Shirley Scott is Professor of International Law and International Relations, and Head of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at UNSW Canberra.
Learning and teaching has been integral to Shirley’s career at UNSW and she has made key contributions at University level, nationally, and internationally. Shirley completed a Masters degree in Higher Education in 1999 and in 2009-11 was seconded to the role of Director of Learning and Teaching in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
In that role she developed an effective program for the professional development of tutors, involving participants in workshop as well as individual mentoring. Based primarily on this work and its impact, she was in 2015 made a Fellow of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA).
Shirley was also involved in bringing about change in assessment practices within the Faculty and she introduced into the literature a student-centred definition of feedback. She authored a highly-cited article on the marketization of higher education. Within her inter-disciplinary field of expertise she is the author of a leading textbook used since 2004 in North America, Europe and Asia that helped shape what was at the time an emergent field. The third edition of the textbook was published in 2017. Shirley has received international invitations to teach from her textbook, including from India and China.
At UNSW Canberra Shirley has in her capacity as head of school been involved with the introduction of education focused roles as well as in the introduction of university contributions to a new program of military education. As a Scientia Education Fellow she is leading a project to prepare for the development of an e-portfolio system in the college.
Scholarship on Feedback and Assessment
`Practising What We Preach: Towards A Student-Centred Definition of Feedback’ Teaching in Higher Education 19:1 (2014), 49-57. This received the 2013 UNSW Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences prize for Best SOTL (Scholarship on Teaching and Learning) Publication.
`Quantifying the Assessment Loads of Students and Staff: The Challenge of Selecting Appropriate Metrics’ Journal of Further and Higher Education 39:5 (2014), 699-712.
Scholarship on Higher Education Policy
`The Academic as Service Provider: Is the Customer “Always Right”?’, Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management 21:2 (1999), 193-202.
Scott, Shirley V. International Law in World Politics. An Introduction. Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner, 2004, 2010, 2017
Shirley is the Co-Director of the Scientia Education Academy (July 2019 - present).
Evaluating the opportunities e-portfolios provide for UNSW Canberra
Introduction: E-portfolios are increasingly being used in higher education. The majority of Australian universities have now selected one of the off-the-shelf e-portfolio programs for use; there is an annual conference; and in the ACT there is a new community of practice to discuss e-portfolios.
UNSW Canberra was discussing potential strategic and large-scale educational innovations and in response to a comment I made during a meeting of the College Strategy Group, the Rector expressed an interest in our investigating e-portfolios.
I was aware that the Faculty of Medicine and School of Education have been amongst the leaders in the use of e-portfolios at UNSW. Given my interest in them, although no direct experience, I have taken a leading role in the conversation at UNSW Canberra during 2018.
There is no agreed definition of the term `e-portfolio (Hallam and Creagh, 2010: 181), but typical might be the definition of Abrami and Barrett 2005), who explain that an e-portfolio can be understood at its most basic as a ‘digital container capable of storing visual and auditory content including text, images, videos and sound […] designed to support a variety of pedagogical processes and assessment purposes’. The term can refer both to the product and the process of learning. As a product, the e-portfolio ‘provides a personal space where learners can collect the digital artefacts that present evidence of their experiences and achievements, articulating actual learning outcomes’ (Hallam and Creagh, 2010: 181). As an integral element of the learning process, an e-portfolio ‘allows learners to move beyond what they have learned to consider how they have learned and to understand the connections inherent in the creative process of learning’ (Hallam and Creagh, 2010: 181, emphasis in original).
E-portfolio technology may encourage critical thinking about skills, abilities and professional identities (McAllister and Hauville, 2017: 25). McCowan et al (2005: 43) report on a 2001 study which found that, through use of e-portfolios, students are given ‘more opportunities for creativity, a chance to see how all learning, activities and assignments are linked together [as well as] a very clear picture of their efforts and achievements’.
E-portfolio technology can also be adopted to give students a space to make connections between formal learning and professional development. Lynn McAllister and Kim Hauville (2017) speak of e-portfolios as a technology that enables “real world” learning for students. According to McAllister and Hauville (2017: 20), at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) e-portfolios were adopted in specific units in the Bachelor of Laws ‘to encourage and support students to reflect on and document their skills development, plan for future careers, take responsibility for future learning and development, and to synthesise their learning by making links to theory and practice across the course’.
Results of the Australian ePortfolio Project, launched in 2007 by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC), show that ePortfolios have the potential not only ‘to assist students become reflective learners, conscious of their personal and professional strengths and weaknesses’ but also to make these skills, whether existing or developed through university education, more explicit (Hallam and Creagh, 2010: 186). E-portfolios can be used as a storage and professional showcase tool. In tune with the professionalisation of university studies, e-portfolios can be used ‘to organise, document and reflect on learning outside of the direct program experiences, and to reinforce student accomplishments in a progressive form to potential employers’ (McCowan et al, 2005: 43).
Experience shows that care needs to be taken in the introduction of e-portfolios, with students and staff actively engaged throughout the development, implementation, and enhancement phases. Students need to understand the purpose if they are to engage (McAllister and Hauville 2017:22). According to McAllister and Hauville 2017: 26), e-portfolios should be introduced as a ‘core assessment requirement and never seen as an add-on, as critical reflection requires support and structured teaching approaches to help students write reflectively’. If the e-portfolio is to include reflective writing, students will need to be taught how to do such writing (McAllister and Hauville, 2017: 24).
McAllister and Hauville (2017: 25) identify the following key best practice strategies:
- ePortfolio pedagogy must drive the technology and not the other way around;
- ePortfolio should be embedded in unit/course activities as this clarifies purpose and motivates engagement;
- ePortfolio should be introduced early in the course preferably Year 1 Semester 1;
- ePortfolio tasks should be assessed and effort acknowledged and rewarded;
- Students should be able to ‘see’ where ePortfolio assessments fit within a course;
- ePortfolio assessment should use a range of types e.g. peer feedback;
- Flexible support modes are most effective in supporting diverse cohorts;
- Students require structure and scaffolding to develop reflective writing skills.
Aims: The primary aim was to lead the exploration of e-portfolio use at UNSW Canberra. Although my initial disposition was positive, I was not acting as an advocate so much as a leader in exploring what e-portfolios had to offer, particularly so as to enhance the student experience.
Progress / Outcomes / Next steps:
- Discussion has centered on two perceived benefits that e-portfolios have to offer. First is that it can function as a single source of assessment information/tracking of competencies and learning outcomes, which is particularly attractive to SEIT (School of Engineering and Information Technology) in relation to accreditation. Second is to showcase student learning and the products thereof. At UNSW Canberra this might potentially involve what they have learnt through their military training as well as their university education.
- I spoke with staff, including Gary Velan, ADE, in the Faculty of Medicine regarding E-med and reported back to colleagues.
- I prepared a discussion paper on e-portfolios, inclusive of a literature survey, which was used as background reading for a session at our Strategic Planning Retreat in August.
- Dr Peter Harris kindly attended the UNSW Canberra Strategic Planning retreat and gave a presentation on e-Med.
- The Rector tasked two colleagues with an initial exploration of what opportunities this might provide them. This was presented to College Strategy Group and a decision was taken to have a further conversation with Medicine.
- We held a follow-up meeting with Medicine in November 2018. The decision flowing from this was that we needed a clearer agreed statement of collective objectives.
- I then organised a demonstration of an off-the-shelf Chalk ‘n Wire from New York. I recommended to College Strategy Group that further exploring what our common objectives are needed to be done hand-in-hand with investigation of technical possibilities as the two are inter-connected.
- At a visit to the University of Queensland on 5 December I met with Sam Harris regarding their experience in adopting Chalk `n Wire. This was very fruitful and clarified that their objectives had similarly begun with the `back end’ of the e-portfolio system. I reported back on the outcomes of this conversation.
- The Rector has asked Heads of Schools to nominate a representative to form a committee next year to build on the foundation my work has laid. I hope to stay engaged with the process.
- Abrami, Philip C. and Helen Barrett (2005) ‘Directions for Research and Development on Electronic Portfolios’, Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology 31(3).
- Hallam, Gillian and Tracy Creagh (2010) ‘ePortfolio use by university students in Australia: A review of the Australian ePortfolio Project’, Higher Education Research & Development 29(2): 179 – 193.
- McAllister, Lynn and Kim Hauville (2017) ‘Striving for Sustainability: ePortfolio Pedagogy in Australian Higher Education’ in Jennifer Rowley (ed.), ePortfolios in Australian Universities (Singapore: Springer Singapore), 13 – 32.
- McCowan, Col, Wendy Harper and Kim Hauville (2005) ‘Student e-portfolio: The successful implementation of an e-portfolio across a major Australian university’, Australian Journal of Career Development 14(2): 41 – 52.
UNSW level contributions