Digital Leading and Learning · EPortfolios · Innovation Plan · Technology in Education

Action Research and ePortfolios

Kelly Trupe, Ryan King, and I have worked in this course to develop an action research plan to aid in our successful implementation of our innovation plan. While our plan has developed and shifted over time,the overall goal has remained the same: we want to implement school and curriculum-wide use of learning ePortfolios at Owen J. Roberts High School. Below are the three areas that we have most recently looked at: our action research outline, the newest literature review to support our action research question, and the timeline for implementation and research. 


What is the topic of your action research? Reflection is a key component for deep learning and this is exactly what we hope to instill within our students through the implementation of ePortfolios. Our deep learning goal is to use ePortfolios to help students become independent, intrinsically motivated learners, so focusing our action research on reflective learning in ePortfolios seems like the perfect topic to consider.
What is the purpose of your study? When we began this program and were asked to choose a topic for our innovation plan, we immediately agreed on ePortfolios because our current portfolio system is ineffective and restrictive.  We created a video promoting our idea that accurately reflects the students’ opinions of the value of our current system. These students, mostly 12th graders, were both unaware that they had portfolios and uninterested in looking at or reflecting on their previous work. This reaction and disconnect helped us determine the purpose of our study: to find out if implementing reflection within ePortfolios will positively impact 12th grade engagement.
What is your fundamental research question? Our fundamental research question is: What impact will the reflective learning process in ePortfolios have on student engagement in 12th grade college prep English classes? This question will be researched using the twelfth graders that we’re piloting our ePortfolio initiative with right now to find out if, as they create content and reflect on their learning, there is a positive impact on engagement. This question addresses a realistic classroom issue, is of interest to us, and is important for a variety of reasons, such as gaining and sustaining stakeholder support (Mertler, 2016, p. 67).
What is the most appropriate type of data to collect? What is your research design? Qualitative, quantitative both (mixed-methods) Why? The most appropriate type of data for us to collect is qualitative data. We decided to use a qualitative approach because our research question is open ended, broad, holistic, and open for interpretation (Mertler, 2016, p. 73).  Because the data will be collected in our classrooms, over a defined period of time, by the three of us who are implementing ePortfolios in our twelfth grade classrooms, it is best to follow the case study design (Mertler, 2016, p. 79). Qualitative research using the case study design will allow us conduct the best in depth analysis of the ePortfolio initiative at Owen J. Roberts High School.
What types of measurement instruments will you use? In our classrooms, it will be extremely important to collect the most relevant data. We plan to primarily use four major kinds of data: surveys, interviews, observation, readily available data (reflections and artifacts) (Ferrance, 2000, p.11). We have chosen these data types because they will be the most useful to us for immediate feedback and response time. When surveying students, we will do both anonymous and named polls so that students can feel the flexibility to be honest and so that we have the most objective feedback. However, it might be important to know the name of the responder so that we can compare their feedback to their specific portfolios. As the teachers who will be implementing the ePortfolios in class, our observations, as well as the reflections and artifacts from the students will be equally important in analyzing the effectiveness of our process.
What is the focus of your literature review? Our literature is going to focus on ePortfolios. We have outlined our themes and subtopics below. We used the design template from Mertler’s (2016) action research text to help develop the outline below.

Theme: Reflective learning

Subtopic: The impact reflective learning has on  engagement

Theme: Artifacts

Subtopic: The impact of compiling learning artifacts

Theme: Components and uses

Subtopic: The impact of self-guided learning and inquiry

These themes and subtopics may have to change based on the information we are able to find in our resources. If we need to make changes, we will be sure to update this action research plan outline.



In order to create our research action plan, we completed a literature review in which we found research supporting our fundamental question: What impact will the reflective learning process in ePortfolios have on student engagement in 12th grade college prep English classes? The literature review covers the idea of integrating technology in the classroom, ePortfolios, and narrows down into  the content of our fundamental research question.


Below is the timeline of our innovation plan. We have added and included when and where we will be collecting and analyzing the data, developing the action plan, sharing and communicating our results, and reflecting on the process. Throughout the first couple years is when we will gather data regarding how the reflective learning process in ePortfolios affects student engagement in 12th grade college preparatory classes. After that first year, once ePortfolio use expands to other course subjects and classrooms, we will then gather additional data on how they impact student engagement in those courses.

2016-2017 Pilot Year with CP English 12:

Developing The Action Plan

During this time-frame of the innovation plan, the majority of the time will be spent developing the action plan. This year, we are piloting the program in just four CP 12 English classrooms, and based on our observations in class as well as our coursework, we will be developing the action research needed to make this innovation plan successful. We will be using both observations from our individual classrooms as well as feedback from students and colleagues to develop the next steps of the action plan.

  • August Professional Development- Introduce to department and get other teachers’ input.
  • Early September- Have IT department discuss online behaviors, digital footprint, etiquette, etc. with all CP 12 classes.
  • September- Introduce the ePortfolio platform to all CP 12 students in our (Kelly, Erin, and Ryan) classes and have them choose their themes.
  • September-October- Designate Fridays as “ePortfolio days” during which CP12 students will design their sites, and  upload and reflect on past English assignments. This takes the place of independent reading time, so no extra time in the curriculum is needed.  
  • October Meeting- Check in and provide exemplars/samples of student work and discuss reflective learning and ePortfolios are having on student engagement.
  • November- Initiate weekly or monthly blog post requirements in designated CP12 classes pertaining to current events. This takes the place of our current event unit, so no extra time in the curriculum is needed.
  • January-June- Initiate student blog post requirements about their learning outside of the English classroom. We can have them do a required weekly or bi-weekly post and a minimum of 2-4 comments on others’ posts.
  • May-June- Designate Fridays as “ePortfolio organization days” during which students will work towards final organizational tasks in their ePortfolios. They will adjust its design to work for them post high school.
  • January Professional Development (Wednesday meeting)- Meet with department heads to ask them to help generate interest.
  • May Professional Development (Wednesday meeting)- Open session for interested teachers from different departments (at least 2 from each core subject).
  • Summer 2017- Continue ePortfolio development with all interested teachers for 17-18 FLEX hours.

2017-2018 School Year:

Collecting The Data

Once the action research plan has been developed and started, the next step is to collect the data. The data that we will be collecting is qualitative data because our research question is open ended, broad, holistic, and open for interpretation (Mertler, 2016, p. 73). Throughout this school year, we will be gathering data in our CP12 classes while other volunteer teachers begin to incorporate ePortfolios into their classrooms and gather their own data.

  • Begin professional development implementation plan.
  • Each professional development month will include a specific task with deliverables related to collecting data regarding student engagement.
  • Two members from each department will be the lead teachers who will bring ideas back to their departments during department meetings.
  • By the end of the school year, all departments will have at least two teachers who are consistently implementing ePortfolios into their curriculum.
  • Teacher-researchers will provide teachers who are implementing ePortfolios with surveys to gather data about their experiences. Students will also receive surveys. These will provide additional data regarding student engagement.
  • Teacher-researchers will also conduct interviews and observe classrooms to gather data.

2018-2019 School Year:

Sharing and Communicating Results

Once this data has been collected and analyzed for their quality and accuracy, the results needs to be organized in a way that allows for sharing and communicating them effectively with stakeholders of the Owen J. Roberts School District. This can be done informally through the use of presentations given to small groups.  


  • Required professional learning sessions in August during in-service for all teachers to learn about ePortfolios.


    • These sessions will include a presentation of our original “why” video, our prezi presentation of research, and we will email out a link to our complete most recent literature review so that teachers will understand our why behind this innovation plan and action plan.
    • These sessions are where the data that has been gathered and assessed by the teacher-researchers will be shared.
  • Lead teachers from previous year’s development will run these sessions and will model similar or the same activities as our sessions and include the new data gathered.
  • Experts (Kelly, Erin, Ryan) will be floaters, each assigned to two departments to attend meetings and help with questions and implementation plans.
  • Each professional development meeting this year (every month) will be departmental and will focus on the implementation of ePortfolios in each classroom along with gathering additional data to support what has already been found the previous year.
  • Administrator support is crucial during this time period.
  • Administrators will announce minimum implementation requirements by mid-year and will follow up with each teacher through department chairs and lead teachers.
  • By the end of the year, all teachers will be consistently integrating learning ePortfolios into their curriculum and will understand the effects this has on student engagement.

End of 2019 and on:

Reflecting on the Process

Throughout, and after completing, the action research process, teacher-researchers need to reflect on the progress of their action research. This kind of reflection leads teacher-researchers to make necessary changes and adjustments to ensure the success of action research and should be a vital part of action research for all involved.

  • Make adjustments to course curriculum and ePortfolio usage based on the reflections of the teacher-researchers, other contributing teachers, and students.
  • Continue professional development that allows time for reflection and change with the innovation plan.


Ferrance, E. (2000). Action research. Themes in Education, 11. Retrieved from                    



Mertler, C. A. (2016). Action research: Improving schools and empowering educators (5th ed.).

                  Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.



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