Digital Portfolios in Physical Education Teacher Preparation: With Digital Portfolios, Preservice Students Can Directly Demonstrate Competence through Audio and Video Components

Article excerpt

Documenting preservice teachers' competence for graduation is one of the great challenges of teacher education programs. Most teacher education programs base admission to, and completion of, a program on set standards such as a grade-point average, completion of methods courses in a specific content area, observations, field work, internship in a school setting, and passing scores on a teacher competency exam. Unfortunately, successful completion of these requirements does not necessarily guarantee that beginning teachers are fully prepared for their first year of teaching. Although preservice teachers may demonstrate their competency, they are not always held fully accountable for P-12 student performance. In addition to teacher competency, teacher accountability is linked with P-12 student performance (Elmore, 1997). With P-12 student performance at the center of accountability, there is mounting pressure for performance-based assessment. Teachers are required to show a command of the knowledge of their content area, the ability to convey this knowledge to students, and the capacity to assess their own teaching based on student work samples and reflective practices.

Why a Portfolio?

The National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) has adopted new standards, developed by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE, 2001), for physical education teacher education programs. These new standards evaluate teacher education programs based on "teacher candidate" performances from the beginning stages of becoming a teacher to the continuing stages of teaching upon graduation. Because of this accountability, many universities are searching for ways to provide evidence of teacher-candidate growth.

One way of displaying this growth is by using portfolios. Campbell, Cignetti, Melenyzer, Nettles, and Wyman (1997) define a portfolio as an organized, goal-driven collection of evidence. As a form of authentic assessment, portfolios have been popular with preservice and inservice teachers for about the last 10 years. Teachers have used them to demonstrate knowledge and professional development and for certification purposes (Adams, 1995; Tierney, 1993; Wolf, 1996). Portfolio assessment is a complex process when compared with traditional classroom-observation instruments, but portfolios have two advantages over observation and testing. One advantage is that portfolio development allows the teacher to build a professional model of assessment, as opposed to more traditional models (Bullock & Hawk, 2001). Another advantage is that teachers who develop portfolios reportedly experience considerable professional growth from engaging in the process (Bullock & Hawk, 2001). To summarize, portfolio development enables prospective teachers to demonstrate that they meet a given set of standards, show that they are effective in their teaching, and take charge of their own training.

Part of proving teacher competence involves infusing technology into the art of teaching. The National Council on Accreditation of Teacher Education now devotes an entire standard to technology (NASPE, 2001). This standard states that physical education teachers should use information technology to improve P-12 learning and to enhance personal and professional growth. Teacher education programs that wish to gain NCATE accreditation must show that their teacher candidates are competent users of technology. Through development of a digital portfolio, teacher candidates can demonstrate their competence as a teacher and their ability to infuse technology into their teaching. The purpose of this article is to discuss digital portfolios as an avenue for evaluating teacher-candidate competence relative to current NASPE/NCATE standards. Examples are provided for professors of pedagogy and teacher candidates.

Advantages of Going Digital

Digital portfolios (also known as electronic portfolios) have many advantages over paper portfolios. …