Sunday, January 27, 2008

Why electronic portfolios?

I don't look at the portfolio as a way to help students get a job. I look at it as assessment for the credential program. I tell my students this is the final assessment rather than a thesis or a comprehensive exam. It's the capstone that enables them to show what they know and are able to do because of their participation in our credential program. Theoretically this is true, however, it appears to be more of a show and tell portfolio at this time certainly addressing the TPEs. Student final assessments are the TASKS.

As to technology - I'm thinking there's a possibility that we'll be using the hybrid model throughout the program. From all indications, this is probably going to be the wave of our Chapman future...? If that's the case, the portfolio process can be built into the teaching/learning/assessment within each hybrid shell. The foliotek process with eCollege allows you to send assignments from the dropbox to the portfolio when you are ready for it to be evaluated by faculty. This is good! I saw a great demonstration of this at the CITE conference. But - this was why I was concerned about what delivery system we'd be using if we started with hybrids. I would like to see programs coordinated rather than have piecemeal decisions made!

I see the possibility of starting students from the very beginning - and particularly getting them started in EDUU451/551. Training for them and staff as well would, most likely work. With most of the web-based programs, the technology requirements are minimal. I know that Taskstream and LiveText have offered to come do presentations - which maybe is what we should consider for our faculty.

My other hope with this type of portfolio system is that the TPAs could be submitted within the portfolio framework. I see this becoming more complicated. I would say, at this point, to definiitely keep them as two separate things...maybe, I'd need to look at this more closely and understand the program.They would still be submitted and evaluated by outside assessors - but most of these web-based systems can handle electronic submissions of documents, videos, powerpoint, Excel files...and of course, pdf files. Plus - rubrics can be automatically completed by more than one assessor and students could receive feedback for their future BTSA programs. The other advantage is that documentation is easily collected for accreditation. NCATE generally expects electronic portfolio systems. Of course, we aren't NCATE accredited at this point, but it would help with collecting documents for student learning outcomes assessment as well.

After just sitting through one of the worst student exits I've had in years, I have to say that in my single subject program, the whole process of portfolio collection and reflection has gone down the tubes. Definitely! This student was sent home to rethink his portfolio and reflect on his proficiencies with the standards. He literally had NO reflection and his selection of artifacts was so weak I couldn't find anything positive to say. Hopefully, his next visit will be more fruitful. But - I've had a number of exit portfolios that were very weak this year. I have been going in to classes and discussing the portfolio expectations with them throughout the program. I encouraged all instructors to spend some time with their students on what will be included in the portfolio from their classes - and reflecting on how, why, etc. We've had student teacher seminars on how to prepare for the exit and we hand out a lovely packet describing portfolio requirements. So - I'm not sure why the portfolios and exits have gone down hill - but I think it has to do with students being overwhelmed and confused primarily with the TPAs. They put all of their efforts into those TPAs and the final case study. What I'm seeing is that they start the shell of their portfolio in EDUU510 and then they forget about it until they complete the TPAs...and then it's an afterthought...ah they still have to exit and add "stuff" to their portfolio. Yes, in Monterey as well! Because I am teacahing EDUU 540, I devote some time to the assembly of the portfolio and I cannot beleive what I see and what I don't see. The discussion is always interesting because that is when they tell me what actually goes on in their classes.

In the last Ryan Act program, the portfolios and exit interviews were so beautifully done in the Modesto SS program. We had portfolio checks at different stages of the program and I think students saw the purpose of the portfolio as on-going assessment. They contributed to the process throughout each class and our culminating course in EDSU525 was the perfect class to evaluate artifacts, reflect on the standards, and put the final touches on the portfolio. We also emphasized the Chapman tree in the foundations course and had on-going discussions of those attributes of a teacher throughout the program. It was also a time when we were focused on diversity and meeting the needs of all students. We had courses that embodied the ideals of the Chapman vision tree - like 570 - voice, equity, justice, diversity. Of course, we were just CLAD embedded and the poltical and social climate was very different. I think the SB2042 program meets many of those same goals - but the Chapman tree went by the wayside - partially because there were so many other nuts and bolts to cover. Now we have not only the TPAs - which scare the students from the very beginning - to ongoing case studies, the portfolio, the tree, department student learning outcomes collections, philosophy, inclusion paper, etc. etc. Our syllabi try to connect objectives and assignments with TPEs, but students don't see it.

The case studies were a good addition to the program - but we started with too many - and they didn't become a part of our student learning outcomes assessment system. Some students put them in their portfolio - but when I ask how it relates to the standard, they often have a blank expression - like - huh? My student from yesterday didn't have a single case study in his portfolio! Not even his own...? I feel like we need to work on building a more cohesive program and purpose with clear connections between instructional content and the portfolio assessment. Since the TPAs are obviously the main assessment that students obsess about - even though we aren't evaluating them - I do believe our portfolio needs to be in line with the TPEs and support the TPA process. They could provide a "container" for not only demonstrating proficiency, but building knowledge, skill, and competency towards meeting the TPEs and preparing for the TPAs. The idea of "signature assignments" that can help students build proficiency makes sense. I definitely would like to see the portfolio as more of a process throughout the program.

No comments: