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Action Research 2.0 Project Planning for Kati Vilonen[muokkaa]

My blogg on ELGG: [3]

Title: E-portfolio as Learning and Assessment Tool in a First Year Chemical Engineering Course

Overall aim: The main aim in the use of e-portfolio is to activate students to think and estimate their own learning and working during the whole course. Another aim is to offer an alternative assessment tool instead of final exam to better evaluate the process of learning during the course and emphasis the role of knowing and understanding as a learning objectives instead of memorizing.

Key words: portfolio, assessment, feedback, activation

Key developmental goals of the project: (3-5 ideally)

=> To increase the number of students documenting their learning with e-portfolios instead of final exam. Last year, in the very first attempt to utilize e-portfolio as an assessment tool in this same course only 10% of students choose portfolio option.

=> Give an alternative way to assessment concentrating more on the development of knowledge and understanding instead of memorizing details in the exam.

=> An attempt to get more experience to combine teaching of knowledge and skills, including also studying skills such reporting, summarizing and self-evaluation, which are important to practice already from the beginning of studies.

=> To gather experience and evidence from the use of e-portfolio as an assessment tool in a teacher's perspective to utilize e-portfolios later in some other courses.

Key research questions of the study: (3-5 ideally)

  • Does the portfolios improve learning and change surface approach to more deep understanding? Some comparison, probably in a form of questionnaire, will be made between student groups collecting portfolios and studying for final exam.
  • Is portfolio a reliable tool for assessment? This can be done by comparing the results of the students on next course, which is arranged on the next studying period, right after this course.
  • Can the keen learning outcomes be assessed? List of outcomes and description how they can be seen in portfolio or in exam must be made.
  • What are the resources needed from students and teacher? Does portfolio work require more resources when compared with final exam? This will be done by counting the working hours of teacher during the course.

Research methodology and methods: (outline of approach to research and main methods with reference to key literature) Evaluation of students learning will be based either on their portfolio, which includes all tasks, exercises and students' own evaluation of their learning or on their answers in exam. Also comparisons to their progress on later courses will be used in estimation of the quality of their learning. Comments and group discussions (anonymous writing area in VLE) during the course and feedback after the course will be used to evaluate students’ feelings and ways of working. Boyce and Singh (2008) have also used students’ outcomes to assess their learning. (Literature review is not completed yet, for example some examples of used feedback questionnaires would be needed!)

Research ethics: (Include a short statement outlining potential ethical issues that you may face and in particular how you will ensure informed consent, anonymity, confidentiality, beneficence i.e. positive good and non-malfeasance i.e. no harm). Because portfolio includes personal information, thoughts and reflection of own learning it can be private if students want so. Every student choosing portfolio instead of final exam will got an individual folder with pre-determined structure to collect all items included to portfolio. Only exception will be the calculation exercised which are allowed to return also in paper form. An individual assessment table of different parts of portfolio will be included. I am also planning that students own folder would be visible to only students itself at first place. If students want to share the content with others who are also willing to share their content, they would be able to see each others portfolios! I am wondering a little bit should all portfolios be open to all others doing portfolios as a basic assumption? However, I am afraid that it would restrict students writing about their own learning if it must be public to all others. Maybe one solution might be that exercises etc. included to portfolio must be public but the own reflection of learning not. One question is also the intellectual property issues of material used and the separation of own and cited material, discussed in article 7 things you should know about digital story telling (Anon. 2007).

Review of relevant literature, version 0.1 (~1500 words plus list of references) This literature review is not finish yet, there will be needed more searches, reading, evaluation and summarization! At this stage most of the references are found using Google and open access materials. Maybe some targeting towards engineering education or even education in chemical engineering is needed? Although the use of portfolio as an assessment tool did not probably change very much between disciplines...

Targets for use of (e-)portfolios Barker (2005) determines e-portfolio as a learning tool, an assessment tool, and a record of achievement. It includes both process and product, being motivational by focusing on what person can do! Barker (2005) has also listed different types of e-portfolios and aspects in assessment to be used in different purposes, depending on the goal of using portfolio and also the age of students. The goals and use of e-portfolio are the same than traditional portfolio, an introduction of electronic tools such make its use easier and more effective, for example with ease access and no problems with physical storage (Meyer and Latham, 2008). Based on experience of Watson et al. (2007) portfolio supports students’ self-assessment, emphasizes learning process over product and enables evaluation of learning during the course. Also Barker (2005) emphasis two sides of portfolio as an assessment tool, used both evidence of person’s learning and the individuals reflection of own work. Portfolio provides a wealth of information and gives ways to communicate about students’ development status and also motivates learner. One important question is however how to verify the claims of skills and knowledge presented in portfolio, which is also a question in all works produced by students (Barker 2005). Watson et al. (2007) have used open portfolios in a web-based system with shared content. This type of open system would made it possible to students to utilize their portfolio easier later and encourage to develop wider portfolio for their studies to be used later for example as an attachment in work applications? A concept ‘Portfolios for life’ was presented by Watson et al. (2007). Based on the survey made by Ward and Moser (2008) employers in general are not yet familiar with e-portfolios, but the use of them would give clear benefits as time-saving and cost-effective recruitment tool and they use will increase in future.

Ways of using portfolios as tool for assessment In their literature review Meyer and Latham (2008) have find out the importance of institutional support in the development of curriculum level use of e-portfolios. They found evidences that the implementation should be done in stepwise and planned carefully. There were also two different main purposes to use e-portfolios either more on accreditation purposes or more on program and administration purposes. As a conclusion Meyer and Latham suggested e-portfolios to be used in every program interested in performance-based assessment system. Boyce and Singh (2008) had used a portfolio as the assessment tool in an analytical chemistry course including both theory and laboratory components featuring problem based learning. They emphasized the importance of explaining the learning approach of portfolio and giving the examples of issues wanted in portfolio, also a general structure with different categories was given to students. If portfolio is based only the material collected and produced during the course there is a risk that students focus only the end products instead of learning process during the course, noticed by Drenoyianni (2004). Author thought that this might be avoided by collecting and interpreting the content of portfolio during the course and not in the end.

About the use of action research... Cohen et al. have determined an eight-stage process of action research attempting to draw together the strands and steps needed. 1) identification, evaluation and formulation of problem 2) preliminary discussion and negotiations among the interested parties & statement of the questions to be answered 3) a review of research literature 4) modification or redefinition of the initial statement of the problem at stage one & explicating assumptions underlying the project 5) selection of research procedures 6) choice of evaluation procedures to be used 7) the implementation of the project itself 8) interpretation of data

Anon. 7 things you should know about digital story telling, Educause learning initiative 2007 http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7021.pdf Cited on 5.1.2009

K.C. Barker, ePortfolio for the Assessment of Learning, http://www.futured.com/documents/FuturEdePortfolioforAssessmentWhitePaper.pdf Cited on 5.1.2009

Mary C. Boyce and Kuki Singh, Student Learning and Evaluation in Analytical Chemistry Using a Problem-Oriented Approach and Portfolio Assessment, Journal of Chemical Education, 85 (12) (2008) 1633-1637.

L. Cohen, L. Manion and K. Morrison, Research methods in education, RoutledgeFalmer, Taylor & Francis Group, 5th edition, (2005) pp. 226-241.

H. Drenoyianni, Design and implementing a project-based ICT course in a teacher education setting: Rewards and pittfals, Education and Information Technologies 9(4) 2004 387-404.

B. Meyer and N. Lantham, Implementing electronic portfolios: Benefits, challenges and suggestions, Educause Quarterly, 1 (2008) 34-41. http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/EQM0816.pdf Cited on 5.1.2009

C. Ward and C. Mosel, E-portfolio as a hiring tool: Do employers really care? Educause Quarterly, 4 (2008) 13-14. http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/EQM0842.pdf Cited on 5.1.2009

C. E. Watson, J. D. Baron, and M. Peet, ePortfolio for Assessment, Student Learning, and Career Development: Applications of Open Source Portfolio (OSP), http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/EDU07102.pdf Cited on 5.1.2009


Activity plan: (a programme of work with particular tasks to be done)

I) Determination of course content and wanted learning outcomes (almost ready, just some re-check needed and perhaps some fine-tuning based on feedback from last year). Determination of portfolio structure based on learning outcomes, writing explanations and examples for students and general assessment criteria (perhaps some kind of rubric), to be done before 19.1.2009

II) Portfolio structure will be based mostly on small written tasks and calculation exercises during the course, plus a few page review, reflection of learning will be included. So the planning of those tasks and exercises must be done partly before the course start (19.1.) and latest until the end of January.

III) Planning of the feedback and evaluation of learning will be started already during the planning of the course and portfolio structure, but it must be finalized during the course, before the end of February.

IV) Gathering the results of learning outcomes from portfolios, feedback and final exam, comparing them and trying to conclude the results of using portfolios. Collecting the most important development issues for the next year!