Effects of Teacher Portfolio Construction on English Language Teachers' Perceived Teaching Competencies

Effects of Teacher Portfolio Construction on English Language Teachers' Perceived Teaching Competencies

Ece Zehir Topkaya, Handan Çelik
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1747-4.ch011
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This study investigates the effects of teacher portfolio construction upon in-service English language teachers' perceived teaching competencies. With the participation of six non-native teachers, data were collected through questionnaires and semi-structured interviews conducted before and after a sixteen-week teacher portfolio construction program. Analyses of the data through descriptive statistics and inductive content analysis revealed that the teachers' perceptions related to their teaching competencies were quite high prior to the portfolio construction process. After the process, however, decrease was observed in the teachers' perceived competencies. Findings also showed that the portfolio construction program was effective for the teachers' in that the process led them to become more self-evaluative, thus reflective and realistic about their competencies.
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In the current climate of teaching profession, the need to improve the quality of teaching is getting more pressurizing since research shows that teacher quality is closely related with student achievement and school improvement (Borko, 2004; Smith & Gillespie, 2007; Yoon, Duncan, Lee, Scarloss & Shapley, 2007). In this context, depending solely on initial teacher education to attain high standards for teachers would not prove to be effective because it cannot provide teachers with knowledge and skills necessary for a lifetime of teaching. Thus, sustaining professional development (hereafter PD) throughout their careers is a vital need for teachers. To this end, they may use a number of tools such as attending short-term training courses, seminars and conferences, participating in teachers’ network, teaching in teams, joining in study groups, so on and so forth (Tarnowski, Gleason, Gleason & Songer, 1998; Wilson & Berne, 1999; Crandall, 2000; Rhodes & Beneicke, 2002; Adey, Hewitt, Hewitt & Landau, 2004).

In this context, teacher portfolio appears to create another avenue for PD. By documenting teachers’ abilities, strengths, styles, and by bringing workplace experience together, teacher portfolios serve as a tool for capturing the complexity of teaching, documenting growth over a period of time, encouraging teachers to have voice in their own evaluation, and promoting more self-reflection (Bull, Montgomery, Coombs, Sebastian & Fletcher, 1994; Tarnowski et al., 1998; Zepeda, 2008).

Regardless of the phase they are introduced to teachers, i.e. pre or in-service, teacher portfolios have proven to play a significant role in encouraging growth and change in teachers’ competencies. For instance, in the context of competence-based teacher education, portfolios have been promoted as tools for the development and assessment of pre-service teachers’ teaching competencies (Struyen, Blieck & De Roeck, 2014; Admiraal, Janssen, Huizenga, Kranenburg, Taconis & Corda, 2014). Despite not being free from challenges like negative attitudes of university teachers, time constraints, or workload, portfolios have also been found to be useful instruments for monitoring pre-service teachers’ learning, performance, and achievements over a period of time (Kabilan & Khan, 2012). In that sense, they are recognized to evidence learning and to identify strengths and weaknesses. Similarly, teacher portfolios have also been concluded to facilitate a more reliable and valid assessment of in-service teachers’ competencies as they give more voice to their creators and assessors for peer debriefing, prolonged engagement, cross checking, holistic examination, and transparency (see Admiraal, Hoeksma, Van de Kamp & Van Duin, 2011).

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