E-Portfolio: A Platform for Reflective Practice in Teacher Education Program

E-Portfolio: A Platform for Reflective Practice in Teacher Education Program

Jasmine Jain, Johan Eddy Luaran
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4080-9.ch010
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This chapter focuses on the potential of using eportfolio in an academic setting, specifically in a teacher preparatory program. The advantages of using eportfolio as compared to its paper portfolio counterparts is also discussed in making the case of using eportfolio stronger. This chapter also discusses the benefits and challenges of using eportfolio as a tool to encourage reflections among the student teachers when they are on school placement, by quoting examples from a local case study. The study revealed that there are three ways student teachers look at the usefulness as well as three challenges they faced while constructing and developing eportfolio. The findings of the study gave insights about how eportfolio can be better used to improve students' reflective thinking, in line with the goals of the university's teacher education program.
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The workplace experience while studying, or many referred to as teaching practicum in a teacher preparatory program has often been sighted as necessary and compulsory experience for a certified teacher-to-be. This simply means that there is a need for a longer duration in exposing student teachers to the culture of schools by placing them in schools. However, host schools and student teachers in many research have expressed that the contradictory scenarios are happening in school- with lack of mentoring staffs and disturbance to the existing classroom dynamics. Most schools are not willing to take in the student teachers because they view this as another burden that they have to shoulder by monitoring the development of student teachers. In most cases, they fear that they have to evaluate the student teachers’ performance and provide a report to the institution the student teachers are affiliated to. This means that the aim of allowing teacher’s development and transforming teaching and education are not happening (El Kadri & Roth, 2015; Smith& Lev-Ari, 2005).

In order to migrate the student teachers’ thinking from the notion of an instrumentalist’s learning practice through school placements where school is not a place to see what works, what are the best practices, but rather a place where their assumptions are challenged and contextualize theory into practice in-line with the postmodernist’s view (Bills et al., 2007), a revision to the structure of teaching practicum was conducted. The revised structure has nine different modules on practicum, with all nine targeting different areas of focus as compared to the initially two occurrences of school placement in the initial structure.

Many research had indicated that student-teachers can benefit from an increased time in school as well as reflecting on the existing practice they observe in schools (Bills et.al, 2007; Moyles & Stuart, 2003; Hodkinson & Hodkinson, 2005), hence the revision to the placement structure allows for student teachers to spend a longer time in school.

With the structure of teaching practice being expansive since 2015, the assessment for teaching practice also called for recalibration. The previous assessment was a mere compilation of paper-based report termed School Orientation Program (SOP) Report where they have to review and submit around 15-page report discussing about the host school’s background, administrative and academic structures, facilities etc. With the change in practicum structure, e-portfolio’s potential in encouraging deep learning and tracking student teacher’s development (Gray, 2008; Chau & Cheng, 2010) has been identified to be a suitable tool and has been used to compile student teachers’ experience in schools during their placements.

The use of e-portfolio as a tool to assess student teachers’ work, however, has not been thoroughly studied into since its adoption in 2015. The authors saw that there is a need to find out what are the student teachers’ perceived benefits and challenges in using e-portfolio as a reflective tool? These findings will inform the authors about the areas that need to be improved in order to make the learning journey and experience more meaningful for the student teachers.

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