Using eportfolio to address professional standards in a teacher education programme: The student voice

Lyn Lewis, Philippa Gerbic

Abstract


Electronic portfolios are presented in the literature as a technological tool with significant potential for professional application (JISC, 2008). Since the introduction of Graduating Teacher Standards (GTS) by the New Zealand Teachers Council in 2007, all pre-service teacher education programmes are required to demonstrate their achievement through programme design. Eportfolios are an ideal vehicle for evidencing such achievement through their potential to support synthesis of theory and practice in self-appraisal against standards (Strudler & Wetzel, 2005), facilitate reflective practice (Stefani and Mason, 2007; Lin, 2008), demonstrate professional growth and development over time (Barrett, 2005). Furthermore, eportfolios have been conceptualized as both a process and a product (Darling, 2001) thus meeting the dual expectation of supporting and facilitating learning as well as showcasing end-product artefacts. In New Zealand the introduction of eportfolios is a recent innovation, and not much is known about the ways in which learners view this technology or the ways in which it might support their learning and development, particularly against professional standards.

The aim of this research project was to explore student perspectives of learning through eportfolio in a Bachelor of Education programme at AUT University. A small self-selected sample of students from two consecutive cohorts participated in the 2009/2010 project. Questions related to GTS were embedded in two of the research questions: (1) How does an eportfolio help students to learn? and ((2) How does the eportfolio contribute to growth and development of students as emergent professionals?

Philosophically the research was located within the Interpretivist paradigm. Drawing on conceptions of naturalistic inquiry (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000) where reality is recognised as complex, influencing students both individually and within a broader social learning context, the researchers sought to collect participant views through focus groups and interviews. This qualitative data was analysed through an inductive approach of categorising and seeking themes.

The first finding suggests authentic assessment related to Graduating Standards provides reassuring evidence to pre-service student teachers of their growth and development towards beginning teacher status. Secondly, eportfolio activities can support a range of thinking skills linked to achievement of Standards such as purposeful goal-focussed thinking, evidencing and relating, reflecting and appraising. Thirdly, eportfolios and Standards are perceived by pre-service students to have value for employability and in supporting their transition to the workplace.

We contribute to current debate by arguing against a 'tick-box' approach to Standards which might signal surface learning. We argue for deep learning through a holistic approach which utilizes the potential of eportfolios to shift pre-service students towards greater professional autonomy through self-assessment against Standards.

Keywords


electronic portfolios; graduating standards; qualitative research; student perspectives

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21153/jtlge2012vol3no1art555

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