The value of eJournals to support ePortfolio value of eJournals to support ePortfolio development...

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  • ThevalueofeJournalstosupportePortfoliodevelopmentforassessmentinteachereducationSusanCrichtonGailKopp

    AUTHORS

    SusanCrichtonisanAssociateProfessorintheFacultyofEducation,UniversityofCalgary.Correspondenceregardingthisarticlecanbesentto:crichtos@ucalgary.ca

    GailKoppisanAssistantProfessorintheFacultyofEducation,UniversityofCalgary.Shecanbereachedatgkopp@ucalgary.ca

    Abstract: This paper presents findings from a twoyear pilot project into the use ofePortfolios as a tool for assessment in a two year, fieldoriented, inquirybased teacherpreparationprogram.Participantsconsistedoffivecohortsofpreservicestudentteachersandfiveinstructorsinterviews,focusgroups,artifacts,andprojectmeetingsprovidedtherawdataforanalysis.TheoriginalityofthisworkrestsintheimportanceofestablishinganeJournaltoaccompanytheePortfolio.Basedonourfindingsinthisactionresearchstudy,wechallengeandaddtotheexistingePortfolioliteraturearoundsuchissuesasePortfolioproject design, process vs. product, the use of templates, social software, anddocumentation.

    Rsum : Cet article prsente les rsultats dun projet pilote de deux ans portant surlutilisationdesportfolioslectroniquescommeoutildvaluationauseindunprogrammedeprparationdesenseignantsaxsur la rechercheet lapratiquedunedurededeuxans. Lesparticipants se composaientde cinq cohortesdtudiants enenseignementnonencoresurlemarchdutravailainsiquedecinqinstructeurslesdonnesbrutesquiontt analyses proviennent dentretiens, de groupes de discussion, dartefacts et derunions de projet. Loriginalit de ce travail rside dans limportance attache lacration dun journal lectronique pour accompagner le portfolio. Sur la base de nosconclusions dans cette tude de recherche applique, nous remettons en question ladocumentation existante tout en y contribuant sur des sujets tels que la conception duprojetdeportfoliolectronique,lacomparaisonduprocessusetduproduit,lutilisationdemodles,leslogicielssociauxetladocumentation.

    Introduction

    Our research suggests that eJournals1 help to make ePortfolios more authentic andrelevanttothestudents lives.Focusingonreflectionandinquiry,thestudyexploredtheuseofsocialsoftwareasatooltobuildandsustainacommunityofpractice,recognizingthatteachereducationlivesinacommunitywellbeyondtheuniversityexperience.

    Therelevanceofthistopicrestsinthelinkbetweenjournalingandportfoliodevelopmentaswell as the integration of technology for authentic purposes. The studentswhowere

    http://www.cjlt.ca/index.php/cjlt/article/view/502/233#1mailto:gkopp@ucalgary.camailto:crichtos@ucalgary.ca

  • involved in this pilot left our program prepared to work differently, having experiencedtechnologyasanenablerofchangedteachingandlearning.

    Researchfindingspresentedinthispaperchallengesomeofthenotionspresentedintheliteraturebelowandsupportothers.Thepaperwillreportonthe integrationofeJournalswithinanePortfolioenvironmenttoallowrobustformativeandsummativeassessmentofpreservice teacherworkand toencourage thedevelopmentofacommunityofpracticeamongstudentteachers,partnerteachers,anduniversityinstructors.

    TheoreticalFrameworkIn recent years, the literature (Barrett, 2003, 2005 Fox, Kidd, Painter & Ritchie, 2006Jafari&Kaufman,2006) is rifewithdiscussionabout thevalueofportfolios (bothpaperand electronic) for educational purposes. Of particular interest to this study and, on alarger scale, to our inquirybased, twoyear, after degree, teacher preparation program,were the advantages of authentic assessment afforded by portfolios(http://www.educ1.ucalgary.ca/dtp/program/ index.html). DarlingHammond and Snyder(2000) use their framework for assessment to present a convincing argument for theadvantagesofportfolios,includingopportunities:

    toincorporatemultiplekindsofevidenceovertimeandacrossdifferentcontexts,tostopmotioninthefastpaced,complexenvironmentofteachingsothatcriticalaspectsofthesecanthenbeexaminedsharedandusedaslearningexperiences,toraiseteachingdecisionstoconsciousness,makinglearningvisiblefordeeperconsiderationfrommultipleperspectives,andtoengageincontinuousselfreactionandcriticalconversations(p.524).

    DarlingHammond and Snyder also point out that the very act of engaging in suchanalysis ultimately enriches their [student] ability to understand the effects of theiractions.Whitford,RuscoeandFickel(1999)concur,indicatingthatitisduring

    thisprocessofselectinganddiscussingartifactsoftheirpracticethatcandidatesinternalizethestandards,examinemoredeeplywhattheyaredoingandwhatitmeans,andgainmultipleperspectivesonthemeaningofevents,thusenhancingtheirabilitytolearnfromthoseevents.(p.202)

    Anotheradvantageofportfolios implied inthe literature istheopportunityto incorporatedigital documentation as evidence for portfolio claims. In describing the importance ofdocumentationforreflectivepractice,Dahlberg,MossandPence(1999)notethatit

    Enablesus toseehowweourselvesunderstandand readwhat isgoingon inpracticewith this as a base, it is easier to see that our own descriptions as pedagogues areconstructeddescriptions.Hence, theybecome researchable andopen for discussionandchange.(p.147)

    Further,ithelpsstudentstomaketheirthinkingexplicit,supportingEisners(1998)notionthatthereisnothingmoreslipperythanthought.

    The documentation process also introduces students to authentic uses of technology tosupportinformationgatheringandmanagementaswellassocialnetworking,collaboration,

    http://www.educ1.ucalgary.ca/dtp/program/%20index.html

  • and community building. This use of technology, for real and relevant purposes, helpsteachers,atvariousstagesoftheircareers,embraceICTasanintegraltoolforenhancingteachingandlearningratherthananoversoldandunderusedimpositioninclassrooms(Cuban,2001).Likemanyprovincialorstatejurisdictions,AlbertahasaformalizedsetofICTknowledge,skills,andattributes(KSAs)that(1)studentteachersmustknowpriortocertificationand(2)practicingteachersmust integrate intoongoingclassroomactivities.The introduction of ePortfolios was seen as a way of addressing these KSAs in anintentionalandprogrammaticway.

    Described by theNational Learning Infrastructure Initiative as a collection of authenticand diverse evidence, drawn from a larger archive representing what a person ororganizationhaslearnedovertimeonwhichthepersonororganizationhasreflected,anddesigned for presentation to one ormore audiences for a particular rhetorical purpose(Barrett, 2005, p. 5), portfolios typically serve the purpose of assessment for learning,narrative of discovery, and tools for reflection all core components of inquirybasedteachingandlearning.Therefore,itwaswiththisunderstanding,andtheawarenessoftheliteraturethatfollows,thatwedesignedourpilotproject.

    Asiscommonlyexpressedintheliterature,portfoliosemphasizeanalysisandreflectionbyhonouring the process not the product (Acosta & Liu, 2006). In a teacher preparationprogram that values process as well as product, this shift in focus was an importantexpectation for us in introducing ePortfolios for assessment. However, as Flanigan andAmirian(2006)note,Documents,projects,andvideothatstudentfeltrepresentedtheirbestworksandabilitieswerecollectedasartifactsfortheportfolios(p.105).Thisfindingappearedtoplacevalueonthequalityofproductovertheprocess.

    Historically,theliteraturesuggeststhatportfolioscanhelpfacultysustainandenhancethequality of pedagogy for preservice teachers by engaging them in conversation andreflectionandassessingthoseinteractionsinmeaningful,authenticways.Theabilitytodothis rests in the design of a portfolio experience that encourages risk taking, goodquestioning and documenting the responses to those questions / experiences inmanageable, sustainable, and meaningful ways (Black & Wiliam, 1998). There are anumberofePortfolioprojectdesignsintheliteraturethatsupportongoingreflectionandcollaboration. Greenberg (2006), for example, describes the Collaboratory ePortfolio, ageneralpurpose learning ePortfolio designed as a studentcentred repository. Thecollaborator document architecture of the repository supports ongoing conversationswhere students organize, share, and discuss work with teachers and peers in acollaborative virtual space. DarlingHammond and Snyder (2000) describe two teacherpreparationschoolswhereteamsofstakeholdersreviewstudentePortfolios.Oneofthesealso includesanePortfolio teamtohelpstudentsprepare theportfolio.Lookingat theseexamples,wewonderedat theworkloadandthenumberofpeople involved,particularlyfor the teacher / mentor side of the interaction. In the time constraints of a twoyearprogramthatisalreadyheavilyloadedforstudentsandfaculty,thedesignoftheePortfolioexperience could not be time or personnelintensive if it was to be manageable or

  • sustainable (Black & Wiliam, 1998). Therefore, we felt we needed to design a uniqueePortfoliostructuretosupportourinstructionalphilosophyaswellasprogramconstraints.

    The structure of ePortfolios varies. Throughout the literature, mention is made of atemplate as a master or pattern from which similar things can be made (Flanigan &Amirian, 2006, p. 111). Templates range from specific, commercial portfolio software toprogramdevelopedstylepagesinHTMLauthoringsoftwaresuchasDreamweaver.Inourproject, thenotion of any content templatewas rejected as being inconsistentwith ourinquirybased philosophy, but ideas around web templates were explored as a way ofmakingthetechnologytransparentandhelpingstudentsfocusondevelopingthecontentof the ePortfolio rather than wrestling with learning software applications (Romance,Whitesell,Smith&Louden,2006).

    The project described in this paper acknowledges and builds on the existing literature,introducing eJournals as rich, personal repositories from which students can drawsignificantePortfoliocontent.AsnotedbyHelenBarrett(2008),achampionofePortfolios,TheUniversityofCalgaryhasaddedanimportantdimensiontotheePortfolio literature,byemphasizingtheimportanceofprocess