EFOLIO THINKING IN ELEARNING PSYCHOLOGY: PROCESS AND PRODUCT
“eFolio Thinking” has become an innovative elearning teaching strategy for promoting student engagement, critical thinking, personal relevance, motivation and understanding through designed selection, collection, reflection, connection and respect. eFolio thinking is a student-centered experiential method central to developing an ePortfolio identity. The formulation of digital identity appreciates learning as a process and product endeavor. The nature of this orientation encourages deeper learning, ownership and personal engagement. If an efolio teaching approach does result in facilitating students’ engagement in the learning process, perhaps it might contribute to their overall acquisition of specific course learning outcomes and promote higher grades. Critical Thinking papers and Reflection papers were compared and contrasted against objective multiple-choice exams across several large upper and lower divisions elearning psychology classes for three consecutive semesters. The goal of this research was to determine which of these assignments would result in better performance as measured by final grades.
The student samples included separate (2011 Fall N=199), (2012 Spring N=222) and (2012 Summer N=98) students in five lower-division introductory general psychology classes, and three upper-division abnormal psychology classes across three semesters. Although weekly efolio thinking assignments were a requirement for all classes, end of semester reflection papers were contrasted against critical thinking papers between classes specifically regarding their ability to predict final grades over traditional objective exam performance.
In the first two large classes of general psychology combined, results revealed final grades showed small positive relationships for exams (2011 Fall N= 154, r=.20, p<.05) but reflection papers were not at all predictive of final grades (2011 Fall N=154, r=.15, p>.05). In subsequent semesters, when a critical thinking paper was introduced and replaced the reflection paper, just the reverse was found. For lower division classes, critical thinking papers (2012 Spring N=173, r=.33, p<.05) across all general psychology classes were far better at predicting final grades than exams (2012 Spring N=173,r=.13, p>.05), (2012 Summer N=59, r=.32, p<.05, N=59, r=.23, p>.05, respectively). Interestingly, for upper-division abnormal psychology, both reflection papers (2011 Fall N=46, r=.33, p<.05) and critical thinking papers (2012 Spring N=49, r=.39, p<.05, 2012 Summer N=39, r=.40, p<.05) were far better predictors of final grades than exams alone (2011 Fall N=46, r=.08, p>.05, 2012 Spring N=49, r=-.30, p >.05, 2012 Summer N=39, r=.22, p>.05) across all semesters.
These data show efolio thinking papers using either reflection and/or critical thinking were better predictors of final grades than traditional objective exam performance but only for upper division students. However, for lower-division general psychology students, where 90% are non-majors, critical thinking papers were significantly better at predicting final grades than either their reflection papers or exams. It seems critical thinking papers that focused on course content and learning objectives were superior to and better predictors than personal experience reflection papers written by non-major undergraduates.