The U.S. Department of Education Strategic Plan, 1998-2002, called for a talented and dedicated teacher in every classroom and recommended that each state align licensing and certification requirements with challenging content standards and performance-based assessments. The strategic plan supported the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) and "programs that reward good teachers and address the problems of incompetent ones" (p.7). The NBPTS has been currently developing advanced standards for teacher in more than 30 certification fields. The certification process was to be performance based, requiring new assessment procedures and strategies. Teachers were to apply for national board certification by demonstrating their professional skills, knowledge and accomplishments through a two-part assessment process.
The NBPTS certification process required that the teacher take responsibility for managing and monitoring student learning, using a variety of evaluation methods to track student progress. Their knowledge extended to creating innovative tools for evaluation, including portfolios, videotapes, demonstrations and exhibitions. NBPTS required that teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience. Accomplished teachers "have the ability to reason and take multiple perspectives, to be creative and take risks, and to adopt an experimental and problem-solving orientation" (1998b).
In the first phase of NBPTS assessment, teachers were to build a portfolio to show evidence of good teaching practice and to demonstrate how their teaching meets the advanced standards. Portfolios included artifacts, videotapes, examples of student work, and reflections relating to the selected teaching and learning sequence and the role of on going teacher assessment. The second component of the assessment involved a full day of written tasks and assessment exercises to be completed at an assessment center. Candidates for National Board Certification spend approximately 120 hours on assessment activities over the course of a school year (1998b).
The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) revised standards for schools of education in 1995. NCATE called for rigorous standards closely aligned with core academic and skill standards for students. National funding for supporting the strengthening of state licensure standards for beginning teachers was a part of the broader goal of helping all students master the basic and reach high academic standards (IASA, 1997a). States vary in how they license classroom teachers, but more than 30 states have been working on the development of high-quality performance assessments of knowledge and skills for new teachers.
Standards for licensing new teachers in California were revised in 1997 based on the California New Teacher Project (CNPT) and the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) programs. The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) presented The California Standards for the Teaching Profession as a guide for teachers as they define and develop their practice. Theses standards reflected the fact that California teachers are "serving the most diverse population of students in the history of education" (p. 4). CTC stated that teachers must be responsive to the needs of the inclusive classroom in which students with varying learning styles and abilities, from diverse cultural, racial, religious, ethnic, linguistic, and socio-economic backgrounds, are to be engaged and challenged as learners (p. 4). These standards encouraged first and second year teachers to continue their development through "intensive learning activities that build on their pre-service preparation and lead to lifelong professional development" (p. 4). New teachers were encouraged to reflect on student learning and teaching practice and formulate professional goals to improve teaching practice.
The CTC standards were to be used by teachers to "guide, monitor, and assess the progress of a teacher's practice toward professional goals and professionally-accepted benchmarks" (p. 4). The California standards related to six categories of teaching practice:
The ERIC Digest Series included numerous electronic documents on the general topic of alternative assessment, sometimes called authentic assessment, performance-based assessment, portfolio assessment, direct assessment, or developmentally appropriate assessment. Bowers (1989) discussed the problems of standardized testing which has brought about the trend toward new alternatives in assessment. He stated that many school districts have adopted a "test-driven curriculum" and have been "teaching to the test." He supported a criterion-referenced approach that would reflect mastery of skills being tested, rather than a norm-referenced approach. Sweet and Zimmerman (1992) presented methods that have been used successfully to assess performance. Because performance assessments require students to actively demonstrate what they know, these authors felt that performance assessment may be a more valid indicator of students’ knowledge and abilities.
Authentic and performance-based assessment grew out of developments in cognitive research on how people learn. In his book, Frames of Mind (1983), Gardner stated that our culture has defined intelligence too narrowly. The measure of intelligence has been based on the verbal/linguistic or logical/mathematical intelligences, with emphasis on the highly verbal intelligence test developed in 1904 by Binet and the later developmental examinations of logical/linguistic problem-solving skills presented by Piaget in the 1920’s. Gardner developed the theory of multiple intelligences, including seven categories of intelligences or "frames of mind." He believed that each person possesses all seven intelligences but these intelligences function in ways unique to each person. In his discussion of Project Spectrum, Gardner pointed out that once these intelligences have been identified, they need to be assessed in a valid way, taking into account each student’s individual differences (1993, pp. 88-89).
In his book, Multiple Intelligences - the Theory in Practice (1993), Gardner described Arts PROPEL, a project aimed at a new approach to curriculum and assessment in the arts: music, visual art, and imaginative writing. He devised curriculum modules called domain projects and linked them to a set of assessment instruments to document artistic learning during the elementary and high school years. The intent was to involve students in meaningful, engaging, exciting, and useful projects. Gardner believed that students should not include only finished works but works in process, rough drafts, critiques of themselves, and works of others that relate to the current project. These "processfolios" were evaluated qualitatively in three areas: production (thinking in the domain), reflection (thinking about the domain), and perception (perceiving in the domain).
The Office of Research in Education presented the ARTS PROPEL research project as an example of successful work in the area of portfolio assessment (1993b). Portfolios were described as selected collections of a variety of performance-based work, including a student's "best pieces" and the student's evaluation of the strengths and weakness of particular pieces. Works in progress were included to show improvements the student made over time (1993a). Grace (1992) promoted the portfolio as realistic, instructionally, and developmentally appropriate assessment. The portfolio was an appropriate evaluation when it compared the student's current work to his or her earlier work. The portfolio was not to be used for comparing students to each other. Instead, the evaluation indicated the student’s progression toward a standard of performance that was consistent with the curriculum and appropriate developmental expectations.
Portfolios supported instruction by informing students of the criteria of quality performance so they could monitor their own learning, engage in activities that result in products to be shared with others, and provide a channel of communication between students and teachers focused on student work (OERI, 1993c, p.1). For administrative purposes, portfolios were being used for accountability reporting and program evaluation. The questions concerning the value of portfolios for administrative decision making related to technical adequacy, comprehensiveness, validity, reliability, and generalizability to other curriculum areas.
According to an IASA newsletter on issues of school reform, the success of portfolio assessment has not been determined. Research on classroom instruction in two states using portfolio assessment, Kentucky and Vermont, indicated that "teachers spend more time training students to think critically and solve complex problems that they did previously" (IASA, 1996a, p.1). The Arizona Student Assessment Program reported little instructional change in most schools due to lack of state support for teachers trying to change their teaching strategies (IASA, 1996a). Research on the Arizona program demonstrated that alternative assessment has not been effective in closing the gap between white and minority students. Remedial and lower track classes included a larger proportion of racial and ethnic minorities due to lower standardized test scores. As a result, more classroom time was spent on test preparation and learning basic skills rather than on higher-order thinking skills addressed with higher performing students. Attempts were being made at establishing greater equity by providing every student with the support and resources that were needed to master higher level content. An additional complication with alternative assessment was the higher cost of performance-based assessments in comparison to the multiple-choice tests that could be scored electronically. (IASA, 1996a, p.3)
The Office of Research in Education indicated that many existing student portfolios did not contain sufficient information for administrative uses (1993c, p. 3). Recommendations for improvement of the portfolio assessment process included: the use of multiple measures of assessment as a evidence of student accomplishment; development of general criteria encompassing a wide variety of projects and products; inclusion of "on-demand" tasks that all students complete as part of their portfolio collection; and use of more than one rater for each portfolio. Researchers have determined that using at least 10 tasks to assess a student's understanding of a particular subject area added to the generalizability of the portfolio assessment (OERI, 1993c, p.4). If the purpose of the portfolio was to provide instructional support, students would have greater flexibility in content and creativity. However, the administrative use of portfolios requireed greater standardization (OERI, 1993c, p.5).
The 1998 winter issue of Teacher Education Quarterly featured studies on the use of portfolios in teacher education programs. In the editor's preface, Jones (1998) stated that "portfolios have assumed a significant role in teacher education" (p.3). In California, the development of teaching portfolios grew out of the discussions of a Special Interest Group (SIG) of the California Council on the Education of Teachers (CCET). This group met to discuss how to structure portfolios and determine whether a teacher's portfolio could be used to assess teacher performance. Bartell, Kaye, & Morin (1998a) explained that portfolios were valuable to students for promoting reflection and self-directed growth, building good teaching habits, encouraging collaborative dialogue and enriched discussions, documenting growth over time, and "integrating the diversity of their teacher preparation experiences" ( p. 6).
Anderson and DeMeulle (1998) surveyed 127 teacher educators throughout the United States to examine portfolio practices in teacher preparation programs. Findings indicated that specific purposes include promoting student learning and development (96 %), encouraging student self-assessment and reflection (92%), providing evidence for assessment and accountability (88%), and documenting growth of pre-service teachers (88%). Ninety-two percent stated that portfolios had a positive impact on preservice teachers because portfolios were student-centered, defined by professional standards, and reflective (pp. 26-27). Portfolios were viewed as "self-empowering tools that encourage preservice teachers to assume more responsibility for their learning" (p. 26). Anderson and DeMeulle (1998) reported that faculty respondents demonstrated a growing interest in the use of state and national professional standards as a part of portfolio development (p. 27). Portfolios were reported as having a positive impact on teacher education programs as indicated by increased collaboration and collegiality among faculty and agreement about program outcomes (p. 28).
Wolf (1996) described a teaching portfolio as a "collection of information about a teacher's practice" (p. 86). He stated that the collection should be more than a scrapbook of miscellaneous artifacts and lists of professional activities. The introductory section should include the student's teaching philosophy and goals. The concluding section should include ongoing professional development and formal evaluations. At the heart of the portfolio, however, should be a combination of teaching artifacts and written reflections. He emphasized that artifacts should be framed with clear identifications, contextual explanations, and reflective commentaries that examine the teaching documented in the portfolio. These reflections go beyond describing the contents and focus on what the teacher and students learned (p. 88). Wolf suggested that students include an informal or formal self-assessment of the portfolio. He stated that a formal assessment should be tied to specific criteria or performance standards such as those provided by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS).
Dietz (1995) described the San Diego Professional Development Consortium project (June, 1987) that gave birth to the concept of the professional development portfolio. The professional development portfolio was considered a combination of three types of portfolios: the presentation portfolio, the working portfolio, and the learner portfolio. The presentation portfolio provided an introduction presenting an individual's accomplishments, learning, strengths, and expertise. The working portfolio was "a collection of assignments, artifacts, and other evidence that fulfilled prescribed competencies, standards, or outcomes" (1995, p. 41). The learner portfolio was a reflection of knowledge, experiences, and feelings, which allowed the student to describe specific learning outcomes. Dietz stated that the professional development portfolio was based on four features: purpose, focus, process, and outcomes (1995, p. 41). Students clarified their purpose and formulated a credo that described their basic values and belief systems. They focused on areas of greatest interest and concern, built a plan for collaborating, learning, and reflection, and prepared "exhibitions that describe learning" (1995, p. 41).
Dietz (1995) described the portfolio process that has been used in Orange County, Florida since 1993 as having a "positive impact on building collegial cultures and helping teachers examine the role of assessment in their classrooms" (p. 40). The evaluation of the project determined that teachers became more aware of the learning process for themselves and their students, evaluated themselves and informed administrators about their growth, used alternative assessment techniques with their students, and tried innovations and collaborative techniques they would not have tried previously. Sites that have been currently involved in using the professional development portfolio included Contra Costa County in California, the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, the California Beginning Teacher support and Assessment (BTSA), and the New York City school system (Dietz, 1995).
Wolf and Dietz (1998) defined a teaching portfolio as a "process for examining teaching and learning in a focused and structured fashion, for sharing these insights with others, and for improving what we do in schools" (p. 13). They described the essential features to be included in all teaching portfolios:
A teaching portfolio is a structured collection of teacher and student work created across diverse contexts over time, framed by reflection and enriched through collaboration, that has as its ultimate aim the advancement of teacher and student learning. (Wolf & Dietz, 1998, p. 13).Wolf and Dietz (1998) described the teaching portfolio as purposeful, selective, diverse, ongoing, reflective, and collaborative (p. 13). They believed that both teacher and student artifacts should be included as actual evidence to be used in the evaluation of a teacher's performance. The portfolio should be structured around professional standards as well as school and individual goals. Wolf and Dietz (1998) believed that portfolios were particularly valuable because they could present developmental process over time and through a variety of contexts. They emphasized that collecting artifacts of teaching were not sufficient without reflective commentary examining teaching and learning. Portfolios should demonstrate collaboration and interaction with students, parents, teachers, and administrators. Wolf and Dietz (1998) stated that the ultimate purpose of constructing a portfolio was to improve a teacher's practice and advance teacher and student learning.
Wolf and Dietz (1998) identified three distinct portfolio models: learning, assessment, and employment. These were similar to the models Dietz (1995) described in her earlier research. Each model had a different purpose. The learning portfolio was to give the teacher an opportunity to "explore, extend, showcase, and reflect on their own learning" (p. 16). The primary purpose of the assessment portfolio was to "evaluate teacher performance for certification, licensure, or professional advancement" (p. 16). The employment portfolio was to help the student obtain a job.
The portfolio's purpose determined the form it would take (Wolf & Dietz, 1998). The structure of a portfolio could be open-ended or highly organized, contain idiosyncratic collections or standardized sets of performances, or include ongoing self-assessments or formal evaluations (Wolf & Dietz, 1998, p. 17). The learning portfolio was open-ended and teacher or student determined, including periodic reflections and self-assessments. The assessment portfolio was highly structured and standardized, with a clearly specified set of teacher products and assessments. The employment portfolio was semi-structured with job search documents such as resume, transcripts, recommendations, as well as teacher generated products and records. Each portfolio had its strengths and weaknesses. The learning portfolio promoted independent learning, but was "too cumbersome for employment purposes" (Wolf & Dietz, 1998, p. 19). The strength of the assessment portfolio was that it could be more comprehensive and standardized. The weakness of this highly structured model was that individual learning goals may be sacrificed.
Grant and Huebner (1998) discussed the powerful learning that takes place in prospective teachers as they incorporate personal beliefs into professional practice (p. 33). They described powerful learning as a "self-regulated process" in which the mind is "proactive, problem-oriented, attentionally focused, selective, constructive, and directed toward ends" (p. 34). The teacher education program was described as a constructivist learning community that encouraged the asking of questions, the clarification of ideas, the posing of explanations, and the justification of action as teacher knowledge was constructed and integrated into professional practice (p.35). In Grant and Huebner's (1998) Stanford University study on portfolios, two professional "habits of mind" were examined. These included the view of teaching as inquiry and the view of collaborative learning as "the way to come to know teaching" (p. 36).
A self-designed pedagogical question was chosen to guide the inquiry of the portfolio. The portfolio question was based on classroom practice, was personally relevant to its author, and was considered essential, honest, and well crafted. The portfolio question focused on central problems with instruction in the classroom. Students met with an audience of their peers to share their questions and explain, clarify, justify and elaborate on the meaning (p. 36). Interviews with six individuals were conducted three years after their preservice training. Three of these students acknowledged that they continued to use their portfolio question in everyday planning and assessment as a way of directing inquiry into their teaching and learning. Grant and Huebner (1998) stated that constructivist patterns of thinking were particularly appropriate for teaching preservice teachers. Powerful learning took place when a meaningful question concerning a particular subject or instructional setting was posed, data was collected, and reflection on the relationship between the data and the question was made (p. 41).
Professional standards for teachers have been developed at both the national and state levels as a means of determining what a teacher should know and be able to do when they complete a teacher preparation program. The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) required that each teaching candidate demonstrate meeting standards through documentation and written verification (Bartell, Kaye, & Morin, 1998b, p. 130). Bartell, Kaye, and Morin (1998b) believed that portfolio documentation was an effective way for teacher candidates to present artifacts and evidence demonstrating the meeting of standards. The portfolio was considered a "vehicle for both formative and summative assessment by self and others" (p. 131). Portfolios provided a means of "elevating the dialogue about teaching practice" (p. 131).
Another important element of the portfolio process related to the conversations that took place when evidence was examined, discussed, and reflected upon collaboratively (Bartell, Kaye, & Morin, p. 131). Conversations between students, teachers, and colleagues concerning portfolio entries could result in the posing of questions, sharing of reflections, and a testing of ideas. Mentoring could provide a powerful connection between an experienced professional and a beginning protege and could result in the development of teaching expertise (Bartell, Kaye, & Morin, 1998a, p. 131). Portfolios provided the vehicle for conversation as mentors guide, support, enlighten, and help teachers and students improve (Bartell, Kaye, & Morin, 1998a, p. 133). Bartell, Kaye, & Morin (1998a) recommended that portfolios be developed across the teacher preparation program as a means of providing prospective teachers with opportunities to reflect on their professional competence and creating a product that demonstrates evidence of teaching effectiveness and growth (p. 133). A mentoring conversation concerning an employment portfolio would revolve around determining what can be selected as the student's "best work" and explaining why it is significant in the prospective teacher's experience (p. 136).
Bartell, Kaye, & Morin (1998b) reported research on an introduction to teaching course offered by the Division of Curriculum and Instruction faculty at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA). This course introduced all education students to the format, purpose, and use of teacher constructed portfolios. As students progressed through each course in the program, they were asked to produce evidence that they were meeting CTC and NCATE standards. Students wrote a reflection page for each piece of evidence, discussing the purpose and the effectiveness of each artifact. Faculty members at CSULA generally viewed portfolios as valuable in helping students make connections between coursework and student teaching experiences. Faculty members were working at improving the way in which students show evidence of teaching competencies. They agreed that each professor should support students in specific course content and requirements and provide additional portfolio checkpoints and advisement during student teaching. Informational seminars were being held for faculty and adjunct student teaching supervisors in order to share practices and guide students in the portfolio process (p. 134).
An actual examination of evidence, artifacts of teaching, and conversations between prospective teachers and mentors provided the research base for the California standards (Bartell, Kaye, & Morin, 1998b, p. 136). The "Standard for Engaging and Supporting All Students in Learning" called for student to engage in problem solving, critical thinking, and activities that make subject matter meaningful. Teacher candidates were asked to answer, "How do I..." or "Why do I...." Portfolio evidence to be gathered, examined, and reflected upon could include student work, student assessment, description of teaching strategies used, mentor observations, and personal reflections (Bartell, Kaye, & Morin, 1998b, p. 137). Bartell, Kaye, and Morin (1998b) explained that the practice of linking professional standards with practice as a means of improving discussion, examination, and documentation has been largely unexplored (p. 137). They believed that portfolios could provide a basis for strengthening mentoring dialogue at each stage of a prospective teacher's development (p. 138).
Simmons (1996) felt that portfolios were well suited to the task of documenting the general competencies required of teachers including: knowledge of subject matter, intellectual ability and problem solving, pedagogical skills, curriculum knowledge, knowledge of learning and learners, and attitudes and dispositions considered appropriate for teachers (p. 71). However, Simmons believed that portfolios must allow students both the freedom and the responsibility to determine their own portfolio content and design. He stated that the "future of portfolios in teacher education depends on the ability of educators to focus on purpose, not requirements" (p. 72). Teacher candidates need to be allowed to choose the vehicle for conveying the product of their thought and allowed to show their thinking.
Simmons (1996) described a teaching portfolio for a reading class. He stated that a portfolio should include a "Dear Reader" letter and exhibits of materials collected that demonstrate your assumptions, beliefs, and plans about literacy and its assessment (p. 73). He encouraged the use of portfolio metaphors as a means of teasing out student differences or relationships among current, former, and future experiences (p. 74). Simmons indicated that the important processes in portfolio construction were collection, reflection, and selection (p. 74). He encouraged students to look for interactive artifacts that would indicate the process of what they do (p. 75). Other evidence could include: significant moments that started a process of change, beliefs about teaching, expressions of feeling and emotion, a sense of community, examples of feedback given to students, and goals that they have set and met (p. 76). He included four general rules of selection of artifacts: guide the reader, explain the exhibits, mix the presentation, and include what your supervisor requires (p. 76). Simmons described the interview portfolio as being different from the student teaching portfolio. He recommended that the prospective teacher keep the portfolio brief, highlight a few key ideas, use sub-headings to clarify text, fix labels to exhibits, and mix the presentation with different types of artifacts in a magazine-type layout (p. 79).
Stone (1998) stated that "research supports portfolios as a means for reflection on experience, for linking theory to practice, for teaching assessment, and for professional growth" (p. 106). A study conducted at California State University, Fresno, examined two different groups of student teachers participating in a study to determine an effective method for student portfolio construction. Each of the two groups received differing levels of guidance and support in the process of preparing their portfolios. The majority (75%) of the group that received information on portfolio development near the beginning of their first student teaching experience and additional support throughout the year, believed that portfolios communicated and documented learning and accomplishments (p. 109). The second group began portfolio construction with their final student teaching assignment. Only 48% agreed that portfolios were worthwhile in communicating and documenting learning and accomplishment. All students in the first group felt the portfolio project was successful and worthwhile, whereas only 22% percent of the second group agreed (p. 109).
Stone (1998) determined that students in both groups felt that the major problem with portfolio construction was the lack of time. Other problems included: confusion and limited understanding of the process, lack of assistance from supervisors and master teachers who were not knowledgable and experienced in portfolio construction, difficulty in the collection and selection of artifacts, and difficulty in writing reflections (pp. 110-111). Stone believed that questions of how and when the portfolios should be constructed, as well as what should be included in the portfolio, remain unanswered (p. 112). The conclusions of her study indicated that some students had difficulties developing portfolios but still believed the experience was beneficial. The lack of understanding and the amount of time required for portfolio construction may overwhelm and confuse some students. Introductions to portfolios must be carefully planned and take place early in the teacher preparation program. Students need to be taught how to select artifacts and reflect on their learning. Those who evaluate portfolios need to be knowledgable and experienced. Adequate time should be for individual feedback, assistance and evaluation during the period of portfolio construction (Stone, 1998, p. 113).
Lyons (1998) examined the teacher's development as a reflective practitioner in a longitudinal study of ten graduates of the Southern Maine's Extended Teacher Education Program (ETEP). She conducted open-ended interviews with teaching interns during training and again two years later to determine how ideas concerning reflective practice changed over time. Her research indicated that there was a pattern of reflective processes developing and transforming over time, though initial student reflection may have been simple and rudimentary (p. 119). She believed that the critical conversations concerning the significance of portfolio entries provided a "scaffold that fosters teacher awareness of their knowledge of practice" (p. 121). Two additional observations from this study indicated that one's teaching philosophy becomes embedded in practice through the process of reflection (p. 123) and this process comes about through collaborative inquiry concerning the personal values one holds for teaching and learning (p. 124).
Student teachers at the University of Colorado Denver incorporated portfolios as a part of a professional seminar project in 1994. Portfolios were to be a tool for reflecting on student teaching experiences and exploring roles and professional identities as beginning teachers (Borko, Michalec, Timmons, & Siddle, 1997, p. 2). An action research cycle was used as a way to determine how to improve the practice of creating portfolios. The first research cycle involved a portfolio assignment that included formal structure and content as well as elements of flexibility and choice. Components were to include teaching philosophy, description of teaching situation, planning entry, teaching entry, student learning entry, as well as reflections on teaching, student learning, and the experience of constructing the portfolio (Borko, Michalec, Timmons, & Siddle, 1997, p. 4). Reflections by twenty-one students and semi-structured interviews with eight students provided the data. A set of categories was developed for both the interviews and the portfolio analyses and central themes were determined. Emerging patterns were placed in five general categories: benefits, costs, factors that facilitated portfolio construction, factors that hindered portfolio construction, and suggested refinements to the program (p. 8).
Multiple benefits of portfolio construction were mentioned in all reflections and interviews. The most frequently mentioned benefit was the use of portfolios as a tool for reflection. Portfolios were viewed as beneficial in making connections between theory and practice and as a step toward developing a professional portfolio (p. 8). Fifteen participants reflected on the connection between their philosophy and teaching practice. Some student teachers were concerned about the cost of participation and several participants felt that the portfolio assignment competed with their time and energy for student teaching (p. 9). Several students indicated that they felt stress in trying to balance the portfolio project with the student teaching experience. Positive factors were the support and guidance from the university program, sharing ideas with peers, and support from the cooperating teacher (p. 10). Negative factors included the time constraints, the characteristics of the portfolio assignment, conflicts with student teaching obligations, and past experiences in the masters program.
Most student teachers felt that guidelines for the assignment were helpful, but two participants indicated that having specific guidelines hindered portfolio construction. Having the portfolio as a course assignment interfered with the sense of ownership and commitment for six students. Some participants felt that the portfolio project should not coincide with student teaching. Recommendations for refining the portfolio project included: "revising structure and guidelines, increasing opportunity for peer collaboration, extending the time frame, providing examples, and emphasizing professional aspects of the portfolio" (p. 12). Some students wanted more guidelines provided and some wanted less. Many student teachers planned to use portfolios for employment interviews. Borko, Michalec, Timmons, and Siddle (1997) felt the primary goal of providing a tool for reflecting on student teaching experiences had been met in the study (p. 13).
The second cycle of action research, conducted in 1995, attempted to achieve more flexibility as well as provide more guidance. The 1995 guidelines included three assignments: a professional statement, an analysis of student work, and a description of teaching and learning entries (Borko, Michalec, Timmons, & Siddle, p. 14). Greater flexibility was achieved by allowing different forms for teaching and learning entries, including an annotated table of contents, a web, or a concept map. Students were able to view examples of previous portfolios, were given more guidance, and spent more time collaborating with peers. The 1995 portfolios were designed to meet the original purpose of providing a tool for reflection and professional development. However, an additional function was added to the second set of portfolios: that of providing an employment portfolio to be used in job interviews (p. 15).
Hurst, Wilson, and Cramer (1998) described professional portfolios as "visual representations" of teachers, with the content necessarily varied, determined by the individual's teaching philosophy, values, and viewpoints (p. 1). Professional portfolios were multidimensional, allowing the teacher to demonstrate varied abilities and interests. It allowed the teacher to go beyond the confines of a resume or vita and "display personal attributes that often do not show up on simple data sheets for employment" (p. 3). Suggestions for items to be included were: table of contents, resume, statement of philosophy, official documents, letters of recommendation, evaluations, photographs and visual documentation, self-goals, goals for students of tomorrow, student and parent sentiments, samples of college work, thematic units, learning activities, original ideas, examples of student work, personal data, autobiographies, reflections, and inspirational items (pp. 4-6). Hurst, Wilson, and Cramer believed that teaching portfolios were powerful instruments for placement or career advancement (p. 8). A more holistic picture could be provided for prospective employers and the process of creating the portfolio helped the teacher refine professional and personal goals (p. 8).
Winsor and Ellefson (1995) referred to the professional portfolio in teacher education as a "fusion of processes and product" (p. 68). The processes included reflection, selection, rationalization, and evaluation. The products included a "thoughtfully organized" collection of artifacts illustrating professional development, pedagogical expertise, subject matter and child development knowledge, and professional and personal attributes that contribute to teaching (pp. 68-69). They recommended two practices that were essential for students participating in the portfolio process: determine the rationale for each entry and present portfolios in conference with others (p. 71). Winsor and Ellefson (1995) conducted a mail survey of twenty-one superintendents in southern Alberta, Canada and interviewed three senior administrative school personnel to determine the value of portfolios for prospective employers. Employers felt portfolios were a valuable part of the interview process, indicating that portfolio review helped confirm their impressions following an interview and gave them greater confidence in their decision making concerning hiring (p. 77).
Research by Anderson
and DeMeulle (1998) indicated that tensions associated with teaching
portfolios included lack of time, buy-in of all faculty, and questions
concerning the standards of assessment (p. 28). Tensions involved the "problem
of understanding the purpose, logistics, and value of using portfolios"
(p. 28). Other concerns expressed by teacher educators included the portfolio
size and bulkiness and the unusual size of some artifacts. Anderson and
DeMeulle reported that teacher educators indicated that the greatest tension
was with the assessment of portfolios, particularly with questions of reliability
and validity (p. 28). Teacher educators were uncertain as to how to grade
portfolios, what standards to use, and whether to consider portfolio assessment
for "high-stakes" evaluation.
Niguidula (1993a) defended the idea behind portfolio assessment as a means of understanding a student's abilities and accomplishments. However, he asked the question, "What are we going to do with ALL THIS STUFF?" (p. 1). He discussed the "logistical nightmare of thousands of papers turning brittle and collecting dust" (p. 1). He presented two other drawbacks to traditional portfolios: performance evidence may not be on paper and the materials for presentation may not be easily manageable. He proposed that we create a tool using computer technology that allows us to create a richer picture of what a student can know and do (p. 2). Niguidula has been working on developing ways to create a digital portfolio through The Exhibitions Project at the Coalition of Essential Schools and the IBM Corporation.
The Digital Portfolio was a hypermedia project that presented the portfolio as a set of screens linked by interactive buttons. The left side of the screen contained six learning goals based on what the student was required to know and be able to do in a content area. The student demonstrated a skill or knowledge through an assessment "exhibition" which provided an authentic performance meeting the criteria of each learning goal. Niguidula stated that one advantage of the digital portfolio was the ability to store multiple media such as graphics, video, and audio. Evidence could include assignments, research projects, oral and written presentations, tests, and seminars stored in multiple media. Teachers, students, or other judges served as evaluators, providing comments or using rubrics to assess student work. Niguidula emphasized that the goal of the digital portfolio project was not to demonstrate technology, but to show more effectively what students were capable of doing in a content area.
Niguidula discussed the issues of implementing digital portfolios, outlining five areas a school needs to address: a school's vision, assessment system, use of technology, logistics issues, and overall culture (1993b, p. 4). A school must determine a vision by deciding what capabilities they wanted their graduates to possess. The school must set the standards for what is good for the determined audience and then decide how the students should demonstrate the vision and collect work. Decisions had to be made concerning what hardware, software, and networking is needed. The logistics of how to digitize information, select student work, and reflect on the work must be determined. Time must be provided for student reflection. Public demonstrations, presentations, or celebrations needed to be planned or the digital portfolio may be no different from a paper portfolio locked away in a cabinet (1993b, p. 7). Unless the school culture emphasized developing strong relationships between students and teachers, Niguidula believed the process of creating digital portfolios would not help in the understanding of student abilities. The school community must be open to tuning standards, discussing student work and allowing teachers, students, and others to reflect on what they have done (1993b, p. 7). The advantages of digital portfolios included bringing a school's vision and standards to life and having the students take ownership of their work. Digital portfolios made communication more effective and information easier to transmit than using paper portfolios (Niguidula, 1993b, p. 8).
The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) prepared a report for The Road Ahead (1995-1997), a program of the National Foundation for the Improvement of Education (NFIE). Technology was described as providing new assessment tools including computer-based self-scoring tests, electronic gradebooks, and computer-based student portfolios. Multimedia databases provided a more compact, storable, and retrievable tool for student portfolios (pp. 7-8). ISTE reported that information technologies "added new dimensions to portfolio assessment" (p. 17). Computer editing could facilitate the arrangement of the portfolio items, allowing for one presentation to be used for a variety of purposes. Evidence in the form of pictures, graphics, sound, and text could be digitized and stored. ISTE recommended the use of interactive multimedia stacks and Web pages to develop portfolio products. Science simulations, synthesized music, and complex mathematical software could be demonstrated through an interactive computer program. Physical products could be edited, stored, and moved to another computer or copied from one software program to another (p. 17). ISTE stated that information technologies are becoming more important in schools. The use of technology would allow students to take on authentic projects that are "more real-world in nature" (p. 18).
Sheingold and Frederiksen (1994) stated that technology could provide "the media through which students and teachers can have conversations that lead to shared understandings of the values and standards for student performance" (p. 112). Technology could help link assessment with reform by providing the following functions: support for student work in extended, authentic learning activities; portable, accessible and replayable copies of performances in multiple media; libraries of examples and interpretive tools; greater participation in the assessment process; and publication of works recognizing student accomplishments (p. 121). Technology could provide evidence of assessment beyond products that are text-based or activities that require the physical presence of the evaluator. Student work could be captured and preserved using interactive multimedia formats that integrate many forms of information on one computer disk (p. 122).
Technology could ultimately eliminate the need for physically transporting bulky paper portfolios, however Sheingold and Frederiksen emphasized that these performances must be "easily accessible to all parties" (p. 122). Schools must have appropriate recording technologies that are accessible and understandable to all potential users and group viewing systems that allow for the social activity of interpreting performances (p. 123). Through technology, different evaluators would not have to rely on varied recollections long after the actual performance. They could observe an assessment activity repeatedly and focus on interpretation (p. 123). The issue of ownership of the work produced by students would be solved by computer and video technologies because more than one copy of the work could exist (Sheingold & Frederickson, p. 124). The collaborative group approach to evaluation was recommended as a means of interpreting and scoring performances, but an exemplar library of positive and negative examples and rationales should be included to guide assessment (p. 126).
Sheingold and Frederickson (1994) stated that the "community of participants involved in creating and discussing assessment and evaluating and interpreting students' work must be very large" (pp. 126-127). Expanding this "community of participants" could be accomplished through networking and interactive telecommunications technology. Teachers and students would be able to develop and share assessment activities across time and space (p. 127). These technologies could help in establishing scoring comparability within a wider community and foster the "enrichment and evolution of the assessment system itself" (p. 127). Sheingold and Frederickson suggested that teachers have access to a database of libraries of performance examples and scoring rubrics. Students should be able to browse for project ideas, courses, or research options and have the opportunity to work collaboratively with students from other locations. The technologies needed would be those that allow teachers and students to share authentic and complex learning activities and have productive conversations concerning the values and criteria for evaluating student work (p. 129).
The Jacksonville Urban Educational Partnership (JUEP) presented a CD-ROM tutorial on how to create portfolios to preservice teachers participating in a pilot preinternship program (Boulware, Bratina, Holt, & Johnson, 1997). The program was to provide a nurturing environment for novice preservice teachers, a bridge between theory and practice, effective mentoring, an opportunity to develop as a reflective practitioner, and effective clinical supervision and coaching (Boulware, Bratina, Holt, & Johnson, 1997, p. 2). The CD-ROM tutorial included guidelines for assembling a portfolio, suggestions for the format, and a list of possible artifacts to be included. The authors wrote the script, produced the majority of the visuals, included video segments and concrete examples of portfolios, prepared a flowchart, and narrated the script. Participants in the program should be able to distinguish between a working and a presentation portfolio, organize a working portfolio according to predetermined standards, identify artifacts that demonstrate accomplishments for each standard, and produce a working portfolio by the end of their second field experience (pp. 4-5).
The National Education Association (NEA) offered advice for teachers developing electronic portfolios. NEA (1996) suggested that the teacher start small with one instructional area, develop a structure for organizing and storing material, make portfolios accessible as an integral part of the classroom environment, provide assistance with inventory lists and recommended specific contents, and encourage frequent evaluation of the contents. The teacher must consider the accessibility of hardware and software used to capture and store portfolios. Computer systems must have the capacity to store multiple data sources including voice and video. Sufficient disk storage space and accessible back up capabilities would be needed. In addition, the teacher should consider the labor-intensive and time-consuming aspects of compiling a portfolio and how they would administer the project, including ways of providing security and password protection. NEA suggested that access would be needed to at least one high-end workstation with a scanner, OCR (optical character recognition) software, printer, and perhaps digital camera, as well as a CD-ROM or magnetic tape backup system.
Two of the twelve articles in the 1998 Teacher Education Quarterly issue devoted to the use of portfolios in teacher education discussed research on the use of electronic or digital portfolios. Georgi and Crow (1998) discussed the problems with traditional paper portfolios of storage, maintenance, access, ownership, and transportation, noting problems with losing or misplacing items, indexing items, hauling bulky projects around, and retrieving certain types of exhibitions for display. They stated that "the advent of multimedia, telecommunications tools, and electronic storage media can serve educators at all levels in the design and implementation of digital portfolios" (p. 77). Georgi and Crow recommended that teacher educators help students identify instructional and assessment techniques and "seek ways to have technology strengthen these successful experiences" (p. 82).
McKinney (1998) stated that the shared potential of hypermedia technology and portfolio self-assessment presents a challenge to implementation for teachers due to lack of time, little support, and limited and always changing resources (p. 86). Schools of education have a responsibility for providing teacher candidates with the opportunity to participate in technology-rich environments (p. 86). McKinney conducted a study of five students to examine the effect of incorporating technology into the process of portfolio development. Students prepared two different portfolios at progressive stages of their teacher preparation program. Multiple methods of research used were portfolio analysis, survey, questionnaire, and focus group interviews.
Portfolios were examined using the following categories: organization, evidence of integration, evidence of reflection, evidence of growth in content knowledge from individual courses, evidence of focus on the individual child, and changes between the first and second portfolio (p. 89). The researcher reviewed all five portfolios and two outside reviewers independently evaluated three of the five. A survey was conducted to determine familiarity with computer usage. The informant questionnaire included: questions on the importance of self-assessment in portfolios, the effects of technology on the process of developing portfolios, personal views about inclusion of technology over time and with experience, necessary support structures needed for developing electronic portfolios, impediments of the technological portfolio process, and the potential future of portfolios in teacher preparation programs (p. 90). The focus group interview was audio-taped and transcribed for analysis.
The findings from portfolio analysis indicated that each student organized information in personally unique ways. Second portfolios included more reflective commentary with fewer artifacts and demonstrated "evidence of growth of confidence in their ability to help children learn" (p. 93). With experience, students expressed greater confidence in their technological expertise and understanding of the purposes of portfolios. A positive result of using technology in developing the portfolio process included the more effective ways of being able to show connections through the "nonlinear nature of multimedia software" (p. 93). Students indicated a positive attitude toward the potential of using multimedia portfolios and projects in their teaching and confidence in their ability to teach using computers. Limitations focused on lack of storage space associated with the computer hardware and software. Students indicated that they needed more computer time and greater access to the scanner, recorder, and camera. McKinney indicated that there is a need for more longitudinal research to determine the effectiveness of electronic portfolios, but that it appears "there is value in scaffolding the development of portfolios over time" (p. 101).
Milone (1995) discussed the concept of creating digital portfolios with an "engine" or software program that could provide teachers and students with multimedia authoring capabilities. He mentioned software packages such as Hyperstudio that are being used to create electronic portfolios. He described the potential for students to simply place their demonstrations and digital information into pre-designed "templates" (p. 6). He recommended the use of scanners, still video cameras, and video capture boards for input from a camcorder or videotape. He discussed the possibilities of copying the portfolio onto a CD-ROM for storage and accessibility. Multiple television screens or an LCD (liquid crystal display) panel could be used to display the portfolio presentation to a large audience. The digital portfolio integrated technology into the curriculum naturally, provided a student-centered environment, encouraged students to use their multiple intelligences, and rigorously challenged the learning capabilities of all students (p. 2).
Richards (1998) discussed a Hyperstudio project designed to infuse technology and literacy into the undergraduate teacher education curriculum through the use of electronic portfolios. The purpose of the project was to have "students construct meaning around an education-related, literacy-based dilemma and use technology as a tool for recording and sharing their responses" (p. 1). Students read Savage Inequalities, a book by Jonathan Kozol (1991) that described the real-life injustice that exists in six inner city public school systems around the country. Students were to collaborate in cooperative groups with one individual designated as the technology coordinator. Other roles for group members were discussion leader, strategy leader, and recorder. The group was to engage in problem solving concerning issues in the literature and develop an electronic sampling of work during the course of three weeks. They were to construct potential solutions and incorporate data, reflections, and critical responses into the electronic portfolio. The processes of developing literacy skills and strategies were to be shared with peers and other educators (p. 2). Each portfolio contained a group profile, topic notes in pop-up text fields, reading response activities, and a peer review card.
One hundred education students divided into twenty groups of five students in each group to participate in the study. Student perceptions to the technology and literacy project were assessed formatively and summatively. The assignment engaged 100% of the students in social issues concerning education. Ninety-seven percent of the students agreed that cooperation and collaboration in the group settings was accomplished. In determining the use of time, 77% of the students did not feel like they had enough time to fully understand and complete the project. Only 79% of the students agreed that this activity was important and relevant to their futures as teachers. Of the technology coordinators, 92% felt like the activity went well and was worth doing. Students felt they had learned how to develop an electronic portfolio to display their work, how to share with others, how to synthesize information to be placed into the portfolio, and how to share resources cooperatively. The study concluded that the technology experience was beneficial to both students and faculty. Recommendations included the incorporation of more connections to the World Wide Web and the "development of a mechanism for interested students to share their work electronically using this medium" (p. 7).
Jackson (1998) studied the effects of student generated computer portfolios at St. Mary's University of Minnesota. Student teachers created computer portfolios using the multimedia features of Macromedia Director and preserving data on Mac and PC CD-ROM disks. Students determined the characteristics they thought would make them an effective teacher and reported the benefits of reflecting on their accomplishments in the portfolio (Jackson, 1998). The value of publicly sharing the portfolio with prospective employers reportedly improved job opportunities for the teaching candidates particularly because they were able to demonstrate computer literacy. Students also reported confidence in the possibilities of infusing technology in their own classroom (p. 1). Jackson provided a portfolio template and set standards of knowledge, organization, and teacher effectiveness for students to demonstrate through the collection of digitized evidence (p. 2). Jackson stated that traditional portfolios had the advantage of including an unlimited supply of original documentation, but the materials might be "cumbersome" (p. 4). Computer generated portfolios presented easy access to video clips and could be duplicated easily at a minimal cost. However, the user must have access to compatible equipment. Data storage may be problematic if the student wishes to carry information on one floppy disk. CD-ROM disks might solve the problem of storing larger files such as digitized videos, images, and sound (p. 4).
The Teacher Technology Portfolio Program at Elmhurst College was designed to provide students with the opportunity to reflect on the use of technology in education and demonstrate knowledge and growth throughout the teacher preparation program (Doty & Hillman, 1998). Students were surveyed and assessed to determine technological competence and asked to rate their own skill proficiency. Portfolio requirements included a reflective statement concerning technology in education, the development and implementation of lesson and unit plans with artifacts integrating technology, and evidence of mastery of basic and advanced competencies with different technologies. Workshops on computer use, telecommunications, and multimedia were conducted regularly for students and faculty. After the initial pilot study, a long-range plan of program implementation was developed. As the level of faculty expertise grew, each phase would focus on more complex objectives and competencies: productivity software, telecommunications, and presentation software. Revisions were made to provide more technology training, greater access and use of instructional software, the printing of portfolio guidelines, procedures for documenting competencies from work experiences, a bibliography of library resources, and a final evaluation checklist for submission of portfolios (Doty & Hillman, 1998, p. 3).
Barrett (1998a) supported the use of portfolios for authentic assessment of student learning. She believed portfolio-based assessment was one of the most exciting developments in the school reform movement. She proposed that standards provide the basis for portfolio organization:
An electronic portfolio without clear links to standards is just a multimedia presentation or a fancy electronic resume or digital scrapbook. Without standards as the organizing basis for a portfolio, the collection becomes just that…a collection, haphazard and without structure; the purpose is lost in the noise, glitz and hype. High technology disconnected from a focus on curriculum standards will only exacerbate the lack of meaningful integration of technology to improve teaching and learning. (1998, Tel-Ed Abstract)Barrett (1998b) suggested that a portfolio include the following elements: learner goals, guidelines for selecting materials, work samples, teacher feedback, student self-reflection, clear and appropriate criteria for evaluating work (rubrics based on standards), and standards with access to examples of good work. She believed that technology should be considered for creating portfolios for the following reasons:
NCATE stated that this is a time of transition and recommended that teacher preparation programs make the necessary changes required for technology to be integrated across the curriculum (p. 9). Schools of education need to develop a strategic plan and determine goals, objectives, and outcomes for technology use. Pilot projects with institutions should be established to develop a new model of accreditation for the 21st century that includes the implementation and evaluation of state-of-the-art uses of technology (p. 13). As part of the accreditation process, the NCATE task force recommended that communications be conducted through the internet and data be collected, stored, and retrieved electronically. NCATE also recommended the use of electronic folio reviews via the World Wide Web as a part of the accreditation process.
Powers (1998) stated that college and universities who seek accreditation need to demonstrate that faculty and graduates perform at a technologically competent level. She recommended that the NCATE technology standards developed by ISTE provide the foundation standards for all teacher candidates. Basic computer and technology operations and concepts would include the ability to evaluate and run software, to access, generate and manipulate data, and to publish results. Personal and professional uses of technology would include tools for professional growth and productivity: communication, collaboration, research, and problem solving. Application of technology in instruction would require planning and delivery of instructional units integrated with a variety of software programs, applications, and learning tools. Diverse populations would require lessons that reflect effective grouping and assessment strategies (p. 1). Powers (1998) recommended that teacher candidates take proficiency exams that require them to perform on demand. The proficiencies would include word processing, spreadsheets, data processing, electronic communications, desktop publishing, instructional applications, presentations/digital imaging, and concepts and societal implications of instructional technologies. Artifacts that demonstrate proficiency could be placed in the student's professional portfolio (Powers, p. 2).
The "Preliminary Report of the Computer Education Advisory Panel" proposed CTC standards of program quality and effectiveness for computer-based technologies in California classrooms. These standards, effective beginning January 1, 2000, are currently being reviewed and aligned with The California Standards for the Teaching Profession (CSTP, 1997). Recommendation five of this document stated that the subject matter program standards would address the use of computer-based technologies.
New uses of technology lead to significant changes in teaching and learning. Using computer-based technologies as a tool for instruction should be a pervasive characteristic of a subject matter program for teachers. Incorporating the use of current instructional strategies and technologies is critical to enhance learning in all curriculum content areas. (CTC, 1998b, p. 2).The CTC proposed legislation for major restructuring of teacher credentialing, requiring that teacher preparation programs include instruction in advanced computer-based technology within educational settings. To maintain a valid clear multiple or single subject teaching credential, experienced teachers must remain informed of changes in pedagogy, subject matter, and pupil needs. Teacher preparation programs are required to include standards-based teaching performance assessments aligned to CTC standards (CTC, 1998b). Using electronic portfolios for the purpose of demonstrating and assessing teaching performance has been considered to have potential for teacher preparation programs (Jackson, 1998; Milone, 1995; Sheingold & Frederiksen, 1994).
Computer-based technologies have been used to collect,
store, and present evidence of meeting standards in the form of the electronic
portfolio (Georgi & Crow,
1998; Lankes, 1995; McKinney,
1993a). Electronic portfolios have the potential to preserve many of
the teaching and learning artifacts collected by the teacher candidate
during the course of teacher training (Doty
& Hillman, 1998; Jackson,
1998; Milone, 1995; Richards,
1998). A digital framework has provided easy access to information
and a useful framework for reflection (Doty
& Hillman, 1998; McKinney, 1998;
& Frederiksen, 1994). Linking artifacts to the CTC evaluation domains
has provided evidence of meeting the goals and objectives presented in
each of the certification standards (Georgi
& Crow, 1998; McKinney, 1998;
The preparation of teachers for the 21st century has required teaching
candidates to be accountable to high professional standards. Computer-based
technologies can be used as tools to create an electronic assessment portfolio
for the purposes of providing evidence of meeting certification standards
1995; McKinney, 1998; Barrett,
Copyright 1999 by Carla Hagen Piper