portfolios


According to Professor Newberry, portfolios and authentic assessment have almost become buzzwords in education. Despite this, these are concepts that have a lot going for them for eLearning. In this session we took a look at these ideas

 


1. Provide a project update. What is your working title?

Using TRAILS as a Library Skills Activities and Assessment Tool

I’d like to create a set of online library skills activities for students at Cerritos College using the free web-based assessment tool called TRAILS (Tool for Real Time Assessment of Information Literacy Skills) that features multiple-choice questions that target a variety of information literacy skills based various grade standards. I’ve looked at the 12th grade standard questions and they would be suitable for students at Cerritos College. The assessment items are based on the American Association of School Librarians’ Standards for the 21st-Century Learner and those from the Common Core State Standards Initiative that have been adopted by most states. The system was developed so that librarians can use and customize for their own library users.

Thankfully, Brian suggested a project like this was too ambitious for this particular class and timeframe but perfect for the design and development class. So I’m taking his advice and for this project I’ll be exploring the TRAILS assessment tool and determining what it would take and what would be needed to develop the system for Cerritos College. This will include setting up an account and doing some pilot tests myself. I did a literature search and found little on the TRAILS tool itself but much on the development of online assessments and online exercises for library skills. Other than that, I hate to admit I haven’t gotten very far at all. But that’s what Thanksgiving break is for right??

2. How is your project connected to eLearning?

According to the website e-learningnc.gov, eLearning is learning utilizing electronic technologies to access educational curriculum outside of a traditional classroom. Libraries have been delivering content electronically for years and it can be argued that on campuses across the country it was the library that paved the way for e-learning by providing online catalogs, databases, and research guides even before schools were offering online courses. Libraries tend to be on the cutting edge of technology.

Although many libraries today do provide online, interactive library skills exercises, the Cerritos College library does not. We have static research guides with links to resources and skills exercises, in Word format, available within the guide. But they aren’t interactive and the students get no feedback. We have also posted many video tutorials that students can watch. Again, not interactive. By making a set of interactive skills exercises available 24/7 the library will be filling a need for not only distance education students who are not able to get to the library but also for any student who feels more comfortable working in a virtual environment. The exercises will be self-administered, either at the recommendation of the librarian after a one-shot library orientation or on the student’s own initiative independent of an orientation. Students completing the activities would receive immediate feedback online. The assessment would enable the librarians to determine the information literacy competencies of the students and adjust our library instruction program as needed.

Skills categories might include:

  • Developing a topic
  • Identify potential sources
  • Develop, use, and revise search strategies
  • Evaluate sources and information
  • Recognize how to use information responsibly, ethically, and legally

How might this look on the Cerritos College Library website? Well, here’s how City College of San Francisco set up their online skills exercises:

CityCollegeSFWorkshops

3. How is your project relevant for you?

This is a project I’ve wanted to do for a long time but time constraints at work always pushed it to the back burner. Being able to do it now, while I’m on sabbatical and learning all about e-learning and educational technologies is a an ideal situation. To be able to have something tangible to implement in my library at the end of my sabbatical will be very rewarding.

4. What are the three most interesting/relevant/informative/important articles in your bibliography for your project?

Here are four:

  • Allen, M. (2008). Promoting critical thinking skills in online information literacy instruction using a constructivist approach. College & Undergraduate Libraries. 15, 21-38. doi: 10.1080/10691310802176780
  • Donaldson, K.A..(2000). Library research success: designing an online tutorial to teach information literacy skills to first-year students. The Internet and Higher Education. Winter 2(4), 237–251. doi:10.1016/S1096-7516(00)00025-7
  • Eschedor Voelker, T.J., Schloman, B.F., & Gedeon, J.A.(2013). Pathways for success: the evolution of TRAILS and transitioning to college. Informed Transitions: Libraries Supporting the High School to College Transition. 209-216. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.kent.edu/libpubs/15

5. What is authentic assessment in your context. Please explain important details like grade level, content area etc.

According to the Authentic Assessment Toolbox, authentic assessment is a form of assessment in which students are asked to perform real-world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills. An authentic assessment usually includes a task for students to perform and a rubric by which their performance on the task will be evaluated.

So how can a librarian assess what students have learned in a library skills class? Authentic assessment! By using active learning techniques such as library skills exercises completed by students in the library stacks or the online databases we can assess not only the learning that has taken place but also the effectiveness of our instruction. According to the constructivist theory of education, the learner should be an active participant in the process. Learning by doing insures active participation and can employ critical thinking and problem solving skills.

There are many examples of authentic assessment in my college level introductory library skills class. In one exercise I want to determine if the students can locate and use the different types of print sources we’ve learned about. I develop a series of questions and have the students work in pairs to find the answer using a library resource. They must determine which source to use, find the answer to the question, and then bring it and the resource back to the classroom. They then share their findings with the class. Which resource did they use? Why did they pick that particular source? How is it organized? Was it easy to use or difficult? And finally, what’s the answer to the question? The rest of the class can ask questions about the resource and/or suggest other resources they might have used. The students enjoy this exercise because it’s sort of like a scavenger hunt and they get to achieve that “eureka” moment when they find the resource that contains the answer. And the students learn about different resources from each other.

Another the exercise requires that the students use a database available on the library home page to search for resources on a topic of their choice. They must select the appropriate database, determine which keywords to use, and interpret, refine and limit their search results. Questions they must answer along the way are:

  • What is your topic?
  • What keywords will you use to search for resources?
  • Which database is most appropriate for this topic?
  • Your search:
  • What types of resources are in your results list? Are there books? Journals? List one of each.
  • Now use a limiter such as full-text or scholarly,
  • Now add additional search terms.
  • Select several resources you might use in your paper.

This assessment is authentic because the students are not simply selecting an answer from a multiple choice list. Rather they’re thinking, on their own, about all the resources and search strategy concepts they learned about. Then they use this knowledge to perform a task in which they’ll uncover useful information for a research paper. Their ability to complete the assignment serves as an assessment of how well they can apply the concepts – databases, keywords, search strategies, and distinguishing between types of resources.

6. What are three types of portfolios? Choose one type of portfolio and explain how you could implement it in some eLearning setting.

In his lecture, Professor Newberry listed three types of portfolios:

  • Reflective
  • Learning
  • Performance or Demonstrative

The experience I’ve has in my two ETEC classes this semester has given me insight on how well portfolios can be integrated into a course. I never even considered asking my library skills students to create an online portfolio, but I now have confidence that it can be done and it can bring another level of learning into the course. This idea is still in it’s infancy, but I will ask the students to create a Library Learning Portfolio using a free blogger site. This learning portfolio will allow them to post their skills exercises and the results of their searches. Since the course builds weekly towards the final research project, which is an annotated bibliography, the portfolio would be a repository for all the resources they might use in that final project. Not only are they building their library and information skills by completing the skills exercises, but they’re also developing their creative, organization, and technology skills by creating a blog. At the end of each lesson, besides the skills exercise, I will include a question that requires them to really think about the various information literacy concepts each exercise addresses. What added value is there in the library catalog? Why would you use a library database rather than Google? In order for this to work the way I imagine I’d have to ask the students, at the beginning of the semester, to come up with a topic that they would use throughout the semester. The more I think about this, the more I like the idea! And yes, I’d have to create a rubric to grade this portfolio.

7. What is competency based learning? How could this impact your career?

The U.S. Department of Education describes competency based education as follows:

“Transitioning away from seat time, in favor of a structure that creates flexibility, allows students to progress as they demonstrate mastery of academic content, regardless of time, place, or pace of learning. Competency-based strategies provide flexibility in the way that credit can be earned or awarded, and provide students with personalized learning opportunities. These strategies include online and blended learning, dual enrollment and early college high schools, project-based and community-based learning, and credit recovery, among others. This type of learning leads to better student engagement because the content is relevant to each student and tailored to their unique needs. It also leads to better student outcomes because the pace of learning is customized to each student.

By enabling students to master skills at their own pace, competency-based learning systems help to save both time and money. Depending on the strategy pursued, competency-based systems also create multiple pathways to graduation, make better use of technology, support new staffing patterns that utilize teacher skills and interests differently, take advantage of learning opportunities outside of school hours and walls, and help identify opportunities to target interventions to meet the specific learning needs of students. Each of these presents an opportunity to achieve greater efficiency and increase productivity.”

According to Amy Kamenetz of NPR, more than 350 institutions of higher education are seeking to create competency-based degrees. Will this impact my career? Well, interestingly, librarianship has often been a field where competencies have taken the place of degrees. Individuals who work in libraries become “librarians” by default. In fact, Greg Lucas, a political writer who never even worked in a library, became the California State Librarian in March 2014. My understanding is that he’s enrolled in the masters program in librarianship at San Jose State University now.

But what about the technology needs for competency based education? As the US. Department of Education points out in the excerpt above and Professor Newberry states in his lecture, technology plays a big past in the competency based trend. Universities will have a need for individuals with educational technology and instructional design skills to develop the structure to allow online certifications to take place and to make sure they are as substantial as credit-based degree systems. And as Kamenetz points out, “competency-based programs need to be a lot more rigorous and transparent about designing assessments. Otherwise, they risk turning into diploma mills.” So again, educators with those skills will be in high demand.

8. Evaluate your participation in the discussion this week. Provide at least one quote from the discussion that supports your evaluation.

Authentic assessment, types of e-portfolios, and competency based learning were all new terms for me. I was unfamiliar with the concepts prior to this session. It was a lot to take in but the discussions helped me internalize the concepts. In fact, I posted my authentic assessment discussion post above because, thanks to the discussion, I was happy to find out I’m already doing authentic assessment in my library skills class. I also learned a lot about portfolios when I worked on my answer to Professor Newberry’s discussion prompt on portfolios. The articles he provided and the websites I found will be useful in the future as I integrate e-portfolios into my library skills class.

Discussion Prompt: What are some great portfolio tools and practices?

Blogs, webpages, your campus CMS and LMS can all be used to create portfolios. I’ve used them all to document my reflections, learning, and performance on everything from librarianship to triathlon to Crocs. What tool you use is not as important as the purpose, the process, and the content. Dave Guyman, a middle school teacher and educational blogger from Idaho, says that portfolios “tell a story that is important to the creator”. But they can also be interesting and important to the reader.

Guyman also states that a good portfolio should “craft a narrative of learning, growth and achievement over time. The best portfolios are those put together by students themselves.” He goes on to state that as our focus in the classroom continues to move toward performance-based assessment, portfolios can help teachers and their students to compose narratives that are memorable of their learning.

In our lecture reading, John Zubizaretta says that learning portfolios are flexible tools that should not only document the learning that has taken place but also engage students in continuous reflection, collaboration with peers and mentors, and improvement. I would say the best portfolio assignments get students excited and motivated about what they learn and in turn excited and motivated to express it in their own words, images, or whatever creative format suits them.

In addition to the Zubizaretta article, I found the following article very useful. It gives some general advice on how to determine and define the purpose of the portfolio project, how to use it in the classroom, and how to assess student portfolios.

I also found several sites that list some good portfolio tools, many of which are free:

9. Identify the student you think was the most important participant in the Blackboard discussion. Explain why and provide at least one quote from that student’s contributions to the Blackboard discussion.

This is always my least favorite question. How can I, a mere student and class colleague, decide such a thing? This week I really enjoyed reading the authentic assessment strategies the teachers use regularly in their classrooms and also getting the corporate perspective from others. I’m always impressed with everyone’s commitment and contributions in this class. This week Laura’s “Turkey Trouble” assignment was particularly entertaining. “The assignment was to take on the persona of a turkey and persuade the audience not to eat the turkey for Thanksgiving.” On that note, Happy Thanksgiving to all!!

10. Reflect on what you have learned this week. What have you learned that has the potential to inform or influence you or your practice of online learning going forward? Explain why.

As I stated earlier, authentic assessment, types of e-portfolios, and competency based learning were new concepts to me. I was happy to find out I’m already doing authentic assessment in my library skills class. And I’m pretty sure I subscribe to competency based education because I allow students to re-do skills exercises as needed. I mentioned this several weeks ago in fact when we were discussing grading. It’s important to me that they “get it” no matter how long it takes. The research and information literacy foundation they build in my class will serve them throughout their college and professional life. I certainly don’t want to sell them short just because their pace might be different from others. This week I also appreciated the fact that we were asked to think about how to incorporate e-portfolios into our class. I’m psyched to give it a try next Fall. Last but not least, I’m always amazed at how many articles are available on the topics we discuss. My working bibliography gets longer and longer each week!

References

Competency-based learning or personalized learning. (n.d.). U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/oii-news/competency-based-learning-or-personalized-learning

Kamenetz, A. (2014). Competency-based education: no more semesters? npr Ed. 7 October. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2014/10/07/353930358/competency-based-education-no-more-semesters

Online library skills workshops. (n.d.) City College of San Francisco. Library and Learning Resources. Retrieved from http://www.ccsf.edu/en/library/research-help/instruction/onlineworkshops.html

What is e-learning? (2014). eLEARNING NC.gov. Retrieved from http://www.elearningnc.gov/about_elearning/what_is_elearning/

Additional Resources

Baker, C.B. (2013). Authentic assessment in the library classroom: sustainable approaches. Georgia International Conference on Information Literacy. 23 August. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1001&context=cil-2012-2

Calllison, D. (1998). Authentic assessment. School Library Media Activities Monthly. 14(5). Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/aaslpubsandjournals/slr/edchoice/SLMQ_AuthenticAssessment_InfoPower.pdf


Other Discussion Topics This Week

1. Authentic Ideas and Experiences

  • Create and share an interesting or innovative authentic assessment experience.

How do we make online learning a more authentic experience, especially for grading?

  • Does Authentic Assessment really make the instructor work a lot harder?

I’m not sure if this would be categorized as Authentic Assessment because I’m having a bit of difficulty understanding the concept to tell you the truth. It doesn’t seem that different from what I do in my library skills class in general. Could it be a skills class like mine is all authentic assessment? I’ll give you an example of one in-class exercise we do…

I want to determine if the students can locate and use the different types of print sources we’ve learned about. I develop a series of questions and have the students work in pairs to find the answer using a library resource. They must determine which source to use, find the answer to the question, and then bring it and the resource back to the classroom. They then share their findings with the class. Which resource did they use? Why did they pick that particular source? How is it organized? Was it easy to use or difficult? And finally, what’s the answer to the question? The rest of the class can ask questions about the resource and/or suggest other resources they might have used. The students enjoy this exercise because it’s sort of like a scavenger hunt and they get to achieve that “eureka” moment when they find the resource that contains the answer. And the students learn about different resources from each other. In my situation this is an easy assignment to grade. I never used a rubric. I don’t know how well it would translate into an online assignment though…

2. Portfolio Ideas and Practices

What are some great portfolio tools and practices?

Blogs, webpages, your campus CMS and LMS can all be used to create portfolios. I’ve used them all to document my reflections, learning, and performance on everything from librarianship to triathlon to Crocs. What tool you use is not as important as the purpose, the process, and the content. Dave Guyman, a middle school teacher and educational blogger from Idaho, says that portfolios “tell a story that is important to the creator”. But they can also be interesting and important to the reader.

Guyman also states that a good portfolio should “craft a narrative of learning, growth and achievement over time. The best portfolios are those put together by students themselves.” He goes on to state that as our focus in the classroom continues to move toward performance-based assessment, portfolios can help teachers and their students to compose narratives that are memorable of their learning.

In our lecture reading, John Zubizaretta states that learning portfolios are flexible tools that should not only document the learning that has taken place but also engage students in continuous reflection, collaboration with peers and mentors, and improvement. I would say the best portfolio assignments get students excited and motivated about what they learn and in turn excited and motivated to express it in their own words, images, or whatever creative format suits them.

In addition to the Zubizaretta article, I found the following article very useful. It gives some general advice on how to determine and define the purpose of the portfolio project, how to use it in the classroom, and how to assess student portfolios.

Student Portfolios as an Assessment Tool

I also found several sites that list some good portfolio tools, many of which are free:

4 Free Web Tools for Student Portfolios

Great Tips and Tools to create Digital E-Portfolio

How could we make a portfolio work in a class like this one?

I really like e-portfolios, although I haven’t asked my library skills students to create them for class. Personally I have used LibGuides, our library CMS for my own peer evaluation portfolio. It’s what Professor Newberry described as a Performance or Demonstration portfolio and I share the link with my peer evaluators when I’m up for review. It makes the process so much easier. My first few reviews were comprised of huge notebooks with all kinds of supporting documentation in tabbed sections. The e-portfolio is much easier to create, carry, and view. Interestingly, Sakai, our LMS at Cerritos, has a portfolio module and so does our campus CMS. I tried using both, but decided that LibGuides was a better platform for my e-portfolio.

In this class I would liken our blog to an e-portfolio. The weekly submission requirement works well to help us document the story of our learning. The blog is combination of the three types of portfolios described in the lecture and readings – reflective, learning, and performance. In my ETEC 500 class we were just required to create an e-portfolio as a module assignment. I’m using that one to track my entire ETEC program of studies and I provided a link to my ETEC 648 blog. I feel this will serve me well for my sabbatical leave report for Cerritos College. That’s already a load of my mind!

References

Great tips and tools to create digital e-portfolio. Educational Technology and Mobile Learning. Retrieved from http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/01/great-tips-and-tools-to-create-digital.html

Guyman, Dave. (2014). 4 free web tools for student portfolios. Edutopia. 20 May. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/web-tools-for-student-portfolios-dave-guymonv

Emma McDonald. (2011). Student Portfolios as an Assessment Tool. Education World. Retrieved from http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/columnists/mcdonald/mcdonald025.shtml

Zubizarretta, John. (2008). The learning portfolio: a powerful idea for significant learning. The Idea Center. Idea Paper #44. Retrieved from http://ideaedu.org/sites/default/files/IDEA_Paper_44.pdf

 

 

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