Web-Based Digital Teaching Portfolios: Fostering Reflection and Technology Competence in Preservice Teacher Education Students

Article excerpt

This article describes the findings of a qualitative study to examine preservice teacher education students' experiences and reasons for creating digital teaching portfolios. Also, it examines the advantages and challenges of creating digital teaching portfolios. Findings indicate that the process of creating digital teaching portfolios was a constructivist one that fostered self-confidence in students' professional and technical skills. Also, students enrolled in the course to enhance their technology skills, for guidance in the process of developing a digital teaching portfolio, and to create a portfolio that would make them more marketable.

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    The use of teaching portfolios in evaluating teacher performance is
    expanding, having been given particular attention by the National
    Board for Professional Teaching Standards, which requires teachers
    seeking national certification to submit portfolios to assessors for
    examination. (Cooper, 1997)

Many teacher educators in schools, colleges, and departments of education (SCDE's) have been expanding their views about how they might measure teacher competence and knowledge. Traditionally in the United States, measures only involved the use of standardized approaches such as the Praxis Series, Professional Assessments for Beginning Teachers (see http://www.ets.org/praxis), which have been typically administered to teacher candidates prior to entering a teacher education program and for earning licensure. However, today, more and more SCDE's are also using authentic measures such as teaching portfolios (Wray, 2001) to provide more information about a teacher's ability to teach. McKinney (1998) contends that "[teacher] educators have found that well-constructed portfolios may help to capture the complexities of learning, teaching, and learning to teach when used as authentic assessment tools within courses and programs in Colleges of Education" (p. 85). A teaching portfolio, according to Shulman (1998), 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" (p. 37). Thus, teaching portfolios can serve to document teacher candidates' competence and growth during the course of their entire teacher education program, and beyond.

Teacher educators have also been exploring the creation of digital teaching portfolios by teacher candidates. Digital teaching portfolios, sometimes referred to as multimedia portfolios, electronic portfolios, e-folios, webfolios, and electronically-augmented portfolios, are similar to traditional teaching portfolios in content but present professional materials in digital format. Professional materials included in digital teaching portfolios are presented using a combination of digital or electronic media such as audio recordings, hypermedia programs, database, spreadsheet, video, and word processing software.

This article describes a qualitative study of preservice teacher education students who participated in a one-credit course at a public school of education in the mid-Atlantic states. The purpose of the study was to learn the participants' purpose(s) in creating digital teaching portfolios and to investigate the process they employed to create them. The following questions were the basis of the study:

1. Why did preservice teacher education students take the course in the first place?

2. How did preservice teacher education students organize and create their digital teaching portfolios?

3. What did preservice teacher education students learn as a result of creating their digital teaching portfolios?

4. What are the advantages/challenges of using the World Wide Web (WWW or Web) for preservice teacher education students to publish their digital teaching portfolios?

BRIEF REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

Portfolios

Although portfolios have been used widely in many disciplines such as architecture and the arts, and in all levels of education, from elementary to post-secondary education, (Mokhtari, Yellin, Bull, & Montgomery, 1996), many definitions exist in the literature regarding portfolios and the types of portfolios that exist. …