At the end of a two-semester ePortfolio capstone project students must complete their ePortfolio consisting of the following eight entries (competency areas): 1) Welcome, 2) Philosophy of Science Education, 3) Reflective Practice, 4) Use of New Pedagogical Knowledge in Designing Instruction and Assessment, 5) Understanding of Science Education Theory and Literature, 6) Culturally Responsive Pedagogy, 7) Using Science Content Area Knowledge, 8) Collaborative Entry.
Students are required to prepare a summative 70-minute presentation of the completed ePortfolio capstone project at the end of the second (spring semester). The general structure of the presentation is 50 minutes for the presentation and 20 minutes for questions and answers. All presentations are videotaped.
In preparation for the summative presentations each student was required to conduct a 40 – to 60-minute formative presentation on one entry. Initially the assigned required that the students selected one entry from entries three to seven (see above). Along the way (with much student input) the assignment evolved where students would present their Welcome and Philosophy of Science Education entries along with one entry chosen from three to seven. All formative presentations were videotaped. The videotape was rendered and given to the presenter as a QuickTime Movie for them to review.
At least one week prior to the formative presentation each student was required to inform the class about the entries they were planning to present. In turn, all class participants were required to read the entries in preparation for the presentation. The formative presentations were loosely structured in that the presenter was given latitude to organize a thoughtful presentation as they wish. For example, some students preferred that the class save all questions and discussions for the end of the presentation, while others preferred to take questions and have discussion as questions and ideas came up along the way.
The discussions were typically very informative and instructive. We often discussed 1) how the entry was introduced both in the ePortfolio and verbally, 2) the type of baseline and post-baseline evidence used to show growth in the selected competency area, 3) the conceptual framework used to show growth in a competency area, 4) clarification of the intent of each competency area, 5) overlapping and thematic connections among the ePortfolio competency areas (entries), 6) technical support, 7) the content developed for each area and 8) best practices an how to present an ePortfolio.
An important distinction had to be made about what we were accomplishing with this assignment as Reflective practice (capital “R”) and the competency area three reflective practice (small “r”). For better or worst this was the language that developed out of our discussion. Capital “R” meant of the ePortfolio capstone project is based on holistic underpinning of Reflective Practice, while the small “r” was asking for a specific illustration of reflective practice in the general framework of Rodger’s Reflective Practice cycle in the science classroom context.
After each formative presentation students in the audience were asked to write salient comments (“free-write feedback”) based upon what they read and what was presented and discussed. The comments were turned in one week after the corresponding presentation. The comments were to be no more than one page (but if need be two pages were fine). Students did not have to comment on everything just what they felt would be solid advice to improve the ePortfolio and presentation. In the previous year, I gave out a rubric to structure the feedback from students. Although the rubric did have an area to provide qualitative feedback, after review of last year’s set of feedback, in general, I found the feedback to be lacking meaningful responses. In my opinion, the implementation of free-write yielded much more focused and meaningful feedback. I need to poll this year’s students to find out about their experiences with the free-write feedback.
Where is the practice used?
This practice is use in ePortfolio capstone science education course only. It is specifically used throughout the second semester of the two-semester capstone course. It is implemented in the context of the classroom environment.
Reflection as Integrative
Students’ ePortfolio reflections are designed to help them:
- Make connections within a course
- Make connections across courses and semesters
- Make connections across disciplines
- Make connections among academic experiences, co-curricular & lived experiences
1) Make connection within a course- Students were able to discuss “reflective intent”(what they were trying to illustrate) and make holistic connection among all parts and sections of the ePortolio.
2) Make connections across courses- Students were asked to draw upon their experiences across courses and semester including undergraduate and other type of professional development experience they deemed salient to their development in the program. The oral (formative presentations) as a lived experience help students to interrogate these experiences with peers in the field.
3) Make connections across disciplines- The Master Degree in Science Education is an interdisciplinary degree where students are taking content science courses and science education courses. The ePortfolio capstone project prompts for these connections
4) Make connections among academic experiences, co-curricular and lived experiences. -See 2 immediately above.
My pedagogy was transformed in numerous ways including scaffolding a 1) more student-centered approach, 2) a learning environment that helped students focus on process and product instead of ” final grade” and 3) the means to express multiple view points in different ways.
Reflection as systematic & disciplined
Students’ ePortfolio reflection processes embody…
- A structured & scaffold process
- The reflective cycle
- Connecting their learning to Gen Ed or programmatic competencies
The process is structure in a way to support a student-centered approach to the ePortfolio reflection process. Students are given an opportunity learn about the construction of the ePortfolio (as conceived in this capstone experience) where they are at the center of sharing experiences, presenting ideas and illustrations of reflective practice.
In considering Rodger’s reflective cycles this activity can be distinctly placed in the analysis of experience phase with overlap with the other three phases. I take each phase of Rodger’s reflective cycle as entry points in to reflective practice.
Connection beyond the course and program is always encourage and occurring. For example, during the time this activity was put in place a new framework for evaluating teachers (Charlotte Danielson) was being piloted by NYC DOE and many neighboring school districts. We all felt (students and instructs) that we need to build competencies about this new evaluation framework into our capstone experiences.
Reflection as Social Pedagogy
Students use ePortfolio to share/peer review/ discuss/collaborate, connecting around course work, reflections, plans, goals, stories, etc.
- Sharing their ePortfolios w/ & getting comments from faculty
- Sharing & engaging in interactive ePortfolio commentary w/ other students
- Linking their ePortfolios to other students’ ePortfolios
- Using their ePortfolios as a site for collaborative projects with other student
The formative presentation activity provided an opportunity for students to share parts (in draft form) of their ePortfolio with faculty (unfortunately currently only me) and other students at the same time. In this way, sharing creative ideas about how to illustrate and oral present the outcome of reflective practice in an ePortfolio created a professional development network ePortfolio authors in science education.
The Collaborative Entry (see competency area 8) provided an opportunity for students to collaborate with each other to create an ePortfolio entry about science education that they were interested in. Students were free to chose anyone to work with within the course-typically have no more than three group members. In creating the collaborative entry students were to co-conceive of the topic, conceptual framework, audience and type of evidence that would collectively show shared interest, collaboration and improvement in competency among the group members. This also gave students an opportunity to develop peer mentoring relationships in smaller groups than that the whole class formative presentation sessions.
Reflection as a process of guiding personal change
Students use ePortfolio for educational and career development, identity formation, by …
- Articulating their educational and career goals
- Considering their evolving personal relationship to learning and education
- Completing/revising a plan of study
- Preparing ePortfolio to showcase to potential employers
In considering their philosophy education science education (or professional approaches to science education) they were able to articulate their personal relationships to learning and education. Many students also took the opportunity in their Welcome section to articulate their education as well as their professional goals as it related to science education. Students often strategized ways to adopt portions of the ePortfolio to show perspective employers (for pre- and in-service teachers or to gain tenure (for in-service teachers).
Videotape sessions of the formative presentations are available along with the free-write feedback. The videotape is currently the strongest evidence showing the level of engagement in this activity. We also survey students about their experience with the formative presentation activity.
Student work and ePortfolio examples associated with this and other similar practices has been collected as evidence.
For the next iteration of the formative presentation (fall 2012/spring 2013) I will download the ePortfolio drafts corresponding to the formative presentation and compare it to the final submission. I will also ask students to write a brief summary indicating how they improved their ePortfolio corresponding entries they presented as a result of the formative presentation process.
I would also like to experiment more with the collaborative entry assignment. In particular, not restricting collaboration to only science education students in the ePortfolio capstone project course, but to open it to anyone on campus and perhaps in the students’ professional sphere.