LEADing the Way with ePortfolios in a First-Generation Learning Community

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Association of American Colleges and Universities


Although an increasing number of first-generation students are beginning tertiary education, many are not completing their degrees. In an attempt to improve retention and graduation rates, learning communities responsive to the unique needs of first-generation students are becoming more common. This paper explores the implementation of ePortfolios in first-year writing courses in one such learning community, the LEAD Scholars Program. The research, which employed thematic analysis of student ePortfolios in a qualitative case study, suggests that ePortfolios operate synergistically with other high-impact practices to amplify the persistence and success of firstgeneration students and prepare them for their roles as engaged citizens and leaders in an increasingly technologically-connected society. The broader significance of this research derives from the importance of discovering how to improve the effectiveness of programs to retain and graduate first-generation students.