Preparing Preservice Teachers to Implement Performance Assessment and Technology through Electronic Portfolios

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    Preparing Preservice Teachers to ImplementPerformance Assessment and Technology throughElectronic PortfoliosAndrea Bartlett aa University of Hawai'i , Manoa , USAPublished online: 04 Jan 2012.

    To cite this article: Andrea Bartlett (2002) Preparing Preservice Teachers to Implement PerformanceAssessment and Technology through Electronic Portfolios, Action in Teacher Education, 24:1, 90-97, DOI:10.1080/01626620.2002.10463270

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  • Preparing Preservice Teachers to Implement Performance Assessment and Technology through Electronic Portfolios

    Andrea Bartlett University of Hawai'i at Manoa


    This qualitative study considers the use of electronic portfolios in teacher education and evaluates responses from 26 preservice teachers (PSTs). The PSTs used presentation sofrware and multimedia to recreate two instructional units they had taught to elementary school children. Following completion of each unit, PSTs responded to open-ended questions in which they evaluated the electronic portfolio assignment. The PSTs rated the assignment positively (7.51 on a 10-point scale). Evaluations disclosed several advantages, including opportunities to learn about educational technology and new ways to organize and present ideas. Some PSTS complained of time and equipment problems. Overall, the electronic portfolio assignment educated the preservice teachers in computer-based technology and provided faculty with a performance-based assessment of teaching development.


    Performance-based assessment has experienced a surge of interest in recent years. In contrast to traditional pencil- and-paper tests, this newer type of assessment is based on a collaborative, active learning model, with the goal of assuring success on "real world" tasks (Spady & Marshall, 1991). According to Mitchell and Crawford (1993, "Performance assessment is the measure of whether or not-and to what degree-students achieve the standards" (p. 78). Students are informed of performance standards, most often through rubrics, and they have opportunities to improve through self-reflection and faculty mentoring (Wigle & White, 1998).

    This change in attitude towards assessment has led to the increased use of one form of performance assessment, in particular: portfolios. While professions such as art, architecture, and journalism have a long history of using portfolios, their use in education is a fairly recent phenomenon. Some classroom teachers have reported using portfolios to document students' work as early as the 1960s (Elbow & Belanoff, 1997). However, it was not until the mid-1980s that key articles about portfolios began appearing in the educational literature (e.g., Burnham, 1986; Camp, 1985; Elbow & Belanoff, 1986).

    At about the same time, researchers at Stanford University's Teacher Assessment Project experimented with models of teaching portfolios with the goal of providing a broader, more contextualized view of teaching than is possible with standardized tests (Shulman, 1998). As defined by Shulman:

    A teaching portfolio is the structured, documentary history of a set of coached or mentored acts of teaching, substantiated by samples of student portfolios, and fully realized only through reflective writing, deliberation, and conversation. I think all of those parts are necessary--but I may be wrong. (p. 37)

    Now with the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards, Shulman and his colleagues are taking assessment beyond the four traditional forms of validity--concurrent validity, predictive validity, content validity, and construct validity- -to require consequential validity, or positive impact on teaching development (Shulman, 1998). Some states are following this lead and requiring teaching portfolios for initial licensure.

    Wolf (1 999) has delineated three types of teacher portfolios. Learning portfolios are "personalized collections of teachers' work that emphasize ownership and self-assessment . . . The main purpose of the learning portfolio is to provide teachers with an opportunity to explore, extend, showcase, and reflect on their own learning" (p. 12). Assessment portfolios are "selective collections of teachers' work and standardized assessments . . . .The primary purpose of this type of portfolio is to evaluate teacher performance for certification licensure, or professional advancement" (p. I 3). Employment portfolios are "customized and attractive collections of information given by teachers to prospective employers and are intended to establish a teacher's suitability for a specific professional position" (p. 14). While teacher education faculty tend to emphasize the learning and assessment potential of portfolios, students may be more interested in using their portfolios for gaining employment (Breault, 2000).

    Even more recent than teaching portfolios is the use of electronic portfolios to organize and store evidence of teaching development. Kovalchick, Milman and Elizabeth (1 998) compared technology (electronic) portfolios and traditional portfolios:





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  • A technology portfolio is similar to a traditional portfolio, but it specifically addresses technology skills and issues. Also, the medium is different since it is organized using a combination of electronic media such as hypermedia programs, database, spreadsheet, and word processing software, as well as CD-ROMs and the World Wide Web. Technology portfolios can be print-based, saved in a computer disk, compiled on a CD-ROM or HomePage, or a combination of the above. (p. 4)

    This paper describes my experiences implementing an electronic portfolio assignment with teacher education students who were preparing to be certified in elementary and special education. Tbenty-six students used multimedia to present two units they had taught to elementary school children. Following completion of each unit, students responded to open-ended questions in which they evaluated the electronic portfolio assignment and suggested changes.

    Context and Motivation for the Study

    The University of Hawaii's two-year teacher education program assigns undergraduates to cohorts of approximately 25 students. Students who are preparing to be elementary school teachers attend most classes in their assigned cohorts. The program relies heavily on field experience: Students spend up to two days a week in elementary classrooms during the three semesters prior to full-time student teaching. University faculty and classroom mentor teachers collaborate in planning and supervising all field experiences.

    As a faculty member, I have found it difficult to assess students' performance in their field experience placements. My past practice has included a combination of faculty observations, student learning journals, and mentor teacher mid- semester and final assessments. Over a two-year period, students had combined selected materials from these assessments with lesson and unit plans to create notebook portfolios. However, this led to overflowing boxes that filled my office.

    Electronic portfolios caught my interest because they provide a way for students to show clear evidence of their teaching development in a form that is easy to share, update, and store. Captioned still and video images are presented in computer formats, including CD-ROM, Zip disk or Internet. Still images may include documents, photographs, and reflections. Video images are brief clips (generally two minutes or less) of students teaching groups of children.

    Creating electronic portfolios also increases students' comfort with techno