soft ethics, the governance of the digital and the General Data Protection Regulation. Philosophical Transactions, 376, n.p. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2018.0081
    3. Kelly-Riley, D. (2012). Getting off the boat and onto the bank: Exploring the validity of shared evaluation methods for students of color in college writing assessment. In A. B. Inoue & M. Poe (Eds.), Race and Writing Assessment (pp. 29-43). Peter Lang Publishing.
    4. Pettifor, J. L., & Saklofske, D. H. (2011). Fair and ethical student assessment practices. In C. Webber & J. Lupart (Eds.), Leading student assessment (pp. 87-106). Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-1727-5_5
    5. Principles for Fair Student Assessment Practices for Education in Canada. (1993). Edmonton, Alberta: Joint Advisory Committee. https://www.wcdsb.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/36/2017/03/fairstudent.pdf
    6. Sanborn, H. & Ramirez, J. (2020). Artifacts in eportfolios: Moving from a repository of assessment to linkages for learning. In M. A. Dellinger & D. A. Hart (Eds.), ePortfolios@edu: What we know, what we don't know, and everything in-between (pp. 193-225). The WAC Clearinghouse: University Press of Colorado. https://wac.colostate.edu/docs/books/portfolios/chapter10.pdf
    7. Schon, D. A. (1984). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action (Vol. 5126). Basic books.
    8. Slade, C. (2017). Using eportfolios to strengthen student identity verification in assessment: A response to contract cheating. In ePortfolios Australia 2017 Forum, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, (27-34). 20-21 September 2017.
    9. The National Writing Project MAP Group. (n.d.). Developing domains for multimodal writing assessment: The language of evaluation, the language of instruction. In H. A. McKee & D. N. DeVoss (Eds.) Digital Writing: Assessment and Evaluation (n.p.). Computers and Composition Digital Press. 
    10. Torre, E. M. (2019). Training university teachers on the use of the ePortfolio in teaching and assessment. International Journal of ePortfolio, 9(2), 97-110. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1237448.pdf
    11. Wahleithner, J. M. (2014). The National Writing Project’s MAP: Development of a framework for thinking about multimodal composing. Computers and Composition 31(1), 79-86. 

You can view these and other references connected to this topic in our library, and export them to your own reference manager.

This document was created by the AAEEBL Digital Ethics Task Force.

  Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

This page has paths:

Contents of this path:

This page has tags:

This page references: