Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Diagnostic Digital Portfolio (DDP)?
Essentially, the Diagnostic Digital Portfolio is a vehicle students and faculty use for the selection of key performances (samples of student achievement) that enable reflection and analysis of each student's learning patterns.
Technically, it is a web-based, relational, searchable database of selected assessments and assignments from each student that can be accessed anytime and anyplace. It is a way to store and make more accessible the criteria students need to meet, the feedback they receive, and their self assessments from courses, internships, and external assessments. It also stores results from key inventories students take such as the Kolb Learning Style Inventory.
What does it look like?
After entering a user name and password, students find themselves at the matrix view of their DDP, My Portfolio. This opening view of the key performances that a student has completed* is shown in a matrix format, listing levels 1 to 4 of the eight abilities. Depending on the key performances a student has completed, additional matrices could be available.
Students can click on any completed key performance to view a description of the design of the key performance, the criteria, self-assessment and/or feedback. By clicking on a completed key performance, they will find the status for their performance and for each of the abilities and levels associated with that key performance.
*In order to be listed as completed, feedback and a self assessment must be uploaded to the Key Performance Design. The actual performance is not required to be included.
How is it organized?
Key Performances in the DDP are organized in matrices. The default matrix is Alverno's eight abilities levels 1 - 4. In the sample above, the student has completed Key Performances for the Abilities Matrix, Computer Science (Major), English (Major) and Nursing Level 5 Junior year.
Clicking on a matrix, for instance English, would bring up that matrix with the Advanced Outcomes for an English major.
The DDP is also organized by tabs on the top of the screen. Each of these tabs has specific functions and screens associated with them. In addition to the My Portfolio tab, these include:
Students use the My Work section to upload self assessments and check on the status of their key performances in the DDP.
In the My Work> Self Assessments>To Do area they can access the design of the key performance for which they want to upload a self assessment. They can also check on the key performances submitted or completed.
Students use the Key Performances tab to locate Key Performances to complete. Clicking on a Key Performance brings up a description of the Key Performance and a button to add the Key Performance to the My Work tab.
My Resources section is controlled entirely by the student. Predefined categories have been provided to suggest the kinds of files a student might want to upload and keep:
- Supplemental Academic Records, Inventories
- Community/Professional Involvement
- Goal Setting
- Career Research and Contacts.
There is also a category, Private Workspace, that is viewable only by the student.
The Reference section contains general reference information for the student including the Alverno Self Assessment Framework, all Major and Support Advanced Outcomes, Matrix Information on the definitions for levels 1-4 of the eight abilities, and an email link to the system administrator that allows easy communication with questions or changes in student information.
This section also has links to various templates and criteria sheets that students will use in courses. Also included is information about what file formats are standard at Alverno and compatible with the Diagnostic Digital Portfolio program.
What aspects of a student's performance does a "key performance" include?
Because the purpose of the Diagnostic Digital Portfolio is reflection and analysis of learning patterns, a key performance always includes
- A description
- The student's self assessment
- Instructor's/assessor's feedback.
The student's work can also be attached. For example, a student's word-processed paper and PowerPoint presentation for a speech could be included in the key performance. Video and/or audio clips can also be attached to support self assessment or demonstrate an aspect of the work. The abilities that this key performance incorporates are also identified.
Who has access to it?
Primarily, the student has access to the developing series of required and selected key performances. Because of the collaborative nature of our learning community, the faculty and appropriate staff, whose role is to assist the student with their development, have always had access to their paper and video portfolios in their major department and in the Assessment Center. The same applies to the digital portfolio. No one else has access unless the student provides it to them.
In addition to its contribution to the student's ongoing academic development, the portfolio provides helpful information for the faculty members who write the narrative statement that is part of the student's transcript.
The student also has a private work and storage area for any performances and related materials that they decide to file for their own reference in the portfolio. This area is accessible only to the student.
How can students use it?
Students use the DDP to analyze their academic development, making connections among learning experiences in terms of college-wide abilities and departmental outcomes. These connections may reach across the disciplines, in and beyond the classroom, and over the course of a program or major. Specifically, a student can use the DDP to do the following:
- Submit a self assessment of a key performance to an instructor or assessor
- Attach work samples (text, video, or other digital files) to a key performance
- Review feedback on a key performance
- Search for and analyze patterns in past key performances, both through independent reflection and formal "integrating moments" embedded in the curriculum
- Build an individualized map of the student's progress and plan for their future, whether in terms of area of study, co-curricular accomplishments, or personal and professional goals
How can faculty use it?
Faculty use the DDP as a teaching tool as well as a source of information for advising, curriculum design, professional development, and program assessment. For faculty, the DDP provides not only a means of assisting students to analyze their performance but also an open, collaborative space in which they can share with colleagues on campus information about their teaching and student learning.
In teaching, faculty use the DDP to do the following:
- Assess and respond to student work-a key performance itself and/or a student's self assessment of their key performance
- Identify patterns in the past performance of individual students (or an entire class) so teaching responds more directly to students' learning needs
- Structure "integrating moments" within a course or program in which students analyze their past key performances in order to identify patterns in their learning and make plans for their continued development.
As advisors, curriculum designers, professional educators, and program assessors, faculty use the DDP to:
- Help students identify and act on their learning needs and educational aspirations as they are reflected in key performances on the DDP
- Analyze information about student performance across courses, Alverno abilities, programs, or majors to support program assessment and curriculum development
- Share best practices in assessment design and responses to student performance
- Browse reference materials, such as criteria for Alverno abilities, advanced outcomes for majors and support areas, and Alverno's self assessment framework
So is the DDP just about student learning?
Though its main purpose is to assist students and faculty to focus on each student's learning and to ascertain underlying patterns that will help each student develop further, it has other functions as well.
- Because the database is relational and searchable, it can be used by faculty for program assessment purposes
- Since students and faculty can code the entries in the DDP in various categories, students can select "best work" samples from the DDP to showcase their work
- This same coding practice and a major menu feature in the DDP called Professional and Personal Development, enable students to use the portfolio to create an electronic resume.
- Another menu item in the portfolio allows it to be used as a reference tool for students and faculty. The reference section includes definitions of the abilities, statements of all the outcomes of all majors and support areas, and a description of the self assessment framework.
- The DDP can also be used for faculty development. As more samples of student work, faculty designed criteria, faculty feedback, student self assessments are stored in the portfolio, both discipline and ability departments can use selected samples of each of these to help new faculty develop expertise in designing assessments, articulating criteria, and providing meaningful feedback
- Because it provides concrete examples of the assessment as learning process at the college, the DDP also serves as a vehicle that communicates and makes more visible the college's learning and assessment principles in action
How does it compare with other portfolios?
Alverno's DDP is an institutional database with individual student learning as its primary focus. Its central purpose is to make student learning and development over time more visible-to faculty, advisors, administrators, and, most important, to students themselves.
Alverno's DDP brings together the functions and purposes of a variety of portfolios (promoting student reflection, goal-setting, and self-presentation; supporting assessment of generic abilities, subject-area knowledge, and academic programs) in the context of the college's ability-based curriculum. This means that students are the primary users and beneficiaries of the DDP, using it as a tool to map their own progress as learners in terms of college-wide abilities and departmental outcomes.
As an institutional database, the DDP also provides faculty, advisors, and administrators with information to help them guide individual students and chart curricular and institutional change.
What reference material does the DDP provide?
The DDP provides ready reference to students, faculty, and staff. The definitions of each of the eight abilities and the criteria for each level are linked from the students' matrix tab for easy access.
The DDP also includes a reference tab on both the student and faculty sides. Specifications for file attachments within the program are defined here. Currently this area also includes links to: the ability definitions and levels, the self assessment framework, and the advanced outcomes for all majors and support areas. It also includes a link to templates such as the advising planning document and the Kolb Learning Style Inventory and Strong Interest Inventory templates for digitizing results of these inventories to upload.