Ann Monroe and Joel Amidon
School of Education
Two education professors transform the elementary and special education undergraduate portfolio to emphasize growth and reflection.
An electronic portfolio is one of the culminating projects for the elementary education program, where teachers are asked to create a Google Site and upload assignments as they are dictated by the program. The intent of the portfolio is to document the growth of the teacher candidate but at times the portfolio may be seen as a hoop to jump through (as artifacts are dictated by the program rather than the teacher candidate) rather than an instrument for documenting the evolution of a pre-service teacher into an in-service teacher. The problem can be traced to the narrow number of instructors responsible for ensuring portfolio authoring and the lack of a “portfolio culture” in the program. Our proposal was to move the electronic portfolio from just a part of the certification program to being the backbone of the program, by fostering a “portfolio culture” that would transfer ownership of the portfolio to the teacher candidates.
In the past, we waited to introduce the portfolio until the senior year, but now we are having candidates start the portfolio process in their sophomore year. With over 300 sophomore candidates across five campuses, this was a big challenge. We decided to rely on the help of the Writing Center to introduce the portfolio process to these sophomores. Joel worked with Brad at the Writing Center to develop two separate training sessions which Writing Center consultants could take to the sophomore classes to get the candidates started with the portfolio and journaling processes.
Since candidates were starting the portfolio process early in their coursework, we needed all education faculty to support the portfolio in subsequent classes. Joel and Ann worked to train faculty on the new portfolio process and its emphasis on reflection through journaling and artifact selection. Faculty agreed to incorporate portfolio assignments in their courses. A new rubric was also developed to grade the final portfolio.
One of the primary goals of the new portfolio is to get our candidates started on this reflection process early in their programs, through journaling and collecting artifacts that represent “road markers” in the journey of development. Candidates would then have to show how these artifacts help meet the professional standards in elementary and special education.
We now have a new portfolio template and structure that starts in the sophomore year with support and training provided by the Writing Center, continues throughout all education courses with cooperation from faculty, and culminates during the student teaching semester.