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Unlocking the Pedagogical Potential of ePortfolio: Connecting Biology and Students’ Lived Experiences - Biology, LaGuardia Community College
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Unlocking the Pedagogical Potential of ePortfolio: Connecting Biology and Students’ Lived Experiences - Biology, LaGuardia Community College


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Unlocking the Pedagogical Potential of ePortfolio: Connecting Biology and Students’ Lived Experiences …

Unlocking the Pedagogical Potential of ePortfolio: Connecting Biology and Students’ Lived Experiences
Biology, LaGuardia Community College

“Collect, select, reflect, connect” are inherent characteristics of ePortfolio that make it a valuable educational tool.
However, ePortfolio can only succeed in fostering connection if faculty intentionally design strategies to support
integrative learning. Two innovative uses of ePortfolio in connecting students with the lived experience will be presented: an assignment that fosters integrative learning in
biology and the programmatic incorporation of ePortfolio to promote connection.
• Thomas Onorato, Assistant Professor of Natural Sciences

Published in: Education

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  • 1. Unlocking the Pedagogical Potential of ePortfolio: Connect ing Biology, Students and the Lived Experience Dr. Thomas M. Onorato Assistant Professor of Biology LaGuardia Community College MAKING CONNECTIONS 4/30/10
  • 2. Assignment to foster connectivity & integrative learning Connecting a biology major through ePortfolio
  • 3. Connections
    • Biology
    • Student’s self
    • Students family, friends, culture
    • Other students
    • Real world/lived experience
    • Other courses, current semester & beyond
    • Career goals and everyday lives
    • Professor
  • 4. Part 1
    • Write an essay that contains the following 3 parts (label each part with a separate heading)  [1-2p]
    • Recall the details of the occurrence (at the time when you first became aware of the disease).  Be as descriptive as possible .
    • B) EMOTION
    • Recall your emotional state at the time.  How did you feel regarding that experience?  How did you think others felt? (doctors, friends, family, culture, etc)
    • Reflect on that experience in hindsight.  What might have you done differently?  How has that event shaped you?  Do you think you and other were properly informed?
  • 5. Part 2
    • Research and write about the biology behind that disease.  [1-2p]
    Part 3 Write a reflection on your first essay from part 1 after having gained an understanding of the biology.   Try to answer the following in the perspective of having this scientific knowledge.  [0.5-1p] - Would you have felt differently? - Would you have changed anything or done anything differently? - How important is an understanding of science when faced with such a situation? - What advice would you give to others who may be in a similar situation?
  • 6. Part 4
    • Review all your classmates work and choose 5 projects that you felt the most connected/interested in or had the greatest impact on you.   [1-2p]
    •      - Identify a common pattern/theme. 
    •      - What have you learned from other students’ and
    • your work? 
    •      - What connection do you see between your
    • Microbiology class and other biology classes and
    • non-science classes you have taken?
    •      - How could this knowledge help you in your
    • future career at LaGuardia and after you
    • graduate LaGuardia?
    • In this assignment I am going to write about diabetes which is the disease that my mother has … My father call my mother in Mexico and told her that I moved out of the apartment. This news really shocked my mother . and she had to go to a hospital, where the doctors told her that she had diabetes. That was the first time we became aware of this disease in my mother.
    EMOTION I felt very bad about it, I felt that I was the one that caused my mother this disease . My conscience often reminds me how this disease became present in my mother. REFLECTION Now I reflect on this event and I think that it could have been avoided. Now I try to all the time when I call my mother give her good news , to make her happy, to try to restore in some way my mistake.
  • 8. Part 3
    • After I studied a litter deeper about what are the causes of diabetes, I understood that my mother was diagnosed with diabetes because she already had many factors that pre-disposed her to the disease … Ethnic background … Overweight … Pregnancy Maybe the shocked that I caused to her was like a little push for the disease to expressed. Although I was not the direct cause of my mother ’ s disease I still feel bad about it.
    • In conclusion, I believe that enough understanding of medical conditions is necessary to not to charge all the guilt on one person when maybe that person was not the only cause of the disease . In my case, I feel a lot better now that I understand that it was not only because of me
  • 9. Part 4
    • After reading my classmates ’ work, I understood that every person had experience with diseases either themselves or people they know had been sick . In my case I wrote about diabetes because it is the disease that my mother was diagnosed with and Student X also had an uncle who had diabetes .
    • Something that most of my classmates mentioned and agreed on is that it is very important to understand the biology behind the diseases we are faced with in order to know how to treat or get treatment for the disease sooner. This is what I learned from my classmates work.
  • 10. Microbiology Part 3
    • Unlike my prior understanding of the disease AIDS, I, now comprehend the nature of the ailment. As a child, I knew the disease AIDS to be comparable to a curse or a plaque . This in part is due to the fact that my peers and other people in my surrounding also viewed the disease in the same manner. Now that I comprehend many of the characteristics of the disease, I understand that it is not a curse; however, it is the work of a deadly virus . I had a strong negative emotion regarding the disease when I had pictured it as if it was a curse, for to be cursed is to be under the wrath of a higher power . Now that I know enough details about the disease, I am aware that it is not indeed a curse. I am convinced that had I known what I know, now, my perception and my very behaviors would have been different. One of the major differences that would come to be had I known what I now know is that I would have embraced UNCLE in many areas that I did not . Instead I would have viewed his case of suffering from HIV as been the same as suffering from a dangerous cancer.
  • 11. Microbiology Part 4
    • One way such difference can be depicted is clearly discernable in the topic of the stories that they tell. For instance, one among the stories is about a love one that caught tuberculosis . Two others are about a patient and a boyfriend of a friend who caught HIV . Another is about friend who caught meningitis . While these stories differ, most of them have a common theme.
    • One of the main themes that is common in most of the stories is, inequality and disease . This theme is evident in the many ways that people are treated different due to nature of the disease that they are acquired. In the story Student X tells us, she mentions about a patient who was HIV positive. She states “ After learning that the patient was HIV-positive, the physician told me that we would exclude the woman from participating due to her HIV-positive status”. Student Y tells us of a similar theme. He states, “ I then realized that the nurse refused to take this patient maybe because of his HIV diagnosis . She couldn't say it directly because it would violate the regulation.
  • 12. Microbiology Part 4
    • After reading several of my classmate’s e-potfolio projects, I discovered a few commonalities. Specifically, everyone who has been confronted with microorganisms in some way or another has been enveloped by fear . In many of the portfolios that I read, the theme was familiar: our health or the health of a loved one was threatened by a microorganism. Both fear and helplessness come from not being knowledgeable. After doing this project and finishing microbiology class, we are more knowledgeable and therefore can be less fearful.
    • There is a fundamental connection between microbiology and other biology classes. This connection can be seen with the idea of structure and function. Each and every minute structure is made to serve a particular function. For instance, in human biology and anatomy and physiology we learn about cells. All living things are made of cells. This concept will help me in my career and throughout my life. Especially the idea that we are all so fundamentally similar and we all deserve to be treated (with medicine and otherwise) equally.
  • 13. Fall 2009 DATA SCB115 n = 23 SCB260 n = 34 F1 (21) F2 (13) Total refers to all 3 individual sections averaged 1,2 (below); 3 (average), 4-5 (above)
  • 14. Did the doing the ePortfolio assignment increase your understanding of Biology?
  • 15. Has this ePortfolio assignment connected you with your past?
  • 16. Has this ePortfolio assignment connected you with your classmates?
  • 17. Has this ePortfolio assignment connected you with science?
  • 18. Has doing this ePortfolio assignment strengthen your belief that understanding science is important in our society?
  • 19. Overall, rate you experience with this ePortfolio assignment?
  • 20. Qualitative Data (Fall II 2009)
  • 21. General Comments
    • I appreciated being able to express my own personal experiences and sentiments …
    • a "personal touch" to the information often helps me remember it better in the future …
    • Believe it or not, I actually rather enjoyed doing this assignment and I didn't dread when parts of the assignment were due, but rather looked forward to it …
  • 22. Understanding Biology/Micro
    • I found myself orginally looking for information on S. pneumoniae and slowly but surely wandering off topic to pursue other interests pertaining to micro. When I got a piece of information on one thing, it would lead me to yet another question and I would go ahead and research that because I simply needed to know and so I gained a lot of knowledge on microbiology thanks to this assignment !
  • 23. Connecting w/ the lived experience
    • after completing this ePortfolio project, I felt I have learned how microbiology applies to our real life.
    • this assignment definitely helps us to integrate the knowledge we have learned in lectures with practical application
    • this project build up a knowledge hierarchy of biology, and completes our understanding of general biology and microbiology.
    • it helps us build an integrated knowledge system.
  • 24. Connecting w/ the lived experience
    • the ePortfolio project has allowed me to connect with my classmates in such a way that I never experienced before. In reading everyone's project, I was able to see how microbiology plays out in the "real world" that is something you can't get by reading a textbook.
    • by posting and sharing students' experiences, it facilitated my learning more about microbiology. I was able to learn more about the etiology of certain diseases and illnesses, for example, E. coli can be one of the causative agents for UTIs.
    • it helped me understand microbiology better because I was able to put a face to the science, so to speak
  • 25. ePortfolio Comments
    • incorporating the use of ePortfolio made it more interesting than typing up a page. It gave us a bit more opportunity to be creative and add our own flair to it.
    • during the last assignment I finally saw the benefit in using ePortfolio, I was able to learn how several diseases and microorganisms affected my classmates and their families
    • through the use of ePortfolio I was able to acquire a lot of information regarding my classmate's experiences with love ones who are actually diagnosed with HIV. This gives a great picture of the disease.
  • 26. CONNECTING a MAJOR Ideas for the new Biology Program
  • 27. Programmatic & General Goals
    • I want students to be able to interpret data and see the bigger picture
      • Link biology courses with the scientific method
    • Address several core competencies through integrative learning
      • My ultimate goal is to design several dynamic assignments that can stand independently yet act as a glue to form a cohesive whole.
    • All Bio Majors will be required to create and share an ePortfolio from Day 0
  • 28. Preliminary idea of how Digication will play a role in the new Biology major
  • 29. SUMMARY
    • Assignment connected students to biology & lived experience
    • Assignment is adaptable
    • ePortfolio has vital role in enhancing the written assignment & connection
    • Potential exists for ePortfolio to foster connectivity & integrative learning within an entire major