Success rates in non-majors introductory biology courses tend to be lower than those in courses for majors. The use of student learning ePortfolios correlates with increased retention and improved learning. Additionally, when ePortfolios are used for periodic formative assessment, they have been shown to stimulate student response to feedback and improve the quality of student work—both indicators of increased student engagement. In our study, the implementation of low-stake assignments in ePortfolio fostered a dialogue between the instructor and student outside of class time and provided opportunities for formative assessment of individual student and overall class learning prior to larger, high-stakes summative assessments. Furthermore, ePortfolio allowed the instructor to give students feedback on their work, creating opportunities for confirmation of learning or extended learning outside of class. Through intentional and embedded use of ePortfolios, we have created a learning environment that fosters more interaction with course material outside of class, better assignment turn-in rates, and improved exam scores, for increased success rates in the course. These results describe a promising intervention that can improve success rates in introductory biology courses.
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Vol. 79 • No. 6