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ePortfolio, diversity, real-world problems, civic scientific literacy, antibiotic resistance, literacy, microbes, SENCER


ePortfolios are digital repositories where students can curate papers, projects, and reflections from individual or multiple courses across the disciplines and in a variety of formats to showcase their learning. This transparent and portable medium, which enables students to document their knowledge and abilities for assessment and career development, has been recognized by the American Association of Colleges and Universities as one of 11 high-impact practices. Using tailored rubrics, student assessment of learning gain surveys, and end-of-course exam questions, this study demonstrates how an ePortfolio assignment can be used in microbiology courses taken by majors and nonmajors to measure student learning outcomes in several course and program learning goals. Additionally, it helps students reflect on their learning and place it in a real-world context by connecting science, microbiology, and microbes with issues of social importance like cholera, gender equity, and antibiotic resistance. Writing from a first-person perspective and drawing on resources obtained in class and from their own research, students generate profiles for a chosen microbe and document the microbe’s characteristics in creative ways. The ePortfolio assignment can also be partnered with creative work such as an art piece or a poem that highlights and showcases the microbe in a format that is accessible to the public to increase awareness of the role of microbes in our ecosystems. With careful design and construction of assignments, ePortfolios can also be leveraged to promote civic and scientific literacy by tying classroom content to real-world issues of civic importance.

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Originally published as:

Smyth DS, Chen S, Sompanya G, Metz M, Conefrey T. How Getting Friendly with Bacteria Can Promote Student Appreciation of Microbial Diversity and Their Civic Scientific Literacy. J Microbiol Biol Educ. 2022 Jul 5;23(2):e00055-22. doi: 10.1128/jmbe.00055-22.

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