Breaking down the evidence

For many students, the ePortfolio is the final step in the Master of Library and Information Sciences at San Jose State University. I have written many articles already about the ePortfolio process that I completed in November 2017.

SJSU MLIS Success Series:
The San Jose State University ePortfolio Experience
San Jose State University course selection tool (MLIS)
San Jose State University ePortfolio status tool

One of the frequent questions asked in ePortfolio support groups is, “what evidence did you use for competency x?” or “how can I fulfill competency y?”

Most ePortfolio advisors will ask for approximately three assignments to support each competency. But this isn’t always the case so it may differ between advisors. If you, like me, have to complete competency O, it means you will have to produce around 45 pieces of evidence.

That’s a lot of evidence!

That got me thinking, what evidence did I choose and which courses contributed most to my successful completion of the ePortfolio? My ePortfolio experience went very smoothly. I had one minor revision on 18 submissions and that revision had nothing to do with the assignments I selected as evidence.

Evidence breakdown

I decided to look at which courses I took that produced assignments that were most often used as evidence in my ePortfolio. The chart below shows all fifteen courses that I took over my MLIS career. Core courses are in blue while elective courses are in green. I have also included personal/professional experience that does not fit into any of the courses at SJSU. These experiences still provided evidence to support my ability to complete the competency.

This graph shows the number of assignments I used as evidence per course

Courses that “earned their place”

As you can see, evidence distribution is quite spread out among the courses I completed at SJSU. As I mentioned earlier, if I were to use original evidence for each competency I would have needed 45 assignments. But as the chart shows, I included 39. That means six items are used many times in my ePortfolio (I did not use an assignment more than twice).

The personal/professional experiences I had were used for six of my pieces of evidence. I attribute this to my employment in an academic library during the three years I worked on my degree. Because of that, I was able to draw on my work experience to fulfill competencies. Similarly, INFO 204- Information communities (five), INFO 210- Reference and information services (four), and INFO 281- Examination of global library issues using project-based learning (four) were more used to support my competencies than other courses.

Unused courses

INFO 203- Online learning: Tools and strategies for success, INFO 230- Issues in academic libraries, INFO 240- Information technology tools and applications and INFO 281-2- Marketing your LIS skills in a networked and changing world provided me zero assignments that were used to complete my ePortfolio.

I am surprised that I did not use INFO 230 and INFO 240 as evidence for showing mastery of my competencies. These courses were still excellent and thought-provoking so they will still serve me well even though I didn’t use them in my ePortfolio. I am not surprised that INFO 203 and INFO 281-2 (both one unit courses) were not used to show my mastery of any competency.

Distribution of evidence over time

As I entered the final two semesters of my MLIS degree I started focusing my assignments to fulfill gaps in my evidence. I thought it would be interesting to see how my final pieces of evidence mapped over my time at SJSU.

As you can see, evidence selection was not favored toward the end of my degree. I was expecting assignments completed at the end of my degree would be more showcased but this wasn’t the case. In fact, the selection of my evidence tended to favor my earlier coursework as the red trend line indicates.

Why might this be the case? Throughout my time at SJSU I was keeping a running total of the pieces of evidence I intended to use in my ePortfolio. By the final couple of semesters, I had nearly completed all my required pieces of evidence. So I would begin choosing courses that could fill in gaps in missing pieces of evidence (1 or 2 here and there). This is a very important thing to consider when looking at the evidence distribution in my article. A course like INFO 230 was extremely valuable and could provide a higher number of pieces of evidence for other students but was not used by me since I took it near the end of my SJSU career.

This graph shows the number of evidences used per course chronologically


I thought my ePortfolio was a balanced collection of my coursework at SJSU. While my experience may not be the same for everyone, some courses proved more valuable to me in completing my ePortfolio.

INFO 204- Information professions (five pieces of evidence)

For coursework, Information communities were used most for evidence outside of my own professional experience. This course focused on information users and the social, cultural, economic, technological, and political forces that shape their information access and use. This is also a core course in the SJSU MLIS program so all students would be wise to use as much evidence from this course as possible to free up space for interesting elective courses later in your SJSU career.

This course was used in completing Competency D (apply the fundamental principles of planning, management, marketing, and advocacy). Here, two of my three pieces of evidence are from INFO 204. I also used this course to complete competencies B, J, and M.

INFO 210- Reference and information services (four pieces of evidence)

Reference and information services was another course that I used many assignments as evidence. All three pieces of evidence in Competency I (use service concepts, principles, and techniques to connect individuals or groups with accurate, relevant, and appropriate information) were fulfilled using INFO 210. This course was helpful because it explores various methods and models for delivering information while examining how to use new ideas and skills that are impacting the future of reference services and access to information.

This class required us to complete many mini-assignments. These were excellent in showing how information professionals can connect users to information. One of my assignments from this class was also used to complete Competency A as it involved issues of ethics in connecting young people with appropriate information sources.

INFO 281-14 Examination of global library issues using project-based learning (four pieces of evidence)

Examination of global library issues using project-based learning was another course I used a number of assignments from to complete my competencies. Students entering the SJSU MLIS program after the Spring 2015 term will find this course particularly beneficial as it focuses heavily on international librarianship.

This course was heavily used to complete competency O and I would highly recommend taking this course when it appears in the course offering rotation. Note, this is a two-credit course and make sure that it is the Examination of global library issues using project-based learning section of INFO 281. Also note, this course was one of the more challenging that I took at SJSU but was completely worth the reward of four pieces of evidence.

Please feel free to share which courses offered you the best “bang for your buck” in the comments below.

Cover photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

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