Thursday, November 17, 2011

Parental Assessment of the E-Portfolios.

I've done electronic portfolios for both my Information Technology 11/12 students and with my information technology grade 8 class.  The numbers was a little different from what I imagined.  In this entry here is some of my data from my Grade 11/12 Information Technology class:
  • Out of 31 students 16 students returned the assessment of the portfolio.   That's only half the class and I need to continue nagging the students to get this done.  There could be a number of reasons why such a low number
    • Students did not want to have parents see the portfolio.
    • Students forgot to do it.
    • Parents did not have time to go through the assessment - it was a lot of work.
    • Students lost the assessment sheet.
  • Out of the 18 returned 2 were obviously not read or though about in regards to authentic assessment of their child's work.  The evidence was the parent/guardian gave their child Exemplar credit for every single item to consider, including spelling.  That means 14 were authentic or rather parents considered the work before assessing their child.
  • Some parents did not give exemplar credential but they did make positive comments for their child
  • two parents stated they did not understand the assessment and one of them stated they could not do it.
  • 2 had no time to do it (understandable considering the time it would take to do the assessment - going over everything we've covered so far - at least 28 assignments - from September to the end of October.
  • I need to create a rubric or assessment sheet whereas both the student and the parent/guardian do this together, sharing the learning, and learning about what the student is doing.  This would make this assessment more valuable.
  • This assessment is realistic, involving partners in learning, and need to be more specifics for performance skills and specific work to be illustrated and discussed.
  • It would be easier for parents to see an example before the assessment of their own child's work, seeing the expectation of the teacher and what was asked of the student.  Something to consider for the future.

According to Lorenzo & Ittelson, 2005 a portfolio is a purposeful selection of artifacts together with reflections that represent some aspect of the owner's learning.  I started using eportfolios  for the ease of marking using Facebook.  When students uploaded their work demonstrating a skill in a specific aspect of a program, it was easy to mark because all their work appeared on my wall in FaceBook.  What was not expected was the overwhelming amount of work to assess.  I was hoping that there would be ore peer assessment but the most basic practise was clicking on the "Like: button, with only a few students (23%) doing actual authentic assessment (giving examples of what the peer's opinion was and how to change the art work).  The next time I start with electronic portfolios I need to emphasis the need to peer assessment and the authentic reasoning behind this method of assessment.

An ePortfolio is a purposeful collection of information and digital artifacts that demonstrates development or evidences learning outcomes, skills or competencies.
The process of producing an ePortfolio (writing, typing, recording etc.) usually requires the synthesis of ideas, reflection on achievements, self-awareness and forward planning; with the potential for educational, developmental or other benefits.
The reflection was evident in approximately 81% of the students, but it took more then a month to get students to self-critique using the critical thinking  process.  Students need to learn to analyze what they are thinking, to explain the important aspects of their work, ad to solve any problems they have.  They need to synthesis their work.  Syntheses is organizing, constructing, composing and creating your finished results.  Students can organize their work in Facebook, construct new ideas, compose their work and finish their final product, but when they need to assess their finished product, many of the students believe (still) that if they give negative feedback on their own work, they will receive negative marks.  

This process is a change in the students’ concept or understanding of grading, something instilled in most children since Grade 1.  The fact that negative criticism usually means a low mark, not a means of informal assessment.  This is far from the truth. This change in the understanding of evaluation or assessment takes time, and relearning, to break this cycle of "assessment must be numbers".  This is also a huge change for parent understanding as well.  They also need to be informed of the difference between informal and formal education.

Finally, next time I start eportfolios with students it is best to explain in detail why I want students to keep electronic portfolios.  I need to explain that this is a portfolio of showing skills, but also of assessment and personal development/growth of learning.  According to Cotterill: 
Specific types of ePortfolios can be defined in part by their purpose (such as presentation, application, reflection, assessment and personal development planning), pedagogic design, level of structure (intrinsic or extrinsic), duration (episodic or life-long) and other factors.
More consideration needs to be made of the purpose of the porfolio as well as the presentation.  Once more, an exemplar would be useful for this, one attached to my Facebook wall, so that students can see the work (and the critical thinking and self-assessment of the exemplar) and understand by example what is expected from them.  Giving out the rubric at the start of the portfolio did not work well with this group.  Perhaps with the next group it may help.

Next step, doing a similar experience with grade 8 students in Info Tech.  The students used Webnode for their eportfolios, with blogs of critical thinking and perspective of different subject matters (such as artificial intelligence, artificial limbs, cyber bullying, the life of Steve Jobs and his contribution to the computer world to name a few).  For this assessment I am looking at a partnership of parents, students and I assessing the thinking of students.  Not so much their opinion as much as backing up their opinion.  According to Dan Kurland
We are thinking critically when we
  • recognize the relevance and/or merit of alternative assumptions and perspectives
  • recognize the extent and weight of evidence

  • evaluate all reasonable inferences
  • consider a variety of possible viewpoints or perspectives,
  • remain open to alternative interpretations
  • accept a new explanation, model, or paradigm because it explains the evidence better, is simpler, or has fewer inconsistencies or covers more data
  • accept new priorities in response to a reevaluation of the evidence or reassessment of our real interests, and
  • do not reject unpopular views out of hand.
This is my hope for my students.  We'll see if this is happening.

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