Keywords080600 INFORMATION SYSTEMS
130100 EDUCATION SYSTEMS
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AbstractMuch has been said and documented about the key role that reflection can play in the ongoing development of e-portfolios, particularly e-portfolios utilised for teaching and learning. A review of e-portfolio platforms reveals that a designated space for documenting and collating personal reflections is a typical design feature of both open source and commercial off-the-shelf software. Further investigation of tools within e-portfolio systems for facilitating reflection reveals that, apart from enabling personal journalism through blogs or other writing, scaffolding tools that encourage the actual process of reflection are under-developed. Investigation of a number of prominent e-portfolio projects also reveals that reflection, while presented as critically important, is often viewed as an activity that takes place after a learning activity or experience and not intrinsic to it. This paper assumes an alternative, richer conception of reflection: a process integral to a wide range of activities associated with learning, such as inquiry, communication, editing, analysis and evaluation. Such a conception is consistent with the literature associated with ‘communities of practice’, which is replete with insight into ‘learning through doing’, and with a ‘whole minded’ approach to inquiry. Thus, graduates who are ‘reflective practitioners’ who integrate reflection into their learning will have more to offer a prospective employer than graduates who have adopted an episodic approach to reflection. So, what kinds of tools might facilitate integrated reflection? This paper outlines a number of possibilities for consideration and development. Such tools do not have to be embedded within e-portfolio systems, although there are benefits in doing so. In order to inform future design of e-portfolio systems this paper presents a faceted model of knowledge creation that depicts an ‘ecology of knowing’ in which interaction with, and the production of, learning content is deepened through the construction of well-formed questions of that content. In particular, questions that are initiated by ‘why’ are explored because they are distinguished from the other ‘journalist’ questions (who, what, when, where, and where) in that answers to them demand explanative, as opposed to descriptive, content. They require a rationale. Although why questions do not belong to any one genre and are not simple to classify — responses can contain motivational, conditional, causal, and/or existential content — they do make a difference in the acquisition of understanding. The development of scaffolding that builds on why-questioning to enrich learning is the motivation behind the research that has informed this paper.