Interdisciplinary Digital Portfolio Assessment: Creating Tools for Teacher Education

Article excerpt

Introduction

The eager anticipation of the widespread and multifaceted use of digital portfolios by preservice teacher education majors has brought the new challenge in assessment of digital products to institutions of teacher education throughout the United States. This challenge is magnified when preservice teachers are studying in various areas of licensure, many of which are traditionally housed in various colleges throughout a university. The following article provides the processes and reflections, the influences on the process and criteria, and the resulting rubric that emerged when a university-wide committee was formed to create an assessment rubric for a newly adopted digital portfolio initiative.

Throughout the United States, three conditions guide how institutions of teacher education approach the integration of technology into teacher education programs. (1) University faculty and students need the tools, environments, and on- going professional development to integrate technology into teacher education curriculum. (2) New national accreditation standards are requiring schools of education to prepare new teachers and administrators who can integrate technology into their curricula. (3) Licensure and certification are now requiring proficiency in technology integration for new teachers and administrators. Our institution's response to these guiding conditions is centered on the newly adopted requirement of a web-based digital portfolio for all preservice teachers.

The Indiana Professional Standards Board mandated that beginning in Fall 2002 our university have in place an approved performance-based Unit Assessment Plan (UAS). During the previous four years a campus-wide group called the Teacher Education Performance Assessment Steering Committee (TEPASC) worked on creating procedures for achieving this mandate. Specific to the knowledge, dispositions, and performances expected of teaching majors, TEPASC recommended that: (a) individual colleges provide multiple opportunities for each student to demonstrate and document an understanding of the P-12 proficiencies identified by the state, and (b) students demonstrate and document successful experiences in planning and executing lessons directly related to content or developmentally relevant state identified P-12 proficiencies.

The national trend toward performance assessment encourages national and state standards bodies to require institutions who prepare teachers to depart radically from traditional curricula and assessment means to achieve more authentic, "real world" ways of verifying the preparedness of education graduates. This shift in assessment began in the mid-1980s as a response to the nature of "paper-testing" for a teaching license (Lyons, 1998). Performance assessment in teacher education challenges the relationship between testing for licensure and actual teaching performance. The essence of performance assessment is to evaluate more accurately what effective teachers must know and be able to do in the classroom.

Massive reform efforts beginning in the 1980's advocated for alternative assessment in teacher education. The introduction of portfolios, and other forms of performance-based assessments, reflects an increasing dissatisfaction with traditional assessment methods, which do not attend to process and authenticity. Portfolios have emerged as a popular tool and are supported by principles, such as providing a new perspective on learning, individual progress, self-evaluation, or reflection. Thus, portfolios in initial teacher education programs represent alternative assessments as demonstrations of learning rather than other indirect indicators of competency (Shepard, 2000).

Digital Portfolios in Performance Assessment

Digital portfolios have been identified as one performance assessment instrument available to preservice teachers for demonstrating and documenting their individual understanding and abilities related to these multiple proficiencies (Bullock & Hawk, 2001). …