Wurtele Center for Work & Life to Offer New Eportfolio Program
Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 4, 2012 21:10
The recently renamed Wurtele Center for Work & Life is offering a new program for junior and senior students titled the Global Engagement and Leadership Eportfolio Pilot. The program will offer 20 students the opportunity to create digital reflections of their Smith experiences and future aspirations.
Starting this month and continuing through April of 2013, the program will provide workshops and guidance for its participants in order to help them create eportfolios, comprised of digital images and texts, which document students’ learning over time as well as their resumes and other career-related reflections and goals. The eportfolio can act as a personalized addition to a professional or graduate school application. Students do not need eportfolio experience to apply to the program.
Wurtele Center Director Jessica Bacal said that the program was partially conceived as an avenue for the increased use of Smith’s web-based software platform Digication.
“Smith bought [Digication] to use in liberal arts advising,” said Bacal. “And it’s been used, not to its full capacity for liberal arts advising, but as a way for students to do some reflection on their work and on their goals and for advisors to be able to check in and read about their advisees’ thinking and for them to have enriched conversations. It seems like it’s been successful in terms of enriching those conversations, but Digication is only being used to a small part of its capacity.”
Bacal said that the program will aim to broaden Smith’s use of Digication as a software that makes eportfolio creation in particular possible.
“The idea of this is to really use Digication to the full extent of its capacity, in a way that will allow, in this case, a small number of students to begin with, to deeply reflect on their most important learning experiences at Smith, and uncover what we call tacit knowledge,” said Bacal. “There’s a woman we’re working with from the University of Michigan named Melissa Peet who talks about tacit knowledge as what you’ve learned that you don’t even realize you’ve learned, through experiences that are not only in the classroom.”
The program also aims to document students’ leadership growth as it has developed over their time at Smith.
“Something we’re particularly interested in is the idea that so many people who come out of Smith are becoming leaders in different ways,” said Bacal. “We’re thinking of leadership broadly, including things like artistic innovation.”
Chair of the Wurtele Center Student Advisory Board Yenisleidy Simon AC ’13 is one of the students intending to apply to the new program.
“I think the program would provide me with an exceptional opportunity to reflect on my learning experiences and how they have shaped the person I am today,” wrote Simon in an e-mail. “In a critical time in which many of us wonder about future plans, this program aspires to engage students in a dialogue from which we can walk away feeling renewed and empowered.”
“People come into Smith and when they leave, they have developed this inner capacity for leadership,” said Bacal. “And Smith women do take on leadership roles at a rate that’s higher than co-ed schools, and I think even maybe a higher rate than other women’s colleges. So something is happening here, but we don’t really know what it is, and we have some ideas about what students get from being in an all-women’s environment and at Smith in particular. It’s a great school.”
The program will involve 15 workshop hours in the fall semester and 10 in the spring semester. The first and last of its three workshops will be held at Chesterfield Inn, a bed and breakfast located in New Hampshire.
“What I’m hoping is that students will be able to, through this experience, really look at what they’re getting both in and out of the classroom and see how it’s helping them to develop as a leader in their own life and someone who’s capable of being a leader in the world,” said Bacal.
Simon said that participating in the program would “create an environment in which I can thoughtfully and critically evaluate [my] experiences in an attempt to understand what they mean in a larger context, my future and the world’s future.”
Applications to the program are due Friday, Oct. 12. They can be accessed at http://www.smith.edu/cwl/index.php.