Discovering Their Stories
Students trace their Bucknell journey through new digital portfolio initiative
by Brooke Thames

There’s only so much of a college education that a resume can capture. Sometimes, a student’s most transformative experiences can’t be summarized in a single bullet point.

Perhaps no one knows this better than Bucknellians, which is why the University has introduced a new way for students to chart their four years of knowledge, exploration and growth. Launched last academic year, the Pathways program encourages students to thoughtfully integrate their curricular and co-curricular experiences through the creation of a digital portfolio.

Equipped with a range of tools for writing, displaying photos, embedding documents and more, this highly customizable personal site allows for vivid mapping of the college journey — from Orientation to graduation. But the Pathways portfolio is more than an amalgamation of a student’s accomplishments in the classroom — it’s an exercise in self-discovery.

Student teacher sitting at desk

Photos: Courtesy of Lainey Lavelle ’22

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Lavelle ’22’s Pathways portfolio showcases her past work as a student teacher at Baugher Elementary School in Milton, Pa

“We often say that we want students to meditate on their Bucknell experience, but then we find ourselves asking, ‘Well, where do they do that?’ ” says Joseph Tranquillo, associate provost for transformative teaching & learning. “This initiative aims to provide a place where students can do that in a meaningful way.”

As students reflect on their involvement in residence halls, clubs, study abroad programs and beyond, they gain a clearer understanding of their own values, goals, strengths and weaknesses — and how it all relates to their academic and professional trajectory.

“The process of creating a personal narrative is instrumental in threading personal and academic lessons in a coherent way,” says Tranquillo. “So even if this portfolio isn’t necessarily something you’d present at a job interview — the way an artist or an engineer might — you’ve still done the intellectual work to communicate effectively about what you’ve learned here.”

I actually gave my interviewers a QR code to my portfolio so they were able to see what I’d accomplished.”

LAINEY LAVELLE ’22

To provide a range of entry points for student participation, the University is working to integrate Pathways into a variety of programs, curricula and resources across campus. After completing this year’s Common Reading book, George Takei’s They Called Us Enemy, all first-year students were invited to translate their takeaways into a piece of interpretive work to be added to their digital portfolio. The Center for Career Advancement is also developing a half-credit course centering the portfolio as a powerful tool.

Student's art

For education major Lainey Lavelle ’22, the portfolio proved instrumental.

“As I was interviewing for teaching positions, it was great to go back and access everything I did and learned through the student-teaching placement I had while at Bucknell,” says Lavelle. “I actually gave my interviewers a QR code to my portfolio so they were able to see what I’d accomplished. That not only set me apart but also gave me a leg up because they could see how much I’ve prepared for a career in teaching.”