Lehman College, CUNY

Faculty Reflections After Initial Professional Development Series

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At the very beginning of  our ePortfolio journey, we captured what one faculty member thought about ePortolios (video and quotes). Additionally, through post-professional development reflections, we learned how faculty felt about the a 6-session workshop series and about ePortfolios generally.

“First, the process really has made me think about how I’m assessing student learning, and the pilot has triggered an authentic and reflective and constant dialogue – sometimes it’s an inner dialogue – but mainly it’s between the team, all of us.”

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FIRST YEAR MID-PILOT REFLECTION: Dr.DeSimoneReflection [Click to view]
Quotes from a faculty interview:

“We [spoke about assessment] in our departments and at the Division level – especially in terms of accreditation. But, this seems – feels – different. Now we have no choice but to delve deeply into our practices, our beliefs, our perceptions of what assessment is and what it should look like to us – but to our students, as well.”

“[There is a] tension between what I’ve started calling the “two faces of ePortfolio” – the creative face and the assessment face, and at times, I really struggle to balance using ePortfolios as strictly an assessment tool, as opposed to a tool to highlight student expression and learning.  I think it can be used for both. But, I keep shifting back to thinking, ‘Well, how will this show they’ve met the standards?’ “

Below is evidence (written responses by faculty) that initial ePortfolio professional development series was successful (using Digication at the time).

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Faculty 1 (member of C2L):

The ePortfolio faculty development was my first introduction to to ePortfolio. I had not created my own ePortfolio, I had not viewed any ePortfolios and I had a very limited vision of how I could create ePortfolio as part of the assessment for my capstone course in Graduate Childhood Education. Through the faculty development I was exposed to ePortfolio in a variety of ways. At first I was given the opportunity to simply view various student ePortfolios from different colleges – with different purposes. This opened my eyes to not only the pedagogy of ePortfolio but also the importance of the preplanning on the platform before introducing it to my students. As well I was exposed to recent literature on the topic and discussed the content with peers in small groups. My thinking was challenged in terms of what my purpose would be for the ePortflio as well as how to create the template so that the portfolio was student learner based but still met the outcomes of the course. This spring I am currently piloting a capstone ePortfolio in my course and this tension still resonates for me.

The faculty development worked for me in that it enabled me to learn about ePorfolios in a variety of ways. I was asked to create my own professional ePortfolio for the first time. This not only allowed me to learn the skills and tools but also gave me the capacity to experience building an ePortflio from the student perspective. Concurrently I worked on a workshop ePortfolio  where my thoughts about the process were challenged and harnessed. Opportunities to reflect and plan were structure so that my thinking could be captured and made more concrete. The structure of the workshops was constructivist and learner dependent. The leader was a guide and facilitator which encouraged sharing and community and trust.

A reflection I wrote at the end of the faculty development workshop (below)  indicated my feeling of success of the workshop along with some thoughts for improvement:

First of all, thank you for a wonderful learning opportunity. I truly feel that eportfolios are the next step for me in terms of my work here at the College. In terms of the workshop sessions, I found the first few sessions the most helpful — coming in not knowing anything I certainly needed support to learn how to navigate the site. I also found the readings and the group discussions most informative and helpful. I think it is so hard to organize technology workshops because usually the participants come in with varying degrees of proficiency with technology. I (think) I am the type of person who catches on quickly and once I have the basics down I can pretty much self-teach. For me, I would have liked to have had some more time dedicated to setting up my pilot for the spring — some time to work independently on creating a template, rubric etc. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed about starting in February, (but maybe some of the apprehension will be lifted after we get a chance to meet together tomorrow). Thanks again!

My engagement in the faculty development led to my participation on the educational technology ePortfolio leadership team in the Division. After the pilot this spring I will share with other faculty members in the Division how the pilot went – what worked, what would I change for next time? As well, I will be expanding the project to begin in the introductory course of the program so that it builds to the capstone experience. I will be reaching out to other faculty in my program to incorporate the ePortfolio throughout the program so that it is a learning tool throughout the 2 years of the program. As well, I will be continuing to share my experiences at the Division level in hopes of encouraging deeper ePortfolio work in the Division.

Faculty 2 (member of C2L):

I was very enthusiastic to begin working with electronic portfolio (ePortfolio) at Lehman College.  The ePortfolio faculty development workshop series was a great way for me to get involved and not feel that my interest to implement ePortfolio was isolated. The workshop series took place over six sessions in the fall 2010.  I was introduced to ePortfolio at the University of Pennsylvania approximately four years earlier as a professor in a graduate chemistry education program.  From that experience, I came to understand that implementation of ePortfolio is really a community building activity (a type of social enactment) and, as such, should not be engaged in an isolated manner. Although I might have been considered an advanced user in the faculty development group at Lehman, I certainly was learning how to push my thinking about various aspects of ePortfolios in numerous ways while participating in the workshop.

Below I respond to several of the prompts suggested in this phase of Connect to Learn Jam 2. Some prompts are be synthesized together.

1) Building faculty community within the seminar

What I came to value the most in the faculty development seminar was the opportunity to interact with colleagues who were beginning to conceptualize different ways of implementing ePortfolios in their own programs, courses and work. I was very happy that this was not a top down process. It gave faculty members, who were genuinely interested, the opportunity to grapple with possible benefits and challenges of deploying ePortfolios in their work. I also came to realize that although this was an organic bottom up process, that part of thinking about course, programmatic and/or high levels of implementation had to be systematic- just because it is organic does not mean structure and planning should not be put in place. It is very important to anticipate the types of conversations that faculty would need to have with higher level administrator and technology administrator who are responsible for the deployment of the ePortfolio on various scales. One of the most important lesson learned in the workshop is that if ePortfolio interest and implementation is originating and progressing from the bottom up there will be a point where early adopter will need to interact with higher level administrators to discuss issues of ePortfolio implementation and sustainability. It is important for early adopter and supporters to prepare for these discussions.

2) Deepens faculty engagement with ePortfolio pedagogy

3) Stimulates faculty creativity applied to process of designing/sharpening plans and resources

I will use an aspect of pedagogy in the framework offered by Lee Shuman (1986). Pedagogical (content) is the most regularly taught topics in one’s subject area, the most useful and productive forms and tools of representations of those ideas, the most powerful metaphors, illustrations, examples, explanations, and demonstrations.  In other words, it is the most moral and productive ways of representing and formulating the subject that makes it comprehensible to others.

Deepening my engagement with ePortfolio pedagogy is certainly a central personal and shared outcome of my participation in the faculty development workshops. I started to develop a way of conceptualizing and approaching ePortfolio in my teaching and leaning practices during my work with ePortfolio at UPenn. At UPenn, I arrived when the ePortfolios as a high stakes exit project was in place already for approximately two years. I had to work within an existing framework but I was also able to push the boundaries of conceptualization and implementation- not with out push back. When I start attending the ePortfolio workshops at Lehman, it gave me an incubator to think about how I would continue to innovate based, not only my experiences at UPenn but what I was coming across in the literature through participation in the workshop. This continued to lead me down a path to be creative and reflective in anticipating my pedagogical needs in designing and sharpen plan/resources to implement ePortfolio in the graduate science education program at Lehman.

I knew that ePortfolios would be a powerful tool to use to help science teacher analyze and illustrated their professional growth in becoming and being secondary science teachers in NYC. An important exercise at the beginning and end the faculty development workshop helped me to sharpen how I was going to conceptualize ePortfolios with my student. The exercise in the workshop required faculty participants to think about the four possible categories/uses of ePortfolio (developmental, assessment, showcase and hybrids). Certainly, ePortfolios can serve all purposes in each category depending how they are introduced and framed.  Initially, I was not sure and I probably placed myself in the hybrid category.  However, thoughout the workshop I came to realize that when I introduce the idea of ePortfolio to my students, I would need to be clear in my mind and clear in how I articulating the entry point into this tool. Since I was introducing the ePortfolio as a capstone project to be completed over two semesters, I decided that I would introduce the ePortfolio to my students as an assessment and development ePortfolio. As such, at the end of the faculty development workshop, I placed myself in the both the assessment and development category. This allowed me, as Shulman indicates above, to give more powerful and focus examples and directions( in the category of student centered assessment and development) to my students on how to construct their capstone ePortfolio project. I felt if I started with the ePortfolio as showcase, the examples I would use would not help students to focus on the kinds of assessments frameworks they need to address that are central to science education.

4) Leads to actual pedagogical experimentation with students-involving ePortfolio, integration, reflections, ..etc.

In moving forward, and reflecting on conversations in the ePortfolio workshop, I was able to think about the areas of ePortfolio pedagogy that needed to be researched. I became interested in different ways of assessing ePortfolio, particularly the outcome of different evaluation procedures. For example, would would be the outcome if students presented their portfolios along with the electronic product to evaluators compared to only having the evaluators view the electronic product. I also began to reflect more deeply on my practice. Certainly my practice have become even more student-centered and focused on student learning.

In the spring of 2011, I taught the two parallel masters capstone level courses. Both sections had approximately 15 students enrolled.  These courses were the second of a two-semesters capstone experiences.

The second course focused exclusively on ePortfolio and developed in a way that students were illustrating their work in 40-minute presentations. During each class we would have 2-3 of such presentations. Guidelines for the presentations were articulated and a presentation /engagement rubric was also use. Other participants in the class scored each presenter and a composite score with comments were generated and given to the presenter.  In this way, participants in the course could comment and presenters could get good feedback and have others learn from the feedback.  The students agreed to have their presentation videotaped.  They also agreed to have their final capstone ePortfolio presentation videotaped.  This was an excellent way to have students share and engage their own learning with peers.  It also placed student learning in center of the course. I asked the students if they would allow me and other colleagues to formally study the outcomes of our experiences. All agreed, and I was able to receive IRB permission to study the experiences and outcomes (including the ePortfolio and associated presentations produced) of the pilot implementation of ePortfolios in the science education program at Lehman College.

Faculty 3: email feedback

I really liked the format and found the combo of both experiential learning and collaborative readings and reflection most helpful. The learning group was also really a delight and with some brand-new folks as well as seasoned folks it made for great collegiality. I thought it really moved my own thinking about how best to use e-portfolio and I shifted significantly from only showcase to wanting to use it for developmental and assessment purposes as well. This was directly due to the learning over the semester. While I was pretty far ahead on the faculty e-portfolio, it gave me more time to strategize about how best to use e-portfolio with students. I think the recommendation to keep it simple is key and I really look forward to the roll-out. I’m thrilled to be working with [Colleague Name] and see great value in our collaboration. Finally, the more of us you get trained in how to use this tool, and I feel I’ve really gotten ahold of it now, the less time you and N. will have to hand-hold. In some ways, too, that may be the biggest benefit for you, too. I continue to marvel at your clarity and vision and how well you execute your work with us and with such limited resources. You have my eternal gratitude and support for all you’ve done for me and our students/colleagues at Lehman. Your work is my favorite professional development in 18 years as a faculty member at two institutions. In fact, it’s about the ONLY professional development I’ve had at either institution, come to think of it, but oh has it been worth it.

Facutly 4:email feedback

Firstly I would like to take a moment to thank you for asking me to join this class and for taking the time to share your expertise with us around the use of portfolios in our work. I feel that some of the work can be done independently however, having the time to meet as a class is useful for many as well. Therefore, possibly having the option of may be a suggestion for your next group. Lastly, I feel that the use of e-portfolios is a wonderful idea and happy to see that you are promoting it at Lehman College

Faculty 5: email feedback

I’m not sure if I would change anything about the series. Ideally, I think I would have liked to have come to the series a little more prepared to engage in creating my ePortfolio. I think it would have helped if I had done some of the reflecting I did during the workshop before its start.  So, perhaps, it would have been helpful for me and any others who were trying to serve a purpose other than building an ePortfolio for a class, to meet with you prior to the series to begin thinking about how we might use ePortfolio for different goals.

That said, the series helped me to formulate my thoughts about my program, its future, and its needs. I do think that ePortfolio could prove very useful and I remain interested in implementing it soon.

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