ERIC Identifier: ED481816
Publication Date: 2003-06-00
Author: Takona, James P.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation
Portfolio Development for Teacher Candidates. ERIC
The portfolio has been defined as "a systematic and organized collection
used by the teacher and student to monitor growth of the student's
knowledge, skills, and attitudes in a specific subject area" (Blake et
al., 1995). Others (DeBruin-Parecki, et al., 1997) have provided a more
contemporary view which envisions the portfolio as " a purposeful, collaborative,
self-reflective collection of student work generated during the process
of instruction."This Digest is intended to help teacher candidates systematically
gauge their progress toward the teaching profession by developing a portfolio.
More importantly, it is intended to help teacher candidates think reflectively
on their decisions and experiences.
WHY DO TEACHER CANDIDATES NEED A PORTFOLIO?
The dynamics of the current U.S. educational reform movement have led
to renewed emphasis on teacher quality and preparation.(USDE, 2002). In
recent years, the
National Council for Teacher Education has redefined its set of standards
for accrediting teacher education programs and begun requiring documentation
of the impact pre-service teachers have on the learning of their students.
The NCATE 2000 standards also require teacher education programs to assess
the performance of pre-service teachers over time using multiple measures
and linking performance to institutional, state, and professional standards
(NCATE, 2000).As a result, teacher education programs are adopting portfolios
as one means to assess pre-service teachers in a performance-based standards
environment. Some licensing agencies also require portfolios, and they
are a major requirement for experienced teachers seeking board certification
from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
WHAT BELONGS IN A PORTFOLIO?
The contents of a portfolio depend on what it is intended to demonstrate
to whom. It is very common for instructors, licensing agencies, or certification
bodies to established guidelines for portfolio development. Portfolios
might include written work such as reports, term papers, graded tests and
assignments, lesson/unit plans, artwork, lists of professional books and
articles read, lists of conferences attended and sample materials from
those conferences, letters from parents, notes from students, and video
recordings of teaching. Products might come from multiple sources, including
course work, field experiences, and volunteer activities in student groups,
churches, or professional organizations. What keeps the portfolio from
simply being a scrapbook is the reflection the teacher candidate undertakes
regarding what each artifact demonstrates about his or her educational
philosophy, learning, and professional growth and development.
HOW CAN TEACHER EDUCATION CANDIDATES DEVELOP PORTFOLIOS?
Portfolio development may be considered an ongoing and dynamic process
involves four stages: collection, reflection, reduction, and display
"Collection." Pre-service teachers should keep their term papers, tests,
from each class, along with a good inventory list of their material,
in a safe container.
Most people do much more than they are aware of, and collecting portfolio
several semesters later will simply not provide an accurate enough
picture of a teacher candidate's development. Teacher candidates should
also keep creative work, membership cards and letters to or from professional
societies, evaluations from clinical supervisors or cooperating teachers,
and the like, for possible inclusion in the portfolio.
When it is time to develop a portfolio, the teacher education candidate
will sort through the accumulated material with an eye toward demonstrating
mastery, or the path toward mastery, of standards required of him or her.
This step requires a good understanding of the performance standards by
which the candidate will be judged and careful selection of the artifacts
that best illustrate growth and development attained as a result of gaining
mastery of various instructional objectives. Teacher candidates may wish
to collect both their worst and their best products to show gains and improvements.
If students find at the end of a semester that they are lacking in a specific
area, they can discuss the situation with their academic advisors and map
out a plan to develop that area.
"Reflection." Reflection entails being able to step back from the immediacy
situation and examine knowledge, skills, beliefs, attitudes, values,
and behavior in a
dispassionate manner. Reflection is that kind of "thinking that extracts
experiences as a mechanism to propel development" (Guillaume &
Yopp, 1995, p. 96). Or, as Richert (1990) puts it, reflection is the "ability
to think about what one does and why. Reflection influences how one grows
as a professional by influencing how successfully one is able to learn
from one's experiences" (p.525).
Teacher candidates typically select artifacts to serve as evidence that
they have met
stated objectives and prepare short written abstracts that link the
artifacts to the specific standards. They may explain why they choose to
include a particular artifact, how it compares with other artifacts, what
particular skills and knowledge were used to produce it, and what the artifact
suggests about where they can improve.
When teacher candidates use their reflections to set goals for future
portfolio becomes a lifelong learning tool. It is recommended that
for each performance outcome indicator, teacher candidates write a statement
about what they still need to learn in that area and set some reasonable
goals so that they can work toward achieving that particular performance
standard in a reasonable period.
"Reduction." In the reduction stage, portfolio artifacts that demonstrate
mastery or path toward mastery of specified performance outcomes are selected.
Artifacts may have the potential to demonstrate mastery of more than one
performance outcome. Through artifact reduction, teacher candidates focus,
select, abstract and transform documents to meet the standard. Since teacher
portfolios serve dual purposes as a self- and collaborative assessment
and evaluation tool, it is important that the artifacts chosen for inclusion
in the portfolio have personal meaning for the prospective teacher.
One way to categorize items that might be included is to divide them
categories based on the source of the item:
* materials from oneself (e.g., reflective statements, term papers,
graded assignments and homework, quizzes and examinations);
* materials from others (e.g., student comments, evaluations made by
student teaching supervisor); and
* products of field experiences activities (e.g.,student work samples
that may include essays and creative work, a record of students' grades).
A good portfolio has variety. Claims about attainment of specified competencies
will bemost convincing to readers when they are supported by documentation
from a variety of sources. Some choose to include letters from their students
(unsolicited letters are preferable to solicited) or from peers, regarding
their teaching, or a listing of former students who have been successful.
Others consider incorporating evidence of their growth and development,
such as lab books that demonstrate improvement throughout the particular
course. Video footage from actual classes and classroom activities from
field experiences assignments may also be included. The final selection
of materials for the portfolio requires self-reflection. Campbell, et al.
(2000) recommend the following steps:
* Select an artifact for the portfolio.
* Mentally review the activity and reflect upon the process and product.
* Reflect on the greatest value of this activity or experience. Connect
that value to one of the standards.
* Write a rationale about the selection. Include why the piece was chosen,
learned or gained, and what related goals have been set.
It is possible that some artifacts selected to be included in the initial
someday be replaced by those not selected ("dormant artifacts"). These
artifacts may not immediately appear as appropriate evidence to address
a performance outcome, but may become meaningful over time.
"Display." The final stage of the portfolio development cycle is artifact
organization of selected artifacts in a visually appealing manner to
demonstrate mastery of performance outcomes and to permit a comprehensive
review by a panel. An institution might establish rules for portfolio content
and format, including page limit, design and focus, or the depth and opportunities
for reflection. If teacher candidates have choices, they should design
their portfolios to present a case for learning and growth consistent with
their philosophy of education.
A well-designed portfolio is aesthetically appealing and easy to navigate.
portfolio requires a three-ring binder. If an institution has no specifications,
three-ring binder with a clear cover and inside pockets works well.
Teacher candidates should consider using color-coded section dividers,
a table of contents, and consecutive numbering of all documents in the
portfolio (even though some may have an internal numbering system).
Research has shown that students who develop portfolios grow in their
understanding of themselves as learners when they see the need and seek
guidance and support from their instructors (Gomez,Grau, and Block, 1991).
Peers can serve as partners in reflection activities and provide different
perspectives. A student who has already completed a portfolio may be a
particularly helpful source of ideas and help.
Academic advisors or members of possible assessment panels also provide
an opportunity to influence reflection efforts. By gaining an understanding
of how different people see their portfolios and see them as developing
teachers, teacher candidates gain a fuller, more balanced view of themselves
and their work.
From this discussion, it is obvious that portfolio development is not
a scavenger hunt that results in the creation of a scrapbook. Rather, it
is "a responsive and purposeful activity that engages reflective capacities
of pre-service teachers to isolate growth and development within learning
incidences against preset criteria" (Takona, 2002, p.53). The portfolio
must therefore contain a repertoire of performances over time to paint
a rich developmental portrait of learning and professional development
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