e-Portfolio: An OBE Tool for Technical Writing

e-Portfolio: An OBE Tool for Technical Writing

by: Mrs. Mary Mae Jun S. Palma-Esmaya
(BSMT Faculty-JBLFMU-Arevalo)


Outcomes-based Education (OBE) is a process that involves the restructuring of curriculum, assessment and reporting practices in education to reflect the achievement of high order learning and mastery rather than the accumulation of course credits” (Tucker, 2004). Thus, the primary aim of OBE is to facilitate desired changes within the learners, by increasing knowledge, developing skills and/or positively influencing attitudes, values and judgment.
Print and electronic portfolios (eportfolios) have long been used in assessment (Cargile Cook & Zachry, 2010; Graves & Epstein, 2011; Johnson, 2006), and a growing number of disciplines have begun to employ them for professional development. Moores and Parks (2010), for example, believed in the capacity of eportfolios to support undergraduates when they enter the health care profession and offered important tips for students to consider.

Nowadays, we are bombarded with different kinds of information from various available sources. It is but a challenge on how we select and organize this amount of information. Developing the students’ critical thinking skills then is one of the key factors that we need in order to help them overcome this challenge of identifying and analysing essential information. The easiest way for them to access this vast amount of information is through the internet.

The “Millenials”, this is what the generation that we have at present. They are the so-called “Digital Natives.” Most of their time then is spent in browsing the web. Moreover, it is a fact that these “Millenials” have very short attention span in the classroom. They are more engaged when it comes to navigating their laptops and smart phones, thereby, making technology sometimes a hindrance towards a successful academic development. In this endeavour therefore, e-portfolio made these technologies available become tools toward engaging students in their own learning development.

Most teachers think that these smartphones and laptops are just distractions from the learning system, but we can actually make them work toward our own advantage in the field of education. In using their gadgets in the learning system, we hope to help student become more engaged in the learning process. With this, we can help students achieve more in their academic endeavour.

Another problem confronting teachers when it comes to writing class is that they have to check piles of papers. Thus, this e-portfolio will help solve such problem. This minimizes the number of papers that teachers will have to check in a writing class because checking can be done online.

This endeavour then is beneficial not just to the students but to the teachers as well.


The subjects of this innovation were the selected 2nd year BSMT students who are taking up English 4 – Technical Writing.

They were first introduced to www.weebly.com which is the site where they have to make their own portfolio. Specifics of the site were discussed for one meeting in the class. They were asked to bring their laptops, pocket wifi or smart phones in order to access the site. Then, they were tasked to create their site specifically they were to build their home page and about page. The home page is an introduction about the subject which is

English 4. The about page is a self-introduction part of the site. They were instructed to include their pictures in the about page.

Different kinds of business and maritime correspondence were discussed in class. After each and every discussion, students were tasked to make their own letters and upload them in their site. Comments and necessary corrections were given in the site if necessary. A rubric was also used to assess the whole site and each of the outputs uploaded in the site. At the end of the implementation, students were tasked to include their reflection in the e-portfolio based on their experience about the innovation done.


With the implementation of the OBE-OBTL, it is therefore required that students must be able to produce concrete outcomes that showcase what they have learned.

In this innovation, students were able to produce tangible results as reflected in their outputs in the e-portfolio. They were able to use available resources that help them come up with better written outputs. They were able to put some impacts of the innovation in their reflection. Some of them mentioned that it was their first time to make such and they found it very interesting and challenging at the same time. They were able to earn better scores and grades because they were able to exercise self-assessment through the reflection process. Their creativity was as well manifested in their e-portfolio. They did not just come up with letters, but they were able to integrate other skills that help them come up with better outputs.

It showed that students found it more convenient to use because they can access their site and edit their site anytime anywhere given they have internet connection. It also showed that they enjoyed doing the task because it was something new to them. It enabled them to make use of resources that were available.

(For student’s sample output, please visit kendrock.weebly.com, pclao.weebly.com)


This endeavour wasn’t an easy step. It took courage to go beyond the conventional expectation in a writing class that students have to submit hard copy outputs, but nevertheless, it was such a fulfilling experience for me and my students.

Learning will take on a new depth through the reflection process. This is one very significant lesson in this endeavour. Students were able to build more self-esteem and self-confidence because they control their own page or site thus enabling them to make their outputs better. The reflection process allowed them to assess their own learning experience.

Through this e-portfolio, students learn and begin to practice a process that will be used in life long and life wide learning pursuits. They will have an extremely portable tool to use no matter where they are in the world.

One challenge in this endeavour is the availability of a strong internet connection. Poor internet connection hinders the accessibility of the site, thus sometimes students were challenged in finishing their outputs.


This e-portfolio allowed students to access their site not just during the duration of the subject but anytime anywhere in the future or whenever the need arises. This is one source that will somehow help them in the near future when they apply for jobs or make necessary reports. It allowed students to showcase not just the concepts that they have learned in the subject but integrate as well other concepts and skills that they need to complete their site.
As for the teachers, it helped minimize the pile of papers they have to check. They do not have to stay in school for a longer period of time checking the papers. They can access the site 24 hours a day wherever they are for as long as there is internet connection.

It is then one answer in making technical writing more engaging. It is one way of making students work available to their use in the future. It develops not just technical writing literacy but as well as other necessary literacies that will help students become more productive and competitive in the society.
To be successful in the field of technical and professional communication, students must develop multiple literacies. ‘‘A postmodern/post-industrial society,’’ according to Jablonksi and Nagelhout (2010), ‘‘demands that citizens acquire multiple literacies for interacting with more sophisticated information mediums’’ (p. 172). Good writing assignments should help students showcase their multi-literacy skills both for assessment and employment, and creating professional e-portfolios meets that goal. As a result, our technical writing programs are strengthened, and our graduates become more competitive.


Cargile Cook, K., & Zachry, M. (2010). Politics, programmatic self-assessment, and the challenge of cultural change. In M. N. Hundleby & J. Allen (Eds.), Assessment in technical and professional communication (pp. 65–79). Amityville, NY: Baywood.

Graves, N., & Epstein, M. (2011). Eportfolio: A tool for constructing a narrative professional identity. Business Communication Quarterly, 74, 342–346.

Johnson, C. S. (2006). A decade of research: Assessing change in the technical
communication classroom using online portfolios. Journal of Technical Writing and
Communication, 36, 413–431.

Moores, A., & Parks, M. (2010). Twelve tips for introducing e-portfolios with undergraduate students. Medical Teacher 32, 46–49.

Tucker, B. (2004). Literature review: Outcomes-focused education in universities. Retrieved October 19, 2004 from http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/outcomes/docs/LitReview.pdf