How might we design a learning portfolio that charts the future by speculating on the past?

At the intersection of metacognitive tactics, a growth mindset and the eportfolio artifact exists the possibility of designing an adaptive learning capsule that flourishes with the student. The data documented in conventional examples of the academic transcript offers limited insight into the character strengths and growth mindset of the learner. As designers we are excited to prototype the transformative potential of a living archive that promotes prospection alongside reflection, that makes goals and deliberate practice visible and if/then strategies accountable. The technological and crowd-sourcing potential of such a document in the world of big data is exciting and yet at it’s core this is a project that calls for us to take a 360 degree view of feedback. 


Description As design researchers we initiate projects by diving in and designing prospective prototypes as tools for engaging the broader community with a provocation of where this research might take us. The low-fi highly speculative prototypes (currently in development) will present metaphors for how we frame and understand the problem space and map the opportunity landscape the learning portfolio offers. The feedback from these early probes will shape more structured co-design experiences where subject matter experts will be bought in to collectively inform our understanding of the learning sciences behind motivation, mindsets, grit, prospection, goal setting, retrieval, memory, attention, mindfulness and authentic assessment. 

We are excited by the learning portfolio in and of itself and yet we also intentionally identified the learning portfolio as the perfect MacGuffin for transforming learning and embodying translational research. The MacGuffin (from film) is the plot device that animates the narrative — and we have noted that new forms of capturing learning and growth is a topic that researchers from many disciplines appear to rally behind. The potential of the learning portfolio becomes the conceit by which you can bring together an interdisciplinary team to share their expertise. This multi-modal, participatory approach facilitates a strategic discussion by zooming between the project-grounded, particular nature of the designed artifact and the evidence proposed by the interdisciplinary research. We believe the learning portfolio might have the gravitational pull to get diverse stakeholders invested in synthesizing the research behind learning and thriving.

Status We are still in the discovery phase with this project. Once we have a fundamental understanding of the learning sciences aspect we will draw in communities that can frame the potential to respect to machine learning and the application within different learning environments. Class experiments have confirmed the profound value of repeated, in-depth reflection and introduced the notion of visualizing growth and looking to the future. The hope is that as the project unfolds we will be able to design an engaging tool for playful feedback and visualized feedforward. 

Co-principal Investigators Lisa Grocott
Research Associate Mai Kobori
Research Fellows Christopher Patten and Maggie Ollove
Research Partners Riverdale Country School and Parsons School of Design