Bryofolios: Individual and Group E-portfolio Learning Spaces for Developing Authentic Science Scholars

Bryofolios: Individual and Group E-portfolio Learning Spaces for Developing Authentic Science Scholars

Joanne Nakonechny (University of British Columbia, Canada) and Shona Ellis (University of British Columbia, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0143-7.ch003

Abstract

Throughout this chapter, the authors trace how the theoretical and practical understanding, interpretation, and interactions with e-portfolios and their implementation support, both individually and through group work, students’ abilities to engage in deeper structure learning, and their resulting growth as authentic science scholars. The bryofolio, an individual and group course e-portfolio, begins this online journey to facilitate deeper structure learning for 31 students in Biology 321, Bryophytes: Mosses, Hornworts and Liverworts. (“Bryfolio” is a contraction of “bryophytes” and “e-portfolio.”) Initially, the authors give a short introduction to science education and how constructivist learning theory can include the use of e-portfolios as a teaching method. Following this, e-portfolios are situated within the learning context by providing a definition, a condition, and discussion on the key e-portfolio element,of critical reflection. The authors continue by introducing the bryofolio, its major components, and our analysis of how the bryofolio encourages deep structure learning at both individual and group levels.
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Changing The Scene: Constructivist Learning Theory

While the processes of knowing are complex and still not fully understood, it is generally accepted that “people construct new knowledge and understandings based on what they already know and believe” (Bransford, Brown et al., 2000, p. 10). Constructivism, emphasizing cognitive development in reasoning, problem-solving, and prior conceptions (Bertrand, 1995), situates the learner within a complex contextualized learning environment. Constructivist instructional approaches combine three factors: paying attention to students’ knowledge and beliefs; using these knowledge and beliefs as a beginning for instruction; and checking on what the students are learning (Bransford et al., 2000, p. 11). Acknowledging the student as the locus of learning (Brooks, 1993) changes the dynamic of how the learning occurs. It is now the student working with both prior knowledge concepts and new information, not the instructor, who constructs new knowledge by integrating the new information into previous knowledge nets. After learning about e-portfolios, we saw the possibility of further implementing constructivist instructional approaches in Biology 321 by providing an online contextually and conceptually scaffolded e-portfolio space to facilitate students' knowledge construction and integration, the Bryofolio.

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