Friday, March 10, 2006

The big picture of student learning: Eportfolios

a few pebbles from a beach

three city lights

a pen and a piece of paper

None of these tells the whole picture. Most teachers' tests and quizzes focus on a discrete part of the curriculum and often those assessments focus on the most easily measured but not the most critical parts. For example, a teacher may give a quiz on A Midsummer Night's Dream that has the students identify what actions the major characters did in the scene but the teacher does not ask how that characters' action illustrate a major theme in the play.

Students can present the big picture of their learning through eportfolios as long as the eportfolios do not chop up the learning into tiny pieces. In most assessments the tiny pieces do not create a combined whole; they are a holding tank of tiny discrete items. For example, some learning institutes (K12 schools and universities) have picked certain proficiency subparts to measure. A proficiency may have four parts – A, B, C, D. The students do each part but they do not show how they four parts become the whole proficiency. The dots do not connect.

When students focus on the big picture of their learning (the whole proficiency) such as how they show that they can critically analyze literature (ELA Standard 3, New York State), they can show many different kinds of critical analysis. They can show examples from poetry analysis, from watching a play, from comparing two novels, and from their feedback on another student's writing.

Go from a microscopic view of learning to a wide-angle lens of student learning.


At 11:45 AM, Blogger hboga02 said...

I think the idea of the eportfolio in itself is a great idea. I think that the students of today are extreamly motivated by the ability to use technology of any form to complete their assignments. Giving them this ability will allow the teacher to see better results.
I also agree with the concept of showing the big picture. It is important that students fully comprehend and are able to apply what they have learned. In my opinion, whether a students answers a questions correctly or writes a good paper does not matter. It matters more about the thoughts and ideas and knowledge that went into answering the question or writing the paper. I think that was very important to ensure they 'connect the dots'. I will think about this during all lessons.


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