The Electronic Portfolio: Key to Successful Transitions
By JoAnn Harris-Bowlsbey, Ed.D.
Kuder, Inc.Vice President of Product Development
The recent recession has underscored the characteristics of the 21st century workplace. Hundreds of thousands of people who thought they had secure jobs have lost them and have been challenged by the need to identify their transferrable skills, develop new skills, and retool their job-seeking skills.
The workplace of the 21st century continues to change quickly and sometimes dramatically as new technologies modify the way work is done, consumers buy less, and work continues to be sent off-shore where it can be done less expensively. Learning to survive in the changed workplace is required by young and older workers alike. Career plans are made to be modified, and workers need to reconfigure themselves often in order to find work.
JoAnn Harris-Bowlsbey, Ed.D.
The portfolio – which literally means a case for carrying loose papers – has received increasing emphasis over the past 20 years as a tool to assist workers to cope with the new reality.
The first portfolios were print-based and offered a file folder with places to record information (such as assessment scores, work experience, extra-curricular activities, etc.) and folder flaps in which to store “loose papers.” Over the years, however, this concept has been increasingly refined as electronic portfolios have become the norm.
Kuder Navigator e-Portfolio
The Kuder e-Portfolio: Backed by Research
The Kuder® Career Planning System (which includes Kuder®Navigator for high school students and Kuder®Journey for postsecondary students and adults) offers users the opportunity to develop a customized e-Portfolio with all of the features described above. The Kuder e-Portfolio essentially constitutes a user’s career plan.
Research has revealed the positive impact of having an education and career plan in place, and the e-Portfolio is one of keys to developing a successful plan. Today, with more adults seeking a job or re-entering education and more traditional-aged students transitioning to higher education, workforce development professionals and educators are looking for user-friendly and innovative ways to help these individuals create their career plans and prepare for the job search.
With a portfolio and career plan in place, individuals are more likely to complete postsecondary education or training. Whether a postsecondary student or an adult seeking a job, having access to a reliable online career planning resource with a capability to develop a career plan can increase retention and help individuals accomplish their plans.
One research study, conducted in South Carolina in 2008, documents the fact that students who used the Kuder® Career Planning System performed better in school, made faster and more congruent career choices with regard to their interests and skills, and transitioned to postsecondary education at a higher rate.
Key Benefits of Electronic Portfolios
They serve as paperless repositories for all information and documents that relate to an individual’s career planning, both educational and occupational.
Assessment results; occupations, schools, scholarships, and jobs under consideration.
Various versions of résumés and cover letters.
Certificates or work samples uploaded via file transfer or scanning.
Data key-entered by the user, such as test scores and descriptions of work experience.
Information and documents can be viewed and edited at any time and from any place with Internet access.
Editing can be done from a computer or from a variety of hand-held devices such as an iPad or a smartphone. From these devices, the portfolio can be printed by sending it to a wireless or traditional printer.
They can be sent electronically to anyone of the owner’s choosing.
A portfolio may be customized for a specific employer by choosing a resume and cover letter that are most appropriate for this employer and perhaps by masking sections of data (such as college entrance test scores, for example) that are not relevant for this recipient.
- Appropriate references for the designated recipient may be selected from a longer list that is resident in the portfolio.
There is flexibility in the way that electronic portfolios can be shared. They may be posted on a private web site, and the recipient may be given the URL for that site; or the portfolio may be sent as an attachment to an e-mail.
After at least a year in postsecondary education, 60.9% of those who used the Kuder system and portfolio had not changed their major, compared to the 22.0% of non-users who had not changed their major. Further, 90.8% of those who used the Kuder system and portfolio in high school successfully transitioned to a technical college and, as of the date of the 2008 study, continued to be enrolled there. This percentage exceeds the national average retention rate of 67%.
A Career Plan and an Electronic Portfolio: A Winning Combination
Having a career plan is one of the leading determinants in making a successful transition to postsecondary education or work and in retention in both secondary and postsecondary education.
Electronic portfolios serve as an ideal place to store the contents of that plan and the accomplishments that support it. They provide the opportunity to modify one’s career plan and provide documentation of related skills over the entire lifespan. They can be customized for different audiences and sent quickly and easily from any device that connects with the Internet. A well-populated electronic portfolio is a critical component in making successful career transitions – whether individuals are doing so by choice or the situation has been forced upon them.