Two Views of Electronic Portfolios in Teacher Education: Non-Technology Undergraduates and Technology Graduate Students

By Bartlett, Andrea; Sherry, Annette C. | International Journal of Instructional Media, Summer 2006 | Go to article overview

Two Views of Electronic Portfolios in Teacher Education: Non-Technology Undergraduates and Technology Graduate Students


Bartlett, Andrea, Sherry, Annette C., International Journal of Instructional Media


INTRODUCTION

Technology is increasingly considered to be an essential part of teacher education, not just for technology majors but for all teaching candidates. Schools have accelerated their spending on technology dramatically in recent years (Holt, McAllister & Ingrain, 2001), and there is a growing awareness that pre-service teachers must be prepared to implement this technology for improved student learning.

Electronic portfolios are the ideal vehicle to teach technology during teacher education, since they provide the many benefits of traditional teaching portfolios, plus the added benefit of learning state-of-the-art educational technologies. Teaching portfolios encourage self-assessment and reflection (McLaughlin & Vogt, 1996), and they provide a broader, more contextualized view of teaching than is possible with assessments such as standardized tests (Shulman, 1998). Electronic portfolios enhance traditional teaching portfolios by allowing the use of sound and text as well as animation, voice-over explanations and scanned images to display teaching development (Wiedmer, 1998).

While creating their portfolios, teacher education students learn technology they will be able to use in their future teaching. This is important since teacher education is the most direct, efficient, and cost-effective way to prepare teachers to use technology in their classrooms (Faison, 1996).

This paper describes the experiences of two faculty members who implemented electronic portfolios with their teacher education students. One author is a teacher education faculty member who used electronic portfolios with non-technology undergraduate students. The other author is a faculty member in the department of educational technology who used electronic portfolios with her graduate students. Upon completion of the project, both groups of students completed a questionnaire in which they evaluated the project on items later categorized as: technology/resources, creation process, feedback/grading, and completed portfolio.

The study is based on the earlier research of one of the authors. The same undergraduate students as in the present study responded to six open-ended questions at the end of the first, third and fourth semesters of their two-year teacher education program. Responses on the three sets of questionnaires were coded using the constant comparative method (Strauss, 1987). That is, entries were read and reread for possible categories. Once categories emerged, entries were reread and recoded as necessary. Evaluations disclosed several advantages of electronic portfolios, including opportunities to learn about educational technology and new ways to organize and present ideas. However, some undergraduates complained of time and equipment problems. When asked to rate the electronic portfolio assignment on a scale of 1-10, the means were above 7 all three semesters (7.56, 7.46 and 7.43). Reasons for the lowest ratings had to do with constraints described in earlier questions (e.g., time, equipment). Students giving the electronic portfolio the highest score seemed to agree the assignment "was hands on and challenging but the experience was worth it." The researcher concluded the electronic portfolio assignment educated the preservice teachers in computer-based technology and provided faculty with a performance-based assessment of teaching development. Categories from this research were used to develop the survey items for the present study.

METHOD

Participants were students in a College of Education in a research university in the western part of the United States. One group of 23 non-technology undergraduate students was preparing for certification in both general and special education. The second group consisted of 14 graduate students who were preparing for careers in educational technology. Both groups were predominately female and Asian American.

All 37 students created multimedia electronic portfolios over the two years or longer of their programs, with the support of technical assistants and a well-equipped, well-staffed Technology Learning Center. …

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