Tag Archives: Research

The Role of e-Portfolios in Formative and Summative Assessment

This report and a series of case studies has recently been released by JISC. The publications relate to eportfolio practice in Higher and Further Education contexts in the UK. While that in itself is quite far removed from the primary classroom in New Zealand, whenever the words formative and eportfolios are mentioned in the same line I am naturally curious, due to my own research into the relationship between the two.

Firstly some nuts and bolts stuff. The case studies unpack eportfolio practice in 34 institutions, asking a range a questions/prompts including the context to who is assessing the eportfolio, the tool used and its’ social networking ability and reference to the pedagogical support and summative/formative assessment implications. The question and prompts in themselves are quite focused and almost suggest a criteria of what should or shouldn’t be used in a successful eportfolio implementation. Regarding the tool used, the predominant option for eportfolios was either PebblePad or BlackBoard based with other options including Plone, Joomla, Elgg, Moodle, WordPress, ePet or a self developed in house system.

The report itself has some useful parts. The discussed benefits of eportfolios reinforce the concepts we already are familiar with. I found Table 2, the Matrix of e-portfolio functionality and pedagogical/administrative value against case studies the most useful as it cross references criteria to particular case studies in order to find out more.

Overall though I was disappointed with the reference to and discussion of eportfolios and how they were supporting formative practice. Maybe this comes from my definition of formative practice as opposed to those writing the report:

The terms ‘formative’ and ‘summative’ do not describe different types of assessment. They refer to the purpose of the assessment, the use to which it is put. The summative purpose of assessment is to identify educational achievement as a matter of public record, for use in selection and certification. The formative purpose is to provide information to the learner and others concerned with the process of learning about the learner’s progress, strengths and areas for improvement. Practitioners often refer to assessment used for formative purposes as ‘feedback’.

Or maybe that highlights the difference between the educational sectors, primary vs. tertiary and primary vs. secondary. I see formative assessment (better labeled as assessment for/of/as learning) as being distinctly different from summative assessment. Yes you can use summative assessment formatively, as is almost suggested above, but formative assessment is so much more than that. Student control, student ownership, student understanding. Yes feedback is a component of that as is the learner’s progress, strengths and areas for improvement, but so is effective questioning, co-construction, exemplars, peer and self assessments, ongoing reflections… how does eportfolio use in HE and FE support such strategies?

Are existing assessment structures and expectations holding these institutions back from letting go and giving ownership and responsibility over to the learner?

eFellow Research Report

My eFellowship research report is ready to go.

The research investigates the formative benefits of eportfolios using two case studies of primary school classes as they implement an online eportfolio solution. Observations and interviews with students and teachers and the eportfolios are used to compare the outcomes with the underlying characteristics of formative assessment thus answering the question, what are the formative benefits of eportfolios?

I hope you find it useful!

ePortfolios and Assessment for Learning by Nick Rate

uLearn08 Workshop Presentation

Here is an abridged version of my uLearn 08 workshop presentation, minus any audio or video content, activities, links and of course the all important commentary. If I have time, a slidecast version will be added in the future.

Any feedback would be welcome either here or on SlideShare.

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: 2.0 web)

Research plan on Wordle

Wordle has been blogged about on almost every educational technology/elearning blog site you can think of. I wont go into describing what it is and how it works because that has already been done. Go here, here, here, here or here, to link just a few, if you are not familiar with this tag cloud tool.

Just out of interest I pasted in my eFellowship research plan with the following result. My purpose was to find out whether or not my core concepts would indeed be the words that were enlarged as their frequency assumes more importance.

Let’s look at the largest seven words:

feedback, eportfolios, learning, students, formative, assessment, teachers

With my research question being, What are the formative benefits of eportfolios? I think that these seven key words do highlight this and more specifically, the teacher‘s role and the impact on students.

All interesting stuff. It will be interesting to see what my literature review turns up when it is also pasted into Wordle. Will it compliment those key words above or contrast?

Creating and Strengthening the Links between Parents, Teachers and Others

Futurelab is one sight that I often visit even though their RSS feed from their Projects page zips into my Google Reader automatically.

I recently revisited a project named My-E, which initially caught my interest after reading the project pdf:

The central aim of this project is to pilot an idea which aims to strengthen the ‘personal learning networks’ of young people – creating and strengthening the links between parents, teachers and others significant to the child’s learning – and to encourage dialogue within this network that will form the basis of more personalised learning pathways.

While the My-E project is directed at 5 & 6 year old students, it has a number of commonalities with the underlying themes and aims of this ePortfolio project. In fact the whole ePortfolio project was initially based around the idea of creating a community of learners, fostering a greater shared understanding for learners, their parents and staff of formative practice.

Our ePortfolios can facilitate, as described in the My-E pdf:

how digital technologies can be used to document, enable and enhance meaningful two-way home-school dialogue

and additionally dialogue between students.

I looked forward to reading the results of the project which begins classroom trials in August of 2008.

Internet Safety

The first report that I have read, Internet-initiated sex crimes against minors: implications for prevention based on findings from a national study, is a comprehensive study designed to examine internet-initiated sex offenses of persons aged 17 and younger in the USA. The data was collected from surveying a random sample of law enforcement agencies in 2001 and 2002.

The results:

Victims in these crimes were primarily 13- through 15-year-old teenage girls (75%) who met adult offenders (76% older than 25) in Internet chat rooms. Most offenders did not deceive victims about the fact that they were adults who were interested in sexual relationships. Most victims met and had sex with the adults on more than one occasion. Half of the victims were described as being in love with or feeling close bonds with the offenders. Almost all cases with male victims involved male offenders. Offenders used violence in 5% of the episodes.

The conclusion of the study reinforced the all the concepts we already know. Acknowledging that these online relationships exist and having frank discussions about inappropriate relationships and the detrimental effects of these to developing youth.

While this does not address my original question, Will opening up student ePortfolios to a global audience increase the chances of inappropriate contact? It does demonstrate, in this study at least, that no child under 12 had any internet-initiated crime committed against them. 91% of crimes were initiated in chat rooms, instant messaging or email.

Of further interest to me was that prevention messages that are commonly publicised often do not take into account what is actually happening with youth social life and Internet practice. Simply telling them not to do it is not enough, the question is why are they doing it?

 At the same time, one study has demonstrated that youth were more likely to form online friendships or romances if they were troubled or, depending on gender, had high levels of conflict or low levels of communication with parents. Adolescents with these sorts of problems may be more vulnerable to online victimization.

So the question still remains, will our students be at risk if their portfolios are open to all? Data from this study would suggest that that would not be the case.

What’s it all about?

I am the Deputy Principal at Russell Street School in Palmerston North, New Zealand with an ongoing enthusiasm to engage and motivate students through eLearning. My current interest involves exploring how digital portfolios can share, celebrate and promote student learning in an online environment.

Digital portfolios not only have the potential to share student learning outcomes in an interactive and engaging way, but also have the ability to clearly demonstrate and engage parents, students and teachers in assessment for learning.

ePortfolios can show what students are learning, how they are successful, the learning process and enable active engagement in the ongoing feedback and reflection cycle that takes place in order for a student to take ownership and control of their learning.

This research project will explore what teachers can do in order to maximise the formative learning benefits of ePortfolios.