The Catalyst Framework identifies five interlocking sectors, centered around the Learning Core and guided by three Design Principles. Emerging from our work with the C2L partner campuses, the Framework serves as the navigational structure for this site. Use the Catalyst Framework to explore exemplary campus practices and stories, overarching analytical essays, and resources related to each sector of the Framework.

The Catalyst for Learning site is designed to serve as a resource for educators engaged in planning and building ePortfolio initiatives. It is organized to answer this basic question:What strategies and approaches do successful ePortfolio campuses employ to launch, build, and sustain their ePortfolio implementations?A hypothesis emerging from our research suggests that effective integrative ePortfolio initiatives address at least three core levels of campus life and learning: students and faculty, departments and programs, and institutional culture.

The most effective integrative ePortfolio initiatives address these three core learning levels with work that takes place in five interlocking sectors: Pedagogy, Professional Development, Outcomes Assessment, Technology and Scaling Up.

Embracing and helping to unify all levels and sectors of the model are three overarching design principles: Inquiry, Reflection, and Integration.


Click any of the the sectors in the interactive Catalyst Framework graphic above to go directly to related analytical essays, campus stories, or practices and additional resources.

Click here to read the Catalyst Essay, What it Takes to Make a Difference: The Catalyst Framework.


Design Principles: Inquiry, Reflection, Integration (I-R-I)

What overarching principles inform the work of successful ePortfolio initiatives? What themes unify their work across all five sectors of the Catalyst framework? Research has revealed three design principles that inform and strengthen multiple aspects of effective ePortfolio practice: Inquiry, Reflection, and Integration.


ePortfolio pedagogy engages students in a recursive inquiry into their own learning and their evolving identities as learners. Through sustained collective inquiry in ePortfolio-related professional development and outcomes assessment, faculty, staff, and the broader institution construct new knowledge and understandings about the teaching and learning process.


Reflection is pivotal to meaningful student ePortfolios, which function as sites for prompting, documenting, and sharing students’ reflection on their learning. And reflection helps to move outcomes assessment beyond accountability as individuals and programs reflect on assessment findings and their implications for curricular and pedagogical change.


Students use ePortfolios to bring together work from multiple contexts, to consider the relation between their classrooms and their lives outside of class, and to construct new identities as learners. In ePortfolio-related professional development, an integrative approach prompts faculty to develop and test strategies that help students integrate their learning; and also helps faculty and staff to transfer knowledge and insight from specific instances to broader contexts and applications.

Click here to read more about Inquiry, Reflection, and Integration.




Integrative, social, and reflective ePortfolio pedagogy deepens students’ understanding of course content and helps them develop a more purposeful approach to learning. This sector draws most significantly on ePortfolio practices contributed by C2L campus teams. The essays and practices include tools and resources identified and created by C2L campus teams, and, in some cases, links to student portfolios that illuminate their centrality to the ePortfolio learning processes.



Professional Development

Professional development for faculty and staff is an essential component of successful ePortfolio initiatives. C2L campuses provide ePortfolio-related professional development opportunities for participants, helping them learn how to use ePortfolio to more effectively advance student learning and success. In this sector you can review ways campuses organize professional development, from one-time technology workshops to summer teaching institutes to sustained year-long seminars focused on ePortfolio as an integrative social pedagogy.



Outcomes Assessment

ePortfolio-based Outcomes Assessment processes engage faculty and staff in sustained and structured inquiry into student learning, using authentic student work. When used as part of a college’s assessment work, ePortfolio shifts the focus from accountability to learning, engaging faculty and staff directly in the assessment process and making student learning (and in particular, integrative learning) more visible. This sector showcases Outcomes Assessment stories from our partner campuses. The Catalyst essay analyzes effective strategies for implementing ePortfolio-based outcomes assessment.




What makes an ePortfolio platform effective? Experienced ePortfolio practitioners know that “pedagogy drives technology” and that meaningful ePortfolio practices involve a complex interplay between teaching, learning and technology. The technological aspect of ePortfolio, while not primary in importance, can nonetheless play a critical role in supporting and enhancing, or in some cases, hindering such practices. This sector includes Technology stories, which describe successes and challenges encountered by our partners in the C2L network. Our Catalyst essay analyzes the ways ePortfolio platforms make a difference on a campus.



Scaling Up

Scaling Up refers to the broadening and deepening of an ePortfolio initiative, often from a small pilot to programs, departments and across an institution. How do successful campuses “scale up” their ePortfolio projects? What is the impact of scaling up on student, faculty, and institutional learning? In this sector you will find stories from our partner campuses about the growth and “scaling up” of ePortfolio at their institution, ten core strategies that effective ePortfolio leaders employ, and an essay by Senior Scholar Randy Bass about ePortfolio’s role as a catalyst for institutional change.

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