by Carla Hagen Piper

University of the Pacific


Three education reform themes concerning the preparation of teachers for the 21st Century converge in this study: teacher accountability to professional certification standards, authentic assessment, and the use of advanced technologies. The question of how to use technology effectively in the assessment of teacher candidates to demonstrate achievement of course objectives based on state certification standards led to the development of the electronic portfolio project in a small university multiple subject credential program. The process of preparing an electronic portfolio using computer and multimedia technology was examined from the perspective of twelve teacher candidates enrolled in reading methods classes. This research was a multiple case study in which qualitative data was obtained through open-ended interviews with the teacher candidates, the course professor, and the computer lab technician, as well as through analysis of the electronic portfolio product. Whether the electronic portfolio could be considered an effective tool for documenting teacher candidate performance and the achievement of course objectives was the primary question investigated in this study.

Themes and patterns that emerged from interviews, portfolio reflections, and field records kept by the researcher were examined through Ethnograph, a qualitative data software analysis program, in order to gather information concerning the teacher candidate’s experience of collecting and preserving digital artifacts to be used as evidence of demonstrating competencies. The teacher candidate’s perceptions of the strengths and weaknesses, as well as the software and hardware problems encountered during the electronic portfolio process, were explored. Written reflections within the electronic portfolio framework were examined to gain insight into the student’s process of self-reflection and self-assessment. A computer literacy questionnaire was administered prior to the study in order to determine previous experience with and attitude toward technology. The researcher’s process of creating templates in hypertext markup language (HTML) and Hyperstudio, a multimedia authoring software program, provided further insight into the design and implementation of the electronic portfolio project.

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Copyright 1999 by Carla Hagen Piper