Over time, student and teacher portfolios have taken several forms for a variety of purposes. Initially, portfolios were created in many educational settings to document learning. Portfolios were used as one means of assessment in course work or for senior graduation exhibitions. As calls for educational reform continued to be heard in forums ranging from local school board offices to the Oval Office, teacher accountability has become an issue of paramount importance. Parents and politicians alike want assurance that the most competent teachers are providing quality educational experiences for students. Thus, teacher assessment has become a “hot” political topic throughout our country.
MAIN FOCUS: ELECTRONIC PORTFOLIOS FOR NEW TEACHERS
The use of electronic portfolios in teacher education is growing dramatically. For the past five years, the conference proceedings of the Society of Information Technology in Teacher Education showed an average of 45 presentations under the topic of Electronic Portfolios. In addition, the commercial sector has discovered potential opportunities to support electronic portfolios for teacher education. According to Barrett and Knezek (2003), there are more than a dozen commercial providers offering electronic portfolio services.
In the last eight years, across America, teacher education programs have required that student teachers create portfolios as evaluation instruments to address the often mandated INTASC (Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium, 1987) Principles required of all education majors prior to obtaining teacher certification and licenses.
Dr. Helen Barrett (2003) defines a portfolio “as a purposeful collection of [teacher] work that illustrates efforts, progress, and achievement in one or more areas over time” (paragraph 3). This selective collection of teacher work and evidence of development and progress is gathered across diverse contexts over time and is grounded in critical reflection of one’s teaching practice and professional growth. Its aim is to create a contextual view of a teacher’s work. For assessment purposes, teacher portfolios are often framed by requirements such as the need to show competence in state educational teaching standards and university specific performance tasks.
The benefits of teacher portfolios in general include: making the invisible practices of teachers visible, enhancing teaching practices, promoting self-reflection, and authentic assessment. Portfolios have created opportunities for meaning-making and ownership of learning, and provided a venue for self-definition. DiMarco writes: “Web portfolios are important as vehicles for lifelong learning, assessment and marketability and they are challenging students and faculty to respond to the demands of societal web portfolio integration” (DiMarco, 2006, p. 5).
This article describes the characteristics, processes, construction, and audiences of student teacher portfolios. In addition, the chapter highlights specific traits of electronic portfolios and implications for the future.