English Ph.D. Dissertations


Transitioning to E-Portfolios in a First-Year Writing Program

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


English (Rhetoric and Writing)

First Advisor

Kristine Blair (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

Paul Cesarini (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Richard Gebhardt (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Lee Nickoson (Committee Member)


Building off the scholarship of paper-based portfolio systems, electronic portfolios have been a topic of scholarly conversation across the university, particularly in writing studies, education, and distance education. Much of current portfolio scholarship focuses on one of three areas. First, there is increased attention being paid to how instructors can use electronic portfolios in their professional development. Second, there is a focus on reflection of the use of electronic portfolios. And finally, research is being conducted about how electronic portfolios may lead to life-long learning for students. What seems to be missing, however, is a clear discussion of how programs are using electronic portfolios and how the use of such portfolios in a specific program may help other institutions implement new assessment standards. Guided by ethnographically-informed research, and through a combination of observations, interviews, and textual analyses, this dissertation examined a small, private liberal arts university as it transitioned to digital portfolios in their first-year writing program. Working with multiple stakeholders, including the Writing Program Administrator, instructors, students, and portfolio evaluators, this study generates a rich picture of the transition as a way to generate suggestions and implications for others to follow in a similar transition.