Posts Tagged ‘ePortfolios’

ePortfolios for Assessment

In how people learn, teaching with technology on February 28, 2011 at 2:10 pm

I am attending the Western AAEEBL conference in Salt Lake City Utah on ePortfolios. Helen Barrett was the lunchtime speaker and she provided a great deal of information which I have compiled in tweets at the #11WAAEEBL hastag. [To find those, go to Twitter and type that hashtag in the search box.] Barrett discussed 3  points that I want to note here:

  1. Label the eportfolio with an adjective so we know its purpose, e.g. learning eportfolio
  2. Mobile technology is important for future technologies
  3. Digital storytelling is more than entertainment; it’s also a method of learning

Those items have given me food for thought as I continue my journey to determine whether ePortfolios are solid assessment tool. I’ve discussed this a little bit in a previous post.

The “A” Word-Using ePortfolios

In how people learn on November 26, 2010 at 8:57 am

The “A” word is Assessment. I blogged about it a couple of days ago and noted that I’d talk about my foray into ePortfolios.

I am reminded of the saying “something old is new again” (although I can’t recall it’s source….). At one point in my children’s education, portfolios was popular.  Some of  you may recall that period. My children were asked to collect their papers to present to teachers and outsiders to evaluate their work. I recall at least one of my children had a porfolio filled with crumpled papers that demonstrated that he wasn’t as concerned with appearance as content!

ePortfolios are based on similar principles. In October, 2010, I had the opportunity to attend a conference at which Dr. Helen Barrett, preeminate expert on ePortfolios, made a presentation.  ePortfolios can be used as formative and/or summative assessments. Dr. Barrett summarizes ePortfolios as ” an electronic collection of evidence that shows your learning journey over time. Portfolios can relate to specific academic fields or your lifelong learning. Evidence may include writing samples, photos, videos, research projects, observations by mentors and peers, and/or reflective thinking. The key aspect of an eportfolio is your reflection on the evidence, such as why it was chosen and what you learned from the process of developing your eportfolio.”

I used ePortfolios during a one year period and hope to use them again in the Spring 2011 semester in at least one class. I used Mahara, an open source ePortfolio system. I used the ePortfolio to (1)encourage student self reflection on their learning as related to the course learning outcomes and (2)encourage student reflection on the work in my course and other courses as they related to the overall mission of the school. I’m currently compiling the results of that use, but the results were mixed, as indicated by the following table.

Table-ePortfolio Student ReactionI still have a great deal of work to do to use ePortfolios to more effectively support assessment, self-assessment and metacognition. But I have great hopes that they can be used, in conjunction with other assessment tools, to reliably and validly assess learning.

The “A” word–Assessment

In how people learn on November 23, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Measuring student learning is one of instructor’s most difficult tasks. Assessment is also a difficult task for institutions.

In the article Measuring Student Learning, Many Tools, David Glenn, discusses the issue as an institutional issue and points out that a group of institutions have combined to study different methods of assessment. The group, headed by Charles Blaich, director of Wabash College’s Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts, seeks to collect data to determine effectiveness. Cr. Blaich encourages universities to use a variety of tools, as appropriate for the school, to collect data. He also encourages universities to use data they already collect, when possible.

I’ve used a variety of assessment methods in my classes: exams, scoring rubrics, ePortfolios using Mahara (an open source program) and now possibly Taskstream and  computer based testing (such as Criterion, a writing program). I have tried mind mapping, graphic organizers, research papers, short papers, multiple quizzes, take home exams, and oral presentations.

The tension is palpable. I can measure whether someone has memorized the content most easily through a test. I can measure critical thinking and ability to apply through a test. However, does that demonstrate learning or deep learning?  How does one measure learning (see this website, Approaches to Study: Deep and Surface, for more on the concept of deep learning) ?  Measure critical thinking? Measure successful integration of information learned with information previously learned?

So, I muddle along, measuring learning based on how my learning was measured (primarily through multiple-choice, true-false, essay, standardized, nationwide, validated tests-depending on when and what) and I add in what I learn from attending conferences, listening to experts and applying what I’ve learned to my classes in an effort to truly encourage and measure learning. Is it successful? It depends on who you ask.

That’s enough for this post; next post I’ll briefly discuss my foray into ePortfolios, my current preferred assessment method when I have adequate time to process the student information.

As you can see,  I will continue to struggle with the “A” word!