Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Scaffolding reflection

Scaffolding As our class of approximately 200 first year biological science students continue to develop their ePortfolios, I've been documenting the process here. If you've read the earlier posts you'll know that the rationale behind this experiment is to promote personal development by enhancing reflection rather than to produce a document of record which would be directly relevant to employers.

At our monthly meeting yesterday I talked about progress to date and reflected on the process of reflection, most of which was largely culled from previous discussions here. As we marked the most recent iteration using the ePortfolio assessment criteria we adopted, there seemed to be some encouraging signs that the process is working, at least in a proportion of cases. Some students at least have realized that an ePortfolio is not an elaborate multimedia CV, and are showing clear reflective tendencies.

One of the points raised at the meeting was the element of game-playing by some students to tick off the assessment criteria. Aristotle believed that we learn to become virtuous by first acting virtuously, and the act of continuing ePortfolio construction seems to be contributing towards becoming a reflective practitioner.

We also discussed the need for better scaffolding, and whether the chronological structure which is emerging in some of the ePortfolios we have seen recently suggests that a blog framework would be better than the more free-form wiki architecture in encouraging archiving and retrieval of reflective thoughts. I tend to think that it would be and will definitely be moving in this direction in future years.

Finally, there was discussion as to how much personal tutors should be involved in the ePortfolio processes. This is a two-edged sword in my opinion, and while I'm happy for personal tutors to see the output, I'm dubious as to what role they could play in the production. Show me the tutors who blog regularly and reflectively and I'll accept them as good role models.

ToDo List:
  • Consider assessment criteria for blogfolio format
  • Decide on architecture for blogfolios ( - emphasise static pages for navigation, tagging for archiving and retrieval, marking)
  • Create exemplar based on anonymized material from this year
  • Think how to reduce assessment load while still providing feedback (give feedback 3 times, end of first week/fortnight, mid-term, terminal feedback + mark?)