Abstract: This article reports on a three-year investigation into how and to what extent ePortfolios sponsor teacher and student learning about audience in first-year writing classes at a mid-sized research university. Through interviews with students and instructors and detailed analysis of students’ ePortfolios, we found that, more often than not, the audience for ePortfolios is multiple. We argue that the ability to craft compositions that successfully negotiate multiple audiences’ needs and expectations is a critical twenty-first century skill, yet the concept of audience is under-investigated and under-theorized in ePortfolio research. Our study provides evidence that working with ePortfolios shifted the ways that students and instructors engaged with the concept of audience. We observed that many student ePortfolios at least gestured toward invoking multiple audiences. We further observed considerable variance in how successfully students negotiated the needs and expectations of these audiences, often experiencing a phenomenon we call “audience interference.” We identified three key rhetorical moves that largely determined the success of the ePortfolio in negotiating multiple audiences’ needs and expectations: intentional design of structure and navigation; contextualization of content and artifacts; and flexible use of voices. We conclude by suggesting pedagogical implications of these findings.
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