Music Education Assessment Information
EFFECTIVENESS--ALONG WITH QUALITY--SHOULD BE THE FOCUS
Phi Delta Kappan, Feb98, Vol. 79 Issue 6, p468, 3p
Student learning must be the touchstone by which teachers and
teacher educators are gauged, say the authors. After studying the articles in
the November 1996 Kappan on "Quality Teaching for the 21st Century,"
they suggest that the authors in that section seem not to share thisview.
ARTHUR WISE deserves praise for his work as guest editor of
the special section on "Quality Teaching for the 21st Century," which
appeared in the November 1996 Kappan. The teacher preparation and licensure
community likewise deserves kudos for its progress in articulating policies
focused on the dual concepts of quality assurance and the professionalization of
teaching and for fostering the creation of the National Commission on Teaching
and America's Future, whose fall 1996 report, in Wise's words, "provides a
blueprint" for a new system of teacher preparation and development. 
We agree that teacher quality and professionalization are
appropriate anchor points for policy, but we take issue with the meanings that
are being given these anchors. The questions we wish to raise and address here
are: Quality assurance for what? Professionalization in whoseterms?
The Meaning of Quality Assurance
The authors in the November 1996 special section wrote of
quality assurance as some variation of "what teachers know and are able to
do." For example, Wise talked of three organizations - accreditation, state
licensing, and board certification - "working together to develop
complementary standards, so that preparation standards reflect the skills and
knowledge needed for state licensing examinations and so that
both accreditation and licensing help candidates and teachers
build the skills needed for success on board certification assessments."
 Inintroducing the recommendations of the National Commission on Teaching and
America's Future, Linda Darling-Hammond stated, "The plan is aimed at
ensuring that all schools have teachers with the knowledge and skills they need
to enable all children to learn."  She quoted the report of the
Commission as saying, "Our highest priority must be to reach agreement on
what teachers should know and be able to do in order to help students
Even Albert Shanker chose to focus on the knowledge side of
the equation rather than on the dimension of success with children. He suggested
that teachers and their organizations "work with licensing bodies and
professional standards boards to require that entering teachers meet high
national standards that include knowledge of their disciplines, knowledge of how
students learn, and knowledge of the liberal arts as measured by valid and
reliable assessments."  He went on to say that "teaching can be
respected as a genuine profession when there is evidence that teachers are
experts in their subject matter and do a good job of inducting students into
that expertise" - but he did not expand on this statement to make
effectiveness with students a real part of his argument. Indeed, no author in
the November special section mentioned directly the need to insure that teachers
are effective practitioners, able to foster the kinds and levels of learning
that are deemed desirable in their students. To our surprise, they uniformly
stopped short of calling for defensible evidence that a teacher actually
contributes to the learning progress of his or her students. By contrast, we
believe that any quality assurance system for teachers must include demonstrable
teacher effectiveness, as measured by the learning gains of students. A
demonstrably effective teacher (in contrast to a teacher who is merely
knowledgeable or skillful) is able to integrate and apply whatever knowledge and
skills are needed to advance the learning of a particular group of students
toward a particular learning goal under a particular set of conditions
(resources, time, and so on).
This conception of teacher quality is far more demanding than
one that focuses only on knowledge and skills, though knowledge and skills are
clearly important as enablers of effectiveness. For a quality assurance system
to enhance the professional practice of teachers, it must focus on teacher
accomplishments as well as on what teachers know and are able to do.
As states move toward a standards-based approach to schooling,
which requires that students master new levels and kinds of learning, the focus
on teacher accomplishments becomes increasingly important. The teaching/learning
contract in standards-based schools changes from one in which teachers provide
opportunities for students to learn and students decide how much they wish to
learn to one that is not fulfilled until students reach the level of learning
required by the standards.
When progress in learning is the touchstone, a quality
assurance system for teacher licensure needs to adopt performance criteria and
standards that reflect this fact.
The authors in the November special section devoted
considerable attention to "performance-based" licensing systems for
teachers as the most promising vehicle for quality assurance, but their
discussions of performance-based licensure - with the singular exception of
Gordon Ambach's description of INTASC (the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and
Support Consortium) - tended to be long on generalities and short on specifics.
To its credit, INTASC's approach to creating licensing standards is "based
on a holistic conception of career development for teaching professionals,"
and the resultant core standards "are linked directly to current views of
what students should know and be able to do in order to meet new K-12 standards
for learning challenging subject matter."  Each INTASC assessment is to
be structured to provide evidence from real-life teaching situations, including
"a formal assessment of student learning across several lessons, including
student commentary." 
It appears, then, that the teacher effectiveness criteria we
are arguing for are already incorporated within the INTASC design. But that is
not the case. The INTASC approach to performance-based licensure is focused on
the act of teaching, while we are calling for a focus on the learning gains of
every student in a given teacher's class - as well as of the class as a whole
and of various subgroups within it - over an extended period of time and toward
one or more explicitly stated outcomes. The INTASC performance assessment system
is clearly a step toward this level of quality assurance, but it falls short in
important ways that are clearly demonstrated by the nature of the performance
tasks that make up the proposed INTASC assessment system for teachers of
Task 1: Plan an instructional unit with an emphasis on how
problem solving, reasoning, communication, and connections form the structure of
the unit. Show how you use tools including manipulatives and technology. Reflect
on and revise the instruction.
Task 2: Teach a lesson to a class that addresses a particular
concept or procedure. Teacher-student discourse should be highlighted in a video
from the lesson. Evaluate the nature of mathematical discourse and give evidence
of the kinds of learning that took place.
Task 3: Assess learning for the purposes of diagnosis,
instructional feed-back, and grading. The different methods should address
mathematics processes as well as products.
Task 4: Conduct and analyze a small group lesson in which
students work in small groups and use manipulatives for problem solving or
reasoning. Student-student discourse should be highlighted in a video from the
Task 5: Assess mathematical power as demonstrated in students'
work in problem solving, reasoning, mathematical communication, mathematical
understanding, and mathematical dispositions. Plan instruction based on your
findings and your knowledge of the students.
Task 6: Develop as a professional by describing how you
collaborated with other professionals, analyzed your own teaching, and
contributed to the professional mathematics community. Establish professional
goals and develop a plan for continued development. 
A sample of student work from a lesson that has been taught
will permit one to draw inferences only about the nature of the work requested,
the extent to which that work reflects the learning goal or goals, and -perhaps
- the skill of a teacher in assessing learning. This adds up torelatively weak
evidence of the teacher's success in fostering learning; it doesn't even come
close to the kind of evidence required to meet the National Commission's charge
to administrators and teachers to "take on the difficult task of
guaranteeing teaching competence in the classroom"  - if, by competence,
the National Commission means the ability to foster the kind and level of
learning desired for students in 21st-century schools.
The certification process of the National Board for
Professional Teaching Standards is linked more closely than the INTASC process
to student learning. But the National Board still falls short of requiring the
kind of evidence of teaching effectiveness for which we are arguing. Teachers
seeking certification by the National Board are asked to "document and
analyze the progress of selected students and to develop specific strategies for
promoting the students' learning' (emphasis added).  We do not believe that
such evidence is adequate to guarantee that a teacher will be able to foster the
kind and level of learning desired for students in today's schools.
Still another carefully developed and widely advertised system
for assessing the performance of practicing teachers is PRAXIS III, marketed
through Educational Testing Service as part of its PRAXIS (Professional
Assessments for Beginning Teachers) series. PRAXIS III has much in common with
INTASC, but it demands even less in the way of evidence that teachers have an
impact on their students' learning. IN CONTRAST to INTASC, National Board
certification, and PRAXIS III, the teacher licensure system in Oregon has
required since 1986 that all prospective teachers provide evidence of their
impact on all their students' learning during two- to five-week units of
instruction that the prospective teachers have designed. The units, called
"teacher work samples," require the prospective teachers to identify
and sequence learning goals for a class that reflect statewide standards for
learning, to align instruction and assessment with those learning goals, to
monitor the progress of each student toward reaching the goals, to adapt
instruction to meet individual students' needs, and to summarize and report in a
meaningful fashion each child's learning progress.
Two such teacher work samples are required of each prospective
teacher. The first is prepared with the guidance and
assistance of teacher education faculty members and is
used largely to assess the prospective teacher's readiness
to prepare a second work sample independently.
Faculty roles during preparation of the second work sample are
limited to review and approval. The
students taught by a prospective teacher are assessed prior to and after
instruction, and each youngster's gain in learning is calculated separately.
Information is also collected about the classroom, school, and
community contexts in which the teaching and learning took place.
Finally, the prospective teacher is required to interpret the
learning gains he or she has been able to foster, in light
of the contexts in which teaching and learning occurred,
and to describe the uses to be made of these data in
planning further instruction and in reporting on learning
progress to pupils and their parents.
The use of teacher work samples in Oregon is intended:
* to focus the attention of prospective teachers and
teachereducators on student learning;
* to encourage teachers and teacher educators to go beyond
simpleacquisition of the knowledge, skills, and dispositions thought to engender
success as a teacher and to focus more strongly on ways to integrate
and apply these enabling factors in order to foster students'learning progress;
* to encourage teacher development programs to attend to the
assessment of student learning, to the alignment of assessment with curriculum
and instruction, to ways of interpreting and reporting pupil progress,
and to ways of using knowledge of pupil progress to plan future
* to give teachers the conceptual and procedural foundations
they need to function effectively in standards-based
* to inspire teachers philosophically and
methodologically toanchor their continuing development as professionals to pupil
learning. If a quality assurance system is to verify that
teachers are able to apply their knowledge and skills to
foster the kind and level of learning desired of students
in 21st-century schools, then obtaining evidence to that
effect through a system such as Oregon's seems essential.
EFFORTS TO improve teaching and learning by changing the
structure and organization of schools, by modifying the
curriculum, or by implementing curriculum-aligned testing
programs have done little to change what occurs between
teachers and students in individual classrooms. Efforts to
"empower" teachers have likewise failed to change appreciably what
occurs in classrooms, unless those empowerment efforts have been
accompanied by a concerted focus on the enhancement of student
learning. We suspect, moreover, that attempts to improve
teaching and learning by changing the structure and
organization of teacher preparation or licensing programs
will have little impact on what occurs in classrooms - as
long as those changes focus primarily on the knowledge and skills that
teachers are presumed to need. However, when students' learning progress
is the central focus of either staff development or school improvement
efforts, teaching practices do change and appreciable gains in
learning do occur.
No one is well served by incomplete conceptions of teaching. A
quality assurance system for teachers that focuses only on
what teachers know and are able to do, rather than on what
they are able (indeed, obligated) to accomplish, is - in
our view, at least -limited, misleading, and detrimental
to the professionalization of teaching. We maintain
instead that student learning must be the touchstone by which
teachers and teacher educators are gauged and on which their professional
status must rest. This view has not been advanced by most of
the groups that have issued recommendations aimed at the enhancement of
teachers and teaching. And, after studying the articles in the November
Kappan, we suspect that - despite their frequent allusions to student
learning - those authors do not hold this view either.
But we are not certain. What appears to be a difference in
viewpoint may in fact be only a matter of semantics, a
matter of emphasis, or a reflection of the historical lack
of a defensible way to tie student learning to teacher
work. We welcome this opportunity for clarification.
1. Arthur E. Wise, "Building a System of Quality
Assurance for the Teaching Profession: Moving into the 21st Century," Phi
Delta Kappan, November 1996, p. 192.
3. Linda Darling-Hammond, "What Matters Most: A Competent
Teacher for Every Child," Phi Delta Kappan, November 1996, p.
4. Ibid., p. 196.
5. Albert Shanker, "Quality Assurance: What Must Be Done
to Strengthen the Teaching Profession," Phi Delta Kappan,
November 1996, p. 224.
6. Gordon Ambach, "Standards for Teachers: Potential for
Improving Practice," Phi Delta Kappan, November 1996, p. 208.
7. Ibid., p. 209.
8. What Matters Most: Teaching for America's Future (New York:
National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, 1996),
9. Ibid., p. 199.
10. Mary Catherine Buday and James A. Kelly, "National
Board Certification and the Teaching Profession's Commitment to
Quality Assurance," Phi Delta Kappan, November 1996, p. 216.
11. Further information about teacher work samples and their
use can be found in Del Schalock and David Myton, "A New Paradigm
for Teacher Licensure: Oregon's Demand for Evidence of Success in
Fostering Learning," Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 39, no. 6,
1988, pp. 8-16; Del Schalock et al., "Extending Teacher Assessment Beyond
Knowledge and Skills: An Emerging Focus on Teacher Accomplishments,"
Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education, vol. 7, 1993, pp. 105-33;
and Andrew McConney, Del Schalock, and Mark Schalock, "Focusing
Improvement and Quality Assurance: Work Samples as Authentic Performance
Measures of Prospective Teachers' Effectiveness," Journal of
Personnel Evaluation in Education (in press). Critiques of the methodology and its use
can be found in Del Schalock, Mark Schalock, and Gerald R. Girod,
"Oregon's Teacher Work Sample Methodology," in Jason Millman, ed.,
Grading Teachers, Grading Schools: Are Learning Gains of Students
Appropriate Evaluation Measures? (Newbury Park, Calif.: Corwin Press,
A PARADIGM FOR PORTFOLIO ASSESSMENT IN TEACHER
THOMASENIA LOTT ADAMS
Education, Summer95, Vol. 115 Issue 4,
Current educational reform involves efforts to
improve the methods of assessment which
educators at all levels use for assessing teaching and learning.
Portfolios offer teacher educators unique ways of collecting authentic,
nontraditional assessment information about preservice teachers.
In this article, the author presents a paradigm for portfolio assessment
for the purpose of assessing preservice teachers. The author covers
three broad areas in the paradigm: the role of portfolios in the assessment
of preservice teachers, issues related to portfolio assessment,
and key ideas for implementing portfolio assessment. Teacher educators
are challenged by this paradigm to consider the role which portfolios
might serve as assessment tools in teacher education programs.
Educational reform is a prime task in the United
States, and it is no doubt that assessment of
teaching and learning at all levels is one of the
major foci of this reform. While there may not be anything new or authentic
about the techniques of assessment that are promoted by this reform,
implementation of these techniques has encouraged new discussions
about the role and variation of assessment in teacher education.
Several major questions are posed by teacher educators who are
engaged in current assessment reform efforts: For what purposes should
teacher educators assess preservice teachers? How should teacher educators
use results of assessment? Teacher educators are challenged to choose
assessment techniques which serve designated purposes and supply assessment
information which is authentic and useful. One
technique which is promoted by current educational reform is portfolio
assessment. A portfolio is a collection of a person's work or evidence
of some artistic, academic or scholarly activity. Portfolios are
akin to an artist's collection of sketches created, an architect's collection
of house plans designed, or a chef's collection of recipes created
and/or demonstrated. Essentially, portfolios represent a person's
past involvement, present involvement, and potential future involvement
in some designated activity.
This article suggests a paradigm for portfolios
as tools for assessment in preservice
education programs. Preservice education programs provide opportunities for
teacher educators to participate in assessment reform efforts
by exemplifying models of assessment. Through the use of portfolios,
teacher educators not only model an authentic assessment technique,
but teacher educators can also collect nontraditional assessment
information regarding teaching and learning in the preservice education
program. This information can then be used to improve preservice
teachers' academic preparation.
Establishing A Paradigm for Portfolios
Why Portfolios in Preservice Education
The first step in establishing a paradigm for
portfolios in preservice education is to
provide justification for employing portfolios for assessment.
Like any form of assessment, the technique is useful only if it
serves the intended purpose. In a broad sense, assessment is implemented
as means of collecting data which will be used to improve teaching
and learning. The first action for teacher educators is to identify
the role of the portfolio in the total assessment model. Below are
suggestions of assessment information that can be gathered through portfolio
1. Overall teaching potential of preservice
2. Depth and breadth of preservice teachers'
3. Depth and breadth of preservice teachers'
instructional methodology knowledge;
4. Perspectives on the preservice teachers'
creative abilities as related to curriculum
5. Preservice teachers' knowledge of particular
6. General professional and personal qualifies of
7. Characteristics of preservice teachers'
8. Preservice teachers' potential for social
interaction in a variety of school and
community settings and with a diverse population of
9. Preservice teachers' beliefs about teaching,
about students, about specific content areas,
and about specific instructional strategies.
10. Preservice teachers' abilities to organize
and collect assessment information; and
11. Examples of academic and professional tasks
and products completed by preset-vice
While the above list does not exhaust the
possibilities of assessment information that
can be collected through portfolios, it does provide a framework
for possible components. In addition, the list sheds light on the
variety of purposes for which portfolios may be used to assess preservice
teachers. The most general and supportive reasoning for implementing
portfolio assessment is the wealth of authentic assessment information
that can be obtained about individual and collective groups of
Decisions About Portfolios
There are several decisions regarding portfolio
assessment which must be made, especially if
the assessment technique is one which is used throughout
the preservice education program. Three of the most common questions
which teacher educators might ask are (a) What are the most appropriate
contents for a portfolio?; (b) How should teacher educators assess
the portfolio contents?; and (c) How should teacher educators use the
Portfolio Contents. The items that are to be
collected for portfolios rest solely on the
assessment information that is needed to respond to specific
and general questions about preservice teachers. For example, suppose
that (among other things) the portfolio is to serve to inform teacher
educators about preservice teachers' experiences with instructional
methodology. The contents of the portfolios might include
(a) samples of lesson plans designed and/or
implemented by preservice teachers, (b) an
annotated bibliography of journal articles related to instructional
methodology, (c) self-analysis reports of the preservice teachers'
teaching experiences, (d) analyses of instructional methodology
case studies, and (e) critiques by classroom teachers and other
school personnel of the preservice teachers' practice teaching experiences.
The contents of the portfolio are directly related to the questions
which teacher educators have about preservice teachers' and their
experiences in the preservice education program.
Assessing Portfolios. In general, portfolios can
contain a variety of information. Assessment
of the contents must be considerate of the individual
nature as well as the collective nature of the contents. When considering
the collective nature of the contents, the portfolio might be
assessed from a holistic point of view. In this situation, the main assessment
criteria is whether or not the contents offer a collective insight
into some characteristic of the preset-vice teacher. For example,
if the purpose of the portfolio is to present information regarding
preservice teachers' academic subject-matter knowledge for elementary
school teaching, the contents would be assessed evidence of the
preservice teachers' subject-matter knowledge and the extent to which
the information supports the preservice teachers' potential for implementing
elementary school curricula. On the other
hand, portfolio contents can be viewed individually to answer
similar, but more specific questions. In this sense, each piece of
information is viewed more closely to provide details about one or more
characteristics of the preservice teacher. In addition, individual items
may be examined to support the holistic view of the portfolio. Some
teacher educators might opt to grade portfolios on some basis (e.g.,
quality of products, quantity of products, etc.) while others might
opt to use the assessment information collected to complement some other
form of graded assessment. The choice to grade or not to grade and the
scale for grading rests completely on the purpose for which portfolios
are used in the teacher educators' assessment model.
Using Portfolio Assessment Results. Portfolio
assessment can provide a wealth of assessment
information. How this information is used to improve
teaching and learning is of paramount importance. First and foremost,
pre-service teachers should benefit from the assessment results
beyond possible grades that might be assigned by teacher educators.
Pre-service teachers must be encouraged to view portfolio assessment
results in light of their experiences in the preservice education
program and their future experiences in the classroom. Thus the
results should inform the preservice teachers of their strengths and weaknesses
in regards to their potential as classroom teachers.
Secondly, teacher educators should also use the
portfolio assessment information to inform
themselves about the qualities and effectiveness of
the preservice education program and its impact on the learning of preservice
teachers. Portfolio assessment information should be used to improve
teaching in the preservice education program and the relationship
between academic components and internship components of the
program. In general, the use of portfolio assessment information should
be aligned with the role of portfolios in the preservice education
program, the individual teacher educator's assessment model, and
teacher education professional standards.
Key Ideas for Portfolio Assessment
How to I get started? This is always a common
question when one wants to try something new
for the first time. There are several key ideas for getting
started and for continuing productively with portfolio assessment.
Start slow. In an instant, teacher educators and
preservice teachers can be overwhelmed by the
quantity of information that can be collected for portfolio
assessment. When instructing preservice teachers about the content
selection, teacher educators should be very clear about what is and
is not to be submitted in the portfolio. Initially, the portfolio should
be designed to contain few items (less than 10). This helps the teacher
educator as well as the preservice teachers to get off to a slow,
Collect with purpose. Teacher educators should
provide the preservice teachers with very
clear objectives regarding the role of the portfolio in
the total assessment process. In addition, teacher educators should allow
some decision-making on the part of the preservice teachers in regards
to the content and purpose of the portfolios. Allow
variation. In some instances, the teacher educator might require all
preservice teachers to submit similar items. On the other hand, the items
might vary according to various needs and characteristics of the preservice
teachers. By allowing variation, the teacher educator can obtain
individualized assessment information and record ideas for future portfolio
Incorporate portfolios into existing assessment
model. The best way to begin to use portfolio
assessment is to simply incorporate it into an already
existing assessment model. This kind of situation provides opportunity
for comparison of assessment techniques and support for trying
a new technique of assessment.
This article provided a paradigm for portfolios
as tools for assessment in teacher education.
Teacher educators have a unique opportunity to advance
assessment reform by exemplifying portfolio assessment models (and
other models) in preservice education programs. More importantly, teacher
educators can use portfolios to collect more detailed and in-depth
assessment information than that provided by most traditional forms
AND BLOGSPOTS: AN ALTERNATIVE FORMAT FOR ENCOURAGING REFLECTIVE PRACTICE AMONG
Summer2003, Vol. 123 Issue 4, p789, 9p
This paper examines the use of weblogs as a web-based journaling tool. Blogger,
the most widely used journaling weblog, appears to encourage reflective practice
due to its innovative and user-friendly structure.
As this is a relatively new form of web-assisted writing, the context in
which Blogger evolved is an important component of this paper, as is a
theoretical framework in which it must be set. A preservice student-user
survey was applied to determine efficacy and user orientation
requirements. An assessment of Blogger by both students and instructors
suggests its potential as a unique mechanism that can be used to enhance
the development of student reflectivity.
In our effort to meet the requirements of departmental initiatives to
increase the reflective practice of preservice teachers, we explored
several types of student journaling. Traditional journaling activities
used by teacher education faculty have included the use of supplemental
workbooks, hard-copy journals or diaries, and written philosophy
statements. While each option gave insight into the process of
preservice schema-building, outcomes were considered to be inadequate.
Students wrote sparse, descriptive summaries with few examples of
heightened levels of awareness and little indication that these
practices promoted a continuing routine of reflective practice.
Additional problems included the legibility of handwritten documents,
instructor response time, record-keeping concerns, and the
transportation of over ninety written student journals. An informal
faculty assessment indicated that we needed to explore what the
literature says about journaling, and to experiment with other forms of
A review of the literature on reflective activities indicated that preservice
students' awareness of the complexity of the teaching and learning continuum was
enhanced by journaling, but that little indication of deeper, personal actions
and processes was demonstrated. Zeichner and Liston (1996) placed great
importance in these missing pieces. They related that a reflective teacher:
-examines, frames and attempts to solve the dilemmas of classroom practice;
-is aware of and questions the assumptions and values he or she brings to the
-is attentive to the institutional and cultural contexts in which he or she
-takes part in curriculum development and is involved in school change efforts,
-takes responsibility for his or her own professional development. (p. 6)
Mindful of these characteristics, we recognized that at the very least a more
concerted, consistent effort needed to be applied to achieve these outcomes. To
those ends, we explored other options. These included the introduction of more
structured journal focus questions; increasing levels of teacher-mediation in
student journals; focused workbook activities (textbook supplements); online
discussion groups; and online journals.
As the former options had already been tried with limited success we decided to
consider an instructional technology based journaling option. Given our
experience with prior coursework utilizing an online bulletin board format, we
explored the advantages of experimenting with an online journal. It was our
opinion that online journaling offered the following options: a state-of-the art
format that may increase student enthusiasm in journal writing; an increase in
both the quality and quantity of student output; an increased potential for
teacher-mediated input; and the potential for future extensions to include the
addition of links to illustrative websites and other options offered by
After some exploration, an innovative, no-cost online weblog service called
Blogger was selected. This paper describes the background and approach used in
this initiative, a student evaluation of Blogger, an assessment of student
outcomes, and suggestions on how these experiences may benefit students and
The Reflective Teacher Model
In 1995 the Department of Education at the University of Southern
Indiana initiated a new undergraduate model for teacher preparation. This
model was used to satisfy the standards promulgated by the Interstate New
Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC). The department's Reflective
Teacher Model "is based upon a philosophy of active and experimental
learning, and critical inquiry into underlying issues in education and
society" (Department of Teacher Education, 1995). It was intended to
promote the use of reflective practice in all teacher preparation classes. It
emphasized the use of learning journals. The Model described the characteristics
of a reflective practitioner as those exemplified by flexibility,
purposefulness, and a self-regarding nature. Posner (1996), cited in the Model,
defined the desired reflective characteristics of preservice teachers through a
review of the origins and effects of reflective practice as discussed by Dewey
(1933) and Grant and Zeichner (1984). INTASC Standard 9 further delineates
dispositions toward reflective practice as they pertain to a reflective
practitioner who continually evaluates the effects of his/her choices and
actions on others (INTASC, 1991).
Mewborn (1999) summarized strategies on how reflective activities could best be
taught to preservice teachers. She suggested that preservice teachers need time
specifically dedicated to learning and practicing reflective skills, and an
opportunity to practice those skills in a non-evaluative atmosphere. Sileo et al
(1998) suggested common strategies that could be used to facilitate preservice
teachers' active participation in learning. The continuum of learning activities
discussed by Sileo et al included the use of learning journals and other
strategies. They also summarized the benefits, characteristics, and categories
of journal types as they may best promote reflective inquiry among preservice
teachers. Categories of journals described by Sileo et al include: diary,
notebook, dialogue, integrative entries, and evaluative entries. He suggested
that journals of these types could serve as sources of reflective dialogue
between instructor and student.
In an effort to assess the efficacy of student journals Goldsby and Cozza (1998)
and Collier (1999) promoted the use of several journal evaluation strategies
that stressed the development of assessment rubrics and questioning strategies
initiated by course instructors. The authors suggested that each strategy
requires extensive, but timely feedback loops between journal writer and course
Discovering and Using Weblogs
Mindful of this background and of the guidelines established by departmental
policy, we intended to incorporate in this study a journaling activity that
engaged preservice teachers in reflective, non-evaluative journal writing
through a combination of types of journal categories using online media.
Our effort to offer an online journal for preservice teachers came as a result
of our prior experiences with technology-based options. A word processor-based,
save-to-disk journaling activity was used by one of the investigators in a prior
semester. He found that record keeping, response times, and accounting
procedures needed some fine-tuning. The possibility of using a commercial online
journal such as Life Journal was subsequently explored. However the cost, at
$35.00 per student, was determined to be prohibitive. A suggestion made by the
departmental technology specialist offered an additional possibility. A
recommendation was made to investigate Blogger as a possible alternative to
hardcopy or save-to-disk journal entries. He related that Blogger was a
relatively new, web-based interface that seemed to mitigate or entirely
eliminate our concerns.
According to Yahoo (2001) Blogger, an abbreviated form of the word weblog
originated between 1987 and 1993 as "paragraphs with web links embedded
right in the middle of sentences."(p. 1-2) These paragraphs are designated
as blogspots after users post them on the website. The distinctive nature of
weblogs and blogspots, can be summarized in the following statement from Yahoo
People often group weblogs into the same category as online diaries or journals,
but they're missing a more sophisticated difference than a journal's lack of
copious links. The real divergence is about voice. Online journals look and read
like public diaries, while weblogs feel more like reporting. . . weblogs are
metatorial while journals are simply editorial. (p. 2)
The weblog format of embedding links is not without precedent. Embedded links
have been commonly used within text by the NY Times and the Drudge Report, and
have been seen in applications by news services and stock tracking agencies.
Udell (2001) reported that the weblog phenomenon has "emerged as a
genuinely new literary/journalistic form." (p. 2). Dugan (2000) described
the use of weblogs as a form of social and commercial commentary and defined
them as "tiny, personal projects.. .powerful and influential voices. .
.(and as) remarkably potent means of communication." (p.1)
The popularity of weblog communities has reached near cult status as new sites
(over 1000) have proliferated on the Internet. Inter@active Week (200!) reported
that weblogs have become online versions of personal journals complete with
photos, essays, and diary entries. Blog support sites offer development
share-ware to facilitate weblog entries of graphic and linked extensions. These
are referred to as blog tools.
Other Journaling Options
In the recent past, the trend towards web-based communities have promoted
bulletin boards (BBS) as discussion formats for special interest groups. College
instructors, desiring web-based LAN classroom management or discussion options,
have made use of commercial software for class discussions and informational
postings. Two forms of this service commonly used by universities are Blackboard
and Web CT.
Given differing needs, instructors (as in the case described here) are searching
for state-of-the-art alternatives. As opposed to those more traditional
campus-wide software packages, Newsweek (2001) reports that weblog services are
available from several sites on the Internet. While Blogger enjoys the largest
share of users and is the most sophisticated of options, users may choose from
at least four other weblog hosts.
Blogger ( http://www.blogger.com),
launched in 1999 by Pyra Labs, has nearly 80,000 registered users (Morris,
2001). Users are not charged a fee, but are asked to make a donation of $5.00.
Staffers say that donations will fund the purchase of additional servers to meet
the increase in demand. With demand increasing by between 400 and 500 new users
daily, servers are only one element of an expanding infrastructure. Brown
reported that weblog hosts like Blogger, offer a totally new and different form
of on-line expression (Brown, 1999). For instructors looking for sophisticated
on-line journaling options, Blogger was touted as enhancing potential learning
outcomes by offering advanced forms of web-enabled expression. To further
advance this opportunity, ancillary user-tools include plug-ins for web-enabled
phones and wireless devices, free discussion group software, and wire service
search software. Blogger released additional tools that included spell checking
and posting by e-mail options in late 2001.
Blogger does not guarantee privacy. Users may elect to keep entries from being
seen by other users; however as a user's blogspot ultimately becomes a website,
the website can potentially be viewed by any Internet user. It is important to
note that the chances of locating one blogspot site on the web among multiple
millions of others are very low.
Using and Assessing Blogger
Blogger was incorporated into the syllabi of two undergraduate preservice
courses: two sections of EDUC 302- Multicultural Education, and EDUC 214 -
Technology in Education. The differences in these two courses, we thought, would
reveal different characteristics about student use of Blogger. We anticipated
that EDUC 214, given an emphasis on technology in education, would elicit
student responses that considered the practical use of Blogger as a classroom
tool. Whereas in EDUC 302 we anticipated that students would respond in a manner
that would illustrate how students perceive Blogger's facilitation of journaling
from a more personal, student-oriented perspective.
A procedural handout on how to set up Blogger accounts was given to students in
both EDUC 214 and EDUC 302 and was reviewed in class by the instructors. The
setup procedure was reviewed for clarity with the entire class and students were
assigned the task of building a blogspot (a journal entry site). The instructors
were available for consultation and troubleshooting via email. In subsequent
class meetings procedural issues were reiterated and students needing more
individualized assistance met with an instructor at a computer lab to complete
the assignments. Upon registering a site, students emailed the instructor the
address of their blogspots.
Participants in EDUC 302 were told that the course requirements included the
completion of reflective journals using Blogger or an alternative. Alternatives
were offered to students due to concerns about privacy and hardware
accessibility. Four students in EDUC 305 choose to use alternatives. Two chose
this route because of privacy concerns, and two due to a lack of confidence in
their computer skills. Students were also informed that they would have an
opportunity to assess the use of Blogger at the end of the semester.
For students in EDUC 302 - Multicultural Education, journal entries, in the form
of blogspots were to be completed as reaction statements to course readings,
activities, discussions, instructor and student presentations, and guest
speakers. Students were informed that their entries would be evaluated on the
basis of their attempt to write dialogue that indicated thoughtful consideration
of how course content was received. Students were expected to write a statement
after each class meeting.
At the end of the semester students in both sections of EDUC 302 and in the
single section of EDUC 214 were asked to evaluate their use of Blogger in terms
of relative satisfaction, ease of use, suggested changes, and future
applications (including those opting for alternative journaling forms).
Two different assessment surveys were used. Students in Multicultural Education
(EDUC 302; n=48) responded to seven questions survey questions regarding their
use of Blogger. Responses were elicited in an item checklist. Students in
Technology in Education (EDUC 214; n=15) were asked to respond to survey asking
for more in-depth responses. Open-ended questions used in both EDUC 302 and EDUC
214 elicited more qualitative responses to student satisfaction with Blogger.
Results from the two sections of EDUC 302 were combined and are displayed in
Table 1. Students responded to questions regarding relative ease of use, time
required learning Blogger, a self-assessment of their computer skills, a rating
of overall satisfaction, and recommendations about future use.
Additionally, two of the seven questions were open-ended. The first asked EDUC
302 students to list any specific problems encountered while learning to use
Blogger. The second question listed possible preferred alternatives to Blogger
as a medium for journal entries. Responses to the first question included
difficulties posting journal entries, lost entries, lack of time to make
entries, lack of motivation to write journal entries, and privacy issues. The
second question elicited alternatives that included traditional journal-writing
and save-to-disk procedures.
Students in EDUC 214, given the course's emphasis on technology, revealed more
detail about the use and efficacy of Blogger as an educational tool. Student
statements suggested their thinking about how Blogger facilitated reflective
responses. When asked to describe what they liked about creating blogspots,
replies included the following examples:
to look back and see what we did on certain days.
liked the fact that we could bring technology into journal writing.
liked being able to see my progress.
liked reflecting on the class and letting my instructor know how I felt.
way to keep track of what went on each day.
asked to describe the relative ease of using Blogger, student responses from
both classes were predominantly positive. However when asked if they would use
Blogger in their own teaching, 12 of 15 students said that they would not or
that they were unsure.
Quality of Reflection
The instructor reviewed student journal entries in both sections of EDUC 302 for
content and depth of reflection. Subjective comparisons were made to student
journal entries of the prior semester. While no rubric was used, students had
been informed that a review of their writing would include an assessment of the
degree to which they used higher level thinking skills. They were informed that
descriptive entries would be judged to be inadequate.
Student entries on B logger were determined to be more analytic and evaluative
than those of the prior semester. Entries were longer and written in ways that
indicated that students were considering the bases and motivations behind their
beliefs rather than merely describing them. While a determination of changes in
student reflectivity was not the sole intent of this study, it is our belief
that the depth and breadth of student reflectivity appeared to be positively
affected by their use of Blogger.
Students in both classes reported that they generally found the format of
Blogger easy to set up and easy to use. It should be noted that the courses
selected to participate in this study, EDUC 214 and EDUC 302, both required a
moderate level of prerequisite computer skills. This was especially so in EDUC
214- Technology in Education. Students in this course responded positively when
asked about ease of use. Students in EDUC 214 also indicated a relatively high
level of appreciation for the application of Blogger as a learning tool. In a
different setting, students in EDUC 302 - Multicultural Education, were asked to
prepare entries on course content, and at times did not respond favorably to the
type of content they were asked to reflect upon (i.e.: race, language, culture,
sexual orientation, gender bias, etc.). It is entirely possible that this unease
was reflected in the nearly equal split (positive vs. negative; recommend vs.
not recommend) among respondents as to their relative levels of satisfaction and
recommendations for future use of Blogger.
Problems that may also contribute to student dissatisfaction with Blogger were
evident in individual correspondence and problem-solving activities between
student peers, and between the instructor and individual students. At this level
of interaction numerous difficulties in the setup process and in subsequent
applications surfaced. These included problems of greatest relevance to students
-- the loss of written material prior to posting and frustrations with
occasional technical issues (i.e.: Internet failures, Blogger service failures).
Another area of concern among students was the issue of anonymity and privacy.
Blogger guarantees privacy, as discussed above; all entries exist as virtual
websites and potentially may be read by anyone. Two students in EDUC 302 and two
students in EDUC 214 viewed the issue of privacy as a significant problem.
Options offered by Blogger in the form of opting for non-public postings of
journal entries did not adequately meet the concerns of these students. Options
offered in EDUC 302 for alternative journal formats (i.e.: save-to-disk,
hardcopy) seemed to be an acceptable alternative. However, in order to maximize
anonymity, all students were urged to make journal entries that did not indicate
a labeled or named source in their narratives. Students acknowledged that this
offered a greater sense of privacy, but the degree to which this concern
affected the loss of valuable personal entries and reflection, is as yet
Implications for Preservice Educators
Journal writing can be a difficult and painful process. Seshachari (1994) stated
that one of the main objectives of teacher-mediated journaling is to help
students overcome the fear of writing. Once the initial fear is reduced, other
objectives of subsequent importance may be achieved. These objectives include
efforts to enhance student ability to reflect critically on teaching and
learning and to promote journaling as routine reflective practice. With regard
to the application of Blogger to these objectives, several options are suggested
as outcomes of this initial assessment.
Students should have adequate opportunity to learn how to use the weblog format
of Blogger. Immediate instructor-student feedback is important in order to
eliminate student problems and circumvent frustrations. As an alternative or
supplement to instructor mediation, teams of students may be assigned the
responsibility of problem-solving the initial setup issues. Instructors should
check each student's account and evaluate relative levels of success prior to
moving on to actual journaling activities. Terminology, definitions, account
setup procedures, post and publish techniques, associated time lag issues,
editing, and other basic elements should be fully understood by students before
journaling actually begins. Several lab sessions may be incorporated into the
course schedule. Practice should be a prerequisite to subsequent work.
Privacy issues need to be fully addressed. Students should be apprised of the
lack of anonymity on B logger and of the need to use discretion in writing about
sensitive, personal subjects. Options must be made available to those students
who have particular concerns about privacy and anonymity issues.
The content of student blogspots should be designed to achieve a hierarchical
level of narrative. Bringle and Hatcher (1999) suggested that prior to
initiating any journal activity, the desired learning objectives need to be
formalized and fully articulated. Student entries should begin with descriptive
summaries of classroom activities or answers to questions and progress in
complexity towards critical narratives. A hierarchy of instructor directed
questions or activities extending beyond knowledge and comprehension entries
towards evaluative narratives, should be gradually incorporated into journaling
exercises. Incremental review of student progress is the key to recognizing
levels of student engagement, needed mediation, and subsequent problem-solving
sessions. Instructors should maintain regular and timely response cycles with
It is likewise important to allow adequate time for students to think about,
prepare, write, and respond to questions and queries from instructors, peers and
other sources that may affect, alter or stimulate their thinking. The
sense-making process, inherent in preservice experiences is inherently complex.
The unpackaging and reorganization of those experiences, and perceptions
requires a considerable investment in reflective time and energy by both
instructors and students alike. Instructor guidance and mediation throughout
this process, is critical.
Table 1 Percentage Responses: EDUC 302 - Multicultural Education, Student Survey
Ease of Use(*)
Very/Somewhat easy 71
Not very easy/difficult 25
Time to Learn(*)
Prior Computer Skills Beginner
Satisfaction with Blogger Very/Somewhat satisfied
Not very satisfied 27
Recommend for Future Use Recommend
NOTE. 2% of respondents gave No Answer in these categories (*).
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customers say?, Infoworld, 2202), 106.
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CHALLENGING TEACHER EDUCATION AS TRAINING: FOUR
Bullough Jr., Robert V. Gitlin, Andrew D.
Journal of Education for Teaching; 1994, Vol. 20 Issue 1, p67, 15p
ABSTRACT The authors examine two trends of thought central to
much of the current discussion on the reform of teacher education: (1)
Increasing the time certification students spend in schools and assessing their
performance in relation to a predetermined list of desirable teaching skills;
and (2) Developing preservice programs that require students to conform to a
model of good teaching derived from 'objective' empirical research. While these
trends differ in significant ways, the authors argue that both are inherently
conservative, supporting the long standing training orientation where the
technical aspects of teaching are separated from educational aims and purposes.
To reform teacher education, the authors argue, requires challenges to the
assumptions of training. To begin to do so, they present four propositions that
in their view will make teacher education more educative: preservice teacher
education must be joined to inservice programs; work contexts need to be
carefully studied and criticized; teacher education must clarify and critique
the personal theories perspective teachers bring with them; and reflection,
especially on the aims and purposes of education and schooling, needs to become
a central part of teacher education.
We have been educators for over 20 years: First, as teachers; later as
teacher educators. The past 13 years we have worked together in teacher
education programs at the University of Utah. During this time we have
sought to challenge traditional approaches to teacher education and
sought to develop programs and practices that maximize beginning
teachers' control over their own professional development. Given this
work, we greet with mixed emotions the current debate about educational
policy in the US (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983;
Carnegie Report, 1986; National Governor's Association, 1986; Holmes
Group, 1990). On the one hand, this increased attention holds out the
possibility for significant change in teacher education. This is so
because as educational policy is altered, inevitably, teacher education
comes under review as an avenue for implementing new policy. On the
other hand, much of the discussion has been disheartening because both
educational policy and the resulting teacher education proposals are
grounded largely in a commitment to training, which emphasizes the
technical aspects of teaching practice divorced from educational aims
and purposes. For example, in the US the influential governor's report
advises state and local authorities to 'be explicit about expected
levels of academic performance and then allow teachers, administrators
and parents to devise ways to meet these levels' (National Governor's
Association, 1986 p. 39). The implicit teacher role in this document,
and many others like it, centers on the ability of teachers to use a
variety of instructional approaches that hopefully will achieve national
standards for student performance, rather than their ability to
determine what is important to teach, or what are the appropriate aims
for education. The Holmes Group (1986) proposals for teacher education
reform echo similar assumptions and place hope for improved education on
higher academic standards for entry into teaching, codification of a
knowledge base for teachers, and a national standardized test for
licensure. In education generally, and teacher education specifically,
much of the discussion is driven by the desire to identify and test, for
the purposes of summative evaluation, highly specific learning outcomes.
These ideas are put forth as though there was no competency movement of
the 1970s (Zeichner & Liston, 1990). It is as though little was learned
from past failure.
Although some teacher education reform efforts appear to
pitfalls of training by increasing teachers' control over the profession
and giving them the authority to approve teacher education programs
(Grimmett, 1991), trainers seem to be winning the debate. In the face of
this very real possibility, teachers, often having little or no
influence over public policy, are likely to do what they have often
done: isolate themselves from the controversy and try to gain a measure
of satisfaction from their relationships with students while hoping for
better times. The problem is that this response only weakens what
already is a divided and isolated community of educators and teacher
educators and forces the expenditure of a tremendous amount of energy to
maintain the appearance of compliance to accreditation standards. Two
alternatives present themselves: conformity, or more active
participation in the discourse about teacher education in the hope of
influencing that discourse. We chose the later and believe the place to
begin is by examining the assumptions underlying reform that are linked
to training. Articulating these assumptions is an important first step
toward generating alternative visions of teacher education, ones that
escape the pitfalls of training and are genuinely educative.
Accordingly, the purpose of this article is two-fold: First,
our journey as teacher educators that has lead to a set of propositions
that we use to guide our work in program development and teacher
education reform. Second, to invite teacher educators to critically
consider these propositions in relationship to the assumptions
underpinning their own thinking and programs.
The paper is divided into three sections. The first section
two prominent and apparently contradictory approaches to teacher
education reform, those that are competency-based and those which are
empirically research-based often espouse the assumptions of training,
which are fundamentally conservative.The second section chronicles our
work as teacher educators to show how our practice has led to an
alternative view of reform grounded in four propositions which we
believe challenge training. The third section provides a brief rationale
for, and discussion of, the four propositions.
WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE TRAINING BUSINESS?
It is not surprising that the phrase, 'teacher training' flows so easily
from the lips of teacher educators as we describe our work. Training has
long been our 'business'. But, what may seem surprising is that when
calls for reform in teacher education are the loudest, both currently
and historically, the strongest voices appear to belong to champions of
training. We need to carefully consider the assumptions underlying this
tradition, which have proven so seductive and powerful, and the way
these assumptions influence practice.
In the main, current proposals for reform seem to fall into
clusterings, but each are grounded in training views of teacher
education. The first cluster emphasizes the development of competencies
(we prefer to use the term competency to remind ourselves of the past)
and certification linked to the demonstration of a predetermined set of
discrete skills, and to extensive field work. Examples abound: in the US
the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education, for
example, is busily producing long lists of outcomes with the expectation
that they will serve as standards for judging institutions for
accreditation (NASDTE, 1991). State legislatures are also getting
involved. Texas, for example, has placed an 18 credit hour cap on
teacher education, including fieldwork, and New Jersey has placed a 30
hour limit (Olsen, 1991). England is much further down this road than is
the US. There and in Wales, the Council for the Accreditation of Teacher
Education (CATE) is directly involved in content decisions and already
teacher education institutions have been forced to accommodate to these
standards (Barton et al., 1992). CATE represents a dramatic devaluing of
university work, of conceptual work, and instead emphasizes extensive
field work, an apprenticeship, as the most appropriate avenue for
learning to teach (Barton et al., 1992). The aim is for 80% of the
novice's time to be spent in the field. It is noteworthy that even
teachers are beginning to raise serious questions about this move and
increasingly see value in university courses (Gilroy, 1992). A similar
trend is evident in the US where internships are much in vogue (Zumwalt,
1991) even in Holmes Group institutions (Yinger & Hendricks, 1990) and
alternative certification that side-steps colleges of education is
sweeping the country.
At a glance, the second cluster appears fundamentally
different from the
first. With some variations, the emphasis is to reform teacher education
by linking it to research and the work done in research universities.
Based on an empirical-analytic model of inquiry, researchers seek to
develop a 'deductive system of propositions or scientific laws, which
[can] be used to predict and control teaching and learning' (Diamond,
1991, p. 9). The challenge for reformers is to develop programs that
assure beginning teacher conformity to the model of good teaching
supported by the deductive system. To assure conformity, teacher
trainers typically engage in an analytic move, where teaching practices
deemed desirable are reduced to lists of discrete behaviors, stated in
the form of behavioral or performance objectives, and then practiced by
the novice until an externally established standard is met. Supported by
the research community, this standard becomes the basis for national
teacher certification. It is not without irony that we note the strong
support that National Board Certification has received in the US by the
largest teachers' union, the National Education Association, in its
quest to elevate teaching to a profession along the lines of law and
medicine (Weiss, 1993) and seemingly unaware of the dangers of such a
move (Gottleib & Cornbleth, 1989).
The clusters differ in many ways, and a good many battles have
place between their champions particularly over determining what,
precisely, beginning teachers ought to know and be able to do. However,
what binds them together is of greater importance than what separates
them. What binds them are these shared assumptions: that learning to
teach is primarily a matter of skill mastery, and skills are
identifiable in advance by experts and context independent; that
teaching is telling or 'delivering' content (Stones, 1992, chap. 1);
that learning is behavioral change; that beginning teachers are
knowledge consumers and not producers; that differences in biography or
even culture are important in learning to teach only in so far as they
enable or inhibit skill acquisition; and that standardized content and
criteria are essential to assure program quality and accountability.
Speaking generally, these assumptions are fundamentally conservative,
emphasizing fitting into current institutional patterns and practices
rather than thinking about and criticizing them. Conformity is valued
according to standards established outside of the teachers' experience,
whose energy, and intelligence is directed toward thinking about the
means, not the aims of education. One implication of this emphasis is
that the political and moral consequence of teachers' practices tend to
be overlooked. A second implication is that beginning teacher biases, in
general, are ignored or go unexplored. This stance is especially
troubling when viewed in the light of the dramatic failure of schools to
serve minorities, whose culture and whose experience of schooling often
differ in dramatic ways from those of dominant cultural groups.
One surface difference between the two groups of proposals that results
in a remarkable similarity, needs further attention. The first cluster
privileges private or personal theory over public theory (Griffiths &
Tann, 1992), denying the latter value as a means for making sense out of
the experience of teaching and for framing and responding to pedagogical
problems. Yet, the private theory privileged is not the beginning
teacher's but the practicing or cooperating teacher's. The second
cluster privileges public theories, those produced by researchers in the
quest for deductive systems. Again, the beginning teacher's theories are
ignored, or deemed illegitimate or irrelevant to learning to teach.
Although the assumptions differ, the outcome is likely to be the same
for beginning teachers: their experience is devalued, their dependence
accentuated, and public and private teaching theories separated.
Given the similar assumptions held by what appear to be
it is little wonder there has been a lot of noise and comparatively
little fundamental change in teacher education. Now, in frustration,
government leaders who are dominated by business interests and
distrustful of teachers and of those who teach them, have entered the
debate over teacher education with a vengeance. Ignorant of the past and
at home with the assumptions of training, they appear intent on
compelling reform, at least their version of it. Recognizing the
fractious relationship of schools and universities, apprenticeship
models have been embraced that dramatically weaken the position of
universities and colleges in teacher education. At the same time they
have drawn upon the expert role of researchers in education to generate
and justify standards of performance and to create systems for
accountability and control that narrowly define what it means to teach.
The assumptions of training are seductive and powerful. They also make
fundamental reform unlikely, perhaps impossible. Their seductiveness is
partially the result of their pervasiveness; they are part and parcel of
the history and language of teacher education and of how we frame and
address problems. We have found that the only way to challenge them is
to constantly scrutinize our practice for their influence. What follows
is a brief recounting of our struggle to free ourselves from training
assumptions and to place teacher development within an educational
framework. As will be seen, our success escaping the influence of
training has been limited.
STARTING THE JOURNEY
When we first began working together the secondary teacher
program at the University of Utah was disjointed, fragmented and
confusing. Training was the program's aim: Based on a delivery
conception of teaching, emphasis was placed on learning and practicing
discrete skills, and programmatically public and private theories were
clearly separated. Methods courses were disconnected from curriculum
courses; and both were disconnected from practice teaching. Similarly,
foundations courses, and their concern for the aims of education, were
unrelated to methods courses, and their emphasis on means. Moreover,
students were strangers to one another, and dropped in and out of the
program at their convenience. Who these people were as people was of no
particular importance to the program or to teaching. Like the students,
professors drifted in and out of the courses, and felt little connection
Students complained loudly about content duplication and superficiality,
about the kind, quality, and quantity of field experiences offered, and,
perhaps more than anything, about not feeling cared for. No one was
responsible for individual students and for seeing that they were on
track and making reasonable progress toward certification. What mattered
was accumulating the credits needed for certification. Student
complaints were hard to ignore especially since they were frequent
enough and loud enough to convince the dean's office that something was
amiss and in need of fixing. But, what to do about them? A change in the
program would necessitate a change in faculty roles, and under the best
of circumstances this is difficult to achieve even when there is
widespread dissatisfaction. Program fragmentation plays to professors'
desires for autonomy and independence.
In response to growing dissatisfaction, the faculty began meeting to
better understand the problem in order to provide a solution. Some
faculty members understood the problem as simply a matter of providing
better articulation of methods courses with field work and of improving
the quality of student advising; no shift in orientation was required.
From this view, all that was needed was for faculty members to share
course syllabuses and come to some agreement about who would teach which
topics and for the student advising office to shape up and do a better
Others had a different view of the problem, a more structural and
philosophical view. Separate courses taught by faculty who rotated
through them and felt no ownership of them would inevitably give rise to
problems of duplication and, perhaps, of superficiality. From this
viewpoint, occasional meetings within which syllabuses were discussed
would do little to change the situation and nothing to bridge the
separation of public and private theories about teaching. When both
students and faculty drop into and out of courses it is unreasonable to
expect that caring relationships would develop, and caring
relationships, some thought, were central to effective advising and
teaching. Teaching is a relationship, a way of being with and relating
to others, and not merely an expression of having mastered a set of
delivery skills. And, advising is not just a matter of dispensing
information in a timely fashion, but of building trust, of talking and
problem solving together. Some sort of fundamental change in program
structure and orientation was needed.
Eventually, the faculty agreed to experiment with a cohort organization,
an attempt to create the 'shared ordeal' that Lortie (1975) observed was
missing in teacher education and that was seen as essential to
identifying with the profession of teaching. For a full academic year a
team of two professors, later changed to a professor and a teaching
associate because of limited resources, would be responsible for
planning, teaching, and coordinating a large portion of the
certification work of a group of 25 students. This responsibility
included general methods courses and curriculum courses which met for 6
hours a week for the first two terms, and student teaching which
included a weekly seminar. Moreover, within the cohort organization,
professors would do much of the advising that had formerly been done by
the advising office. The courses leading up to practice teaching were to
involve significant field work, and to this end the students were to be
placed in a school early in the year and continue to work within it
throughout the year. Eventually, these schools became professional
development sites (Holmes, 1990), places where practicing teachers are
specially educated to serve as mentors for student and beginning
teachers. We discuss this later.
We supported this proposal and nudged it along, although we certainly
had our doubts about the significance of the change and worried about
the amount of time that the change would demand of us. Training teachers
is less demanding than educating them. Soon, we found ourselves assigned
to our first group of students and with this assignment we faced a
daunting problem. Being responsible for such a large portion of a
program, and having students for an entire academic year, meant that we
would be teaching new courses that required of us the development of new
areas of expertise; and even when we had previously taught the content,
a different approach or organization was needed. As we discovered, our
relationships to students would also dramatically change. Despite these
fears, however, we realized that the structure would allow us to
experiment with different approaches to teacher education. For instance,
for the first time in our careers it became possible, at least in
principle, for us to introduce a theoretical concept, such as the
implicit or 'hidden curriculum', have students work with the concept in
a field site, return to campus for further exploration of the concept
and then as the students gained experience, return to it later in the
year and in different ways. We could, then, better link public and
private theories which training separates.
Critical Theory and Teacher Education
At this point it is necessary to provide some essential background.
Although attending different graduate schools, Ohio State and Wisconsin,
we were both deeply influenced by work being done in critical theory in
education, a theory that directed our attention to the relationship
between schools and the social priorities and inequalities that
characterize capitalism. We thought of public education as an extremely
important avenue for furthering social and economic justice, but
believed the institution, it's organization and traditions, stunted this
potential. We saw schools as factories, driven by class interests and
infused with the values of a technocracy, control and efficiency, the
handmaidens of training. We thought of teachers as oppressed workers,
trapped, victims of an oppressive and alienating system. Indeed, much of
our early research reflects this view (Gitlin, 1983; Bullough et al.,
Our focus, then, was solely on critique and not on relationship. We
sought to identify the ways in which schooling limited and constrained
teachers' actions and student learning, not the ways in which schools
could enable their development or the ways in which teachers could shape
the institution to achieve their purposes and build desired
relationships with students. Not: surprisingly, we often found the
beginning and practicing teachers we taught interested but largely
disconnected from our analysis of schooling. Our project, and the public
theories we presented, was not their project; being well-trained
students they mastered our discourse to give it back to us but,
apparently unaffected, left us to engage in their lives' work as though
they have never been in our classes.
Imagine yourself for a moment in our shoes, and being assigned to work
with a group of 25 pre-service teacher education students for an entire
academic year, students who genuinely wanted to become teachers. Now,
imagine having as your central professional message that schools are
lousy places to work, young people alienated, and the curriculum
fundamentally and perhaps fatally flawed! True or not, a year is a long
time to endure such fare, and perhaps even longer time to push it. What
the cohort organization did was force us to reconsider our political and
professional agendas, our theories, in relationship to our students'
theories, and their desire to become teachers and to succeed in the
short run in practice teaching and in the long run as teachers. The
question for us was (and still is): How could we develop encounters with
teacher education content and theory that would help our students
achieve their goals and simultaneously enable us to maintain our
intellectual and personal integrity? Many a long and sometimes
disheartening conversation addressed this topic.
Our dilemma was softened, a bit, by developments within critical theory
as applied to education that led to an attack on correspondence theory
(Apple, 1979). Correspondence theory, representing a rather vulgar,
deterministic Marxism, suggested that schooling merely reproduced the
inequalities of the larger society and, by implication, persons do as
contexts allow them to do; consciousness follows context as day follows
night. On this view, human agency was a delusion, a liberal's foolish
fantasy. The attack on correspondence theories brought with it a message
of hope that rang true to our experience; persons frequently resist
pressures to conform and with their resistance comes the possibility for
institutional change, and therefore hope for school reform. This turn
was reflected in our own work as we conducted studies and worked with
teachers who in various ways resisted institutional pressures to conform
and seemed to make school a better place for their students as a result
(Bullough et al., 1984; Bullough & Gitlin, 1985). We came to recognize
that resistance is often grounded in private theory, and beliefs about
self as teacher. Potentially, then, teacher education could play a part
in school transformation, and critical theory could serve as a lens for
focusing our work so long as it was seen in relation to the private
theories held by students.
Our study of the writings of Jurgen Habermas (1970,1971,1975) also
proved important to our development. We found compelling his vigorous
critique of instrumental reason, the kind of reason that reduced human
beings to numbers, the universe to a giant, grinding machine, and
education to training. But, unlike a good many critical theorists
Habermas moved beyond critique. He recognized in the innate ability and
desire of humans to relate to one another through language a means for
generating a social and political ideal worth striving for:
communication without domination. He explored the conditions needed for
communication to proceed fruitfully, and explicated some of the ways in
which communication is distorted, often intentionally for strategic
reasons as when we manipulate our friends to get our way and to set
aside their own interests. His ideal--communication without
domination--got us thinking about teaching in ways we had never thought
of before and sharpened our awareness of the negative influence of the
assumptions of training on our students' development as teachers. We
recognized that as a relationship teaching always involved unequal
distributions of power between teachers and students, but began to
explore the ways in which we might minimize domination through dialogue
(see Bullough, 1988; Gitlin, 1990). More broadly, we began to think of
learning to teach in terms of engaging our students in the critical and
communal study of their own thinking and practice and of linking this
study to public theories about institutional power and education.
Working with the cohort groups and getting to know, respect, and enjoy
our students also played an important part in nudging along our
development. For the most part, they were very able and interesting
people, adults, who brought with them a commitment to, as many of them
often have said, 'make things better'. One could not work with such
people and still hold strongly to the view that their actions were
merely reproductive of social and economic inequalities, that they were
only pawns in a cruel social charade. To incorporate our growing
appreciation of the importance of agency in institutional life
eventually we organized our practice within the cohort around the
dialectical and dynamic relationship of self and context. We focused on
self because of its connection to knowledge production, private
theories, and agency. We came to think of our students as
moral-political agents about to assume positions of power and authority.
We focused on context because critical theory had helped us understand
how contexts often direct teacher behavior in ways that not only run
counter to their intentions and aims but also discourage the
scrutinizing of institutionally accepted roles and relationships. Later,
the building of an educational community, both among teachers and in a
wider sense, assumed a central place in our thinking because of its
potential for furthering collective action as a means for challenging
As our thinking evolved, so did our practice; as our practice evolved,
so did our thanking about preservice teacher education. We encountered
many frustrations. Perhaps the most important frustration from the point
of view of altering our thinking came as a result of watching much of
our work 'wash out' during student teaching and the first year of
teaching. It appeared as though once our students became 'real'
teachers, they forgot or simply discarded much that we had 'taught' them
(Bullough, 1989). We wanted our students to become producers of
knowledge and through the process students of the politics of schooling.
We saw too little evidence to suggest that our aims were being met.
Survival and the desire to obtain a positive evaluation or to fit into a
department consumed them during practice teaching and during their first
year of teaching. Recognizing this problem as partially related to a
student teaching format that was a hold-over from our program when
training was the central aim, we changed student teaching from full to
half-time teaching so that additional time was available for reflection.
This helped, but the problem persisted. We came to realize that no
matter how hard we worked within preservice teacher education or how
many adjustments we made in practice teaching, the problem would
continue until preservice teacher education was linked to inservice
teacher education and both challenged training assumptions. Here we
encounter a serious limitation of training which permits the dropping
off of newly certified students at the school's doorstep as though the
knowledge about teaching that has been poured over their heads make them
a teacher. Our students, we realized, needed on-going support after
certification to continue their exploration of self and context,
particularly when the results of this exploration produced tension
between institutionally favored roles and relationships and personally
valued ones. Thus, our initial vision of teacher education as a group
enterprise defined by cohort membership, expanded beyond the confines of
preservice teacher education. We seek to assist in the building of a
professional community in recognition that teacher education is never
ending and that the creation of a vital community is central not only to
educational renewal but to individual teacher development. In this work,
public theory plays an important part.
Through these years of experimenting and testing our hunches
learned quite a bit about how to make teacher education, educative. We
have also benefited from the work of others who have also questioned the
value of training. John Dewey, for example, was one of the first
educators to cogently argue that teachers need to be viewed as knowing
subjects not functionaries.
The remedy (for school failure) is not to have one expert dictating
educational methods and subject-matter to a body of passive, recipient
teachers, but the adoption of intellectual initiative, discussion, and
decision throughout the entire school corps. (Dewey, 1903/1977, p. 232).
More recently, in his critique of a 'banking' view of pedagogy, Freire
(1993) challenged the assumption that teachers are empty vessels to be
produced by external experts. Instead, he suggested that the
teacher/student relationship be reconceptualized so that each become
teacher/learners. Cart & Kemmis (1986) also challenge training through
their important work with action research. Each of these researchers,
and many more, has been troubled by the influence of training in teacher
education. This body of research has profoundly influenced our thinking
about teacher education and is evident in the propositions that follow.
The propositions, when taken together, offer an alternative to training.
The first is that certification signals only the beginning of teacher
education, not its ending. Ultimately, preservice must be joined by
ongoing inservice teacher education. The second proposition is that
because work contexts either enable or limit human development, they
need to be carefully studied and criticized. The third proposition is
that our conceptions of ourselves as teachers are grounded
biographically. If teacher education is to make a difference, it must
start with biography and find ways to identify, clarify, articulate, and
critique the assumptions--the personal theories--about teaching,
learning, students, and education embedded within it. The fourth
proposition is that reflection, systematic inquiry, is a central and
crucial element in making teacher education educational. We will
consider each in turn.
It is often assumed that the university experience represents a
liberalizing influence on the thinking of teacher education students
that is crushed by the reality of school practice during student
teaching. Teacher education students become increasingly conservative;
and to many teacher educators, ourselves included, this has been cause
for lament. But, it is unlikely that with its grounding in the
assumptions of training teacher education has ever been as liberalizing
as many professors assumed or claimed. What is clear, is that the
influence of teacher education will increase when teacher education
institutions and the public schools join together collaboratively, not
merely cooperatively, and jointly seek to produce conditions within
which reflection on public and private theories about teaching, and the
aims and means of education, may become common place and where shared
action becomes the norm rather than the exception.
Much needs to be done if these two very different institutions and
cultures, the schools and universities, are to work productively
together. Resources are scarce, and becoming more so, and the potential
for exploitation is very real particularly as professors continue
seeking sites to conduct their studies and to place students but
distance themselves from the school culture. Nevertheless, through
sharing strengths and resources and openly exploring and accepting
differences there is the potential to develop institutional structures
and relationships that break the mold of the tried and true and move us
in the direction of enabling teachers to become more active participants
in the remaking of their educational world. Surely, such a project
promises significant benefits to teacher educators who honestly seek to
provide a better quality education for their students.
For this reason, among others, we have become increasingly involved over
the years in the effort to bring schools and colleges and universities
committed to teacher education together to explore ways of working to
create the conditions needed for beginning teachers to become students
of their own thinking and practice, not just student teachers. This is
fundamentally important to distinguish our work from training.
All social contexts, schools included, are defined and given their
particular character by the accepted and evolving roles, relationships,
and rules that govern interaction. There is no meaning without context,
and context shapes what is perceived as valued and valuable. In a myriad
of ways, most of which are subtle and generally taken for granted,
newcomers to teaching are told what are and are not appropriate actions
and utterances and are encouraged and enticed to comply to expectations.
Contexts press conformity on the individual who may respond in any
number of ways including strategic compliance--doing what seems
necessary (Lacey, 1977), and open resistance. Thinking about schools as
historical contexts within which meaning is made, and that privilege
some interests over others, presents a pressing challenge to teachers
and teacher educators. Part of the challenge is to provide assistance to
beginning teachers so they can examine and perhaps reconstruct
institutionally preferred roles in the quest for a place within the
school that is ethically defensible, morally and politically
responsible, and personally satisfying. Knowing about a context and how
it defines what is reasonable and possible is crucial to successful role
negotiation, as it is to changing a role when change is seen as
desirable. Another part involves assisting the beginning teacher to
understand how local context is influenced by educational policies and
practices at state and national levels which underscores the importance
of viewing teaching and learning to teach communally.
Despite the assumptions of training, in a manner perhaps unlike any
other profession, in teaching the medium is the message, and the medium
is who and what the beginning teacher is as a person. In good measure,
it is through the beginning teachers' values, beliefs, knowledge of
young people, and about content and how to teach it, that students will
either engage or disengage from learning. Who the beginning teacher is,
is important in other ways as well. It is in large part, through their
prior experience that they make sense of teaching and of their students'
backgrounds and abilities, formulate a curriculum, frame problems for
study, and ultimately negotiate a teacher role.
From our viewpoint, teacher education should start with who the
beginning teacher is, and who they imagine themselves to be as teachers,
and then assist them to engage in the active exploration of the personal
or 'implicit theories' Clark (1988) they bring to teaching. It is
through these biographically embedded private theories which generally
are taken for granted and assumed to be natural, that teachers make
sense of their teacher education programs and later the world of
teaching. Through them they either screen out, accept or adjust to what
is taught. Like other learners, beginning teachers first seek
confirmation of their values and beliefs but if they are to become
educated what is taken as normal must be challenged and tested.
Masquerading as common sense, these theories need to be made explicit if
they are to be criticized and when found wanting reconstructed. Long ago
John Dewey characterized education as a matter of 'reconstructing
experience', and this is precisely the aim of teacher education, to
assist beginners to confront and in some ways reconstruct themselves and
the contexts in which they work.
Currently much is being spoken and written about the value of reflection
in teacher education both as an aim and a means (Clift et al., 1990).
The 'good teacher', it is said, is a reflective teacher, one who
inquires into his or her thinking and practice with an eye toward making
improvements. We too stand on the side of the angels who are championing
programs that will promote the development of reflective teachers. We
also want to encourage teachers to carefully consider the consequences
of their actions in the classroom and on others' development. But too
often the calls to get teachers to engage in reflection and to study
their practice are only empty slogans. And sometimes when the meaning of
reflection is made explicit, hidden away one discovers the assumptions
Reflection involves more than getting beginning teachers to think hard
about what they are doing and whether or not a particular practice is
'working' or consistent with a list of competencies. It involves giving
careful attention to how problems are framed, and the relationship
between public and private theories. Problem framing goes directly to
the issue of what kinds of questions and issues beginning teachers
should be reflective about. In this regard, Zeichner and Liston offer
some help when they assert that teachers ought to inquire into:
(1) the pedagogical and curricular means used to attain
(2) the underlying assumptions and consequences of pedagogical
(3) the moral implications of pedagogical actions and the
structure of schooling. (1987, p. 2)
We agree, these are some of the issues that ought to be grappled with by
beginning teachers. We would add, however, that in addition to these
beginning teachers need to be involved in ongoing reflection about self
and about the context within which they are working. These ought to be
primary considerations, not merely after thoughts.
The emphasis on self and context as well as politics and ethics suggests
that the view of accountability embodied in the training orientation,
with its emphasis on technical performance and conformity to external
standards, needs to be expanded. It is critically important that
teachers should be accountable for the quality of their work, but
accountability must be tried to a significant increase in teachers'
control and responsibility over school aims as well as means.
With assistance, beginning teachers can frame problems in ways that
expose the relationships between the technical concerns of teachers and
the personal, ethical, and political dimensions of teaching which so
often are neglected. Respecting the later, beginning teachers need to
understand that all that they do and say represents their vision of the
good life, their social philosophy, and is therefore inherently
political. To be sure, teachers can be reflective about many things,
silly and serious; our wish is to encourage them to not forget that
there is more to becoming a teacher than the mastery of supposed proven
techniques. They ought to be wary of the common teacher pronouncement,
'it works', even though this is the outcome sought within apprenticeship
models of learning to teach. Many things work, but not everything that
'works' is morally or educationally defensible. Thus, we seek to
influence what is seen by our students as a problem, in part through
providing a language useful for 'naming' the world and by providing a
few means that we have found to be useful for reflecting on how contexts
both enable and limit meaning (see Bullough & Gitlin, 1993).
Such is the outcome of our journey: four propositions that we believe
challenge the assumptions of training. Ultimately teacher educators
cannot control or predict with much accuracy the outcomes of teacher
education, nor should we want to. Learning to teach is an idiosyncratic
process involving a complex interaction among persons and between person
and school context. The best that can be hoped for from teacher
education is that what is taught and how programs are organized will
influence the grounds upon which beginning teachers make their decisions
and that these decisions will be continuously examined to assure they
are morally, politically and educationally defensible.
Generating an alternative to teacher training is vitally important for
teachers and teacher educators; continuing to emphasize training is a
certain road to irrelevance. For teachers, what is at stake is the kind
of professional community they will work in. Teacher education is the
means by which that community is sustained or reconstructed. But, it is
not only the professional community that is affected by the outcome. As
fragmented at it is, the professional community has a responsibility for
building and shaping our collective social being as well. Like it or
not, as John Goodlad (1991) phrased it, teachers are 'moral stewards' of
schooling, and as such have responsibility to be engaged actively in the
'continuous renewal of the schools' for the sake of children,
themselves, and of our collective well being. As such, they are charged
with creating within schools the kind and quality of life that ought to
be lived without them, and teacher educators are obliged to share this
responsibility with them. It was for this reason that Boyd H. Bode
argued many years ago that 'educational practice which avoids social
theory is at best a trivial thing and at worst a serious obstruction to
progress' (1937,p. 74).
Standardization and the other outcomes that flow from the assumptions of
training will ultimately only produce mediocrity, which we believe is
the most likely outcome if current trends in teacher education reform,
particularly government sponsored trends, win the day. It is time to
rethink the nature of teacher education, but not as an attempt to
further refine teacher training theory and practice. To do that is to
assist in our own professional demise as well as to help assure a type
of schooling that continues to fail a good many beginning teachers and
in turn significant portions of the student population. To rethink
teacher education means putting forth for criticism and discussion
alternative assumptions, while simultaneously exposing the roots of our
practice in training, and of developing and assessing programs based
upon these assumptions. As teacher educators we need to be actively
involved in the study and criticism of our own practice. To this end we
invite criticism of the propositions presented and encourage greater
involvement in articulating positions that challenge training, not only
from academics but from those within the educational community who are
often silenced: teachers, parents, and students.
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PREPARATION: A REVISION PROCESS FOSTERED BY FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT
Woods, Amelia Mays
Clearing House; Nov/Dec97, Vol. 71 Issue 2, p113, 4p
Abstract: Provides specific formative assessment
activities suitable for mentor-preservice teacher relationship. Effective
teacher training programs that rely on formative assessment and feedback;
Assessment sources; Vehicles for formative assessment.
Are you feeling good about how things are going?" Mr. Johnson, Julie's
university supervisor, asks as they stride out of the gym.
"It's okay, I guess, but that sixth-hour class seems unmotivated and it
takes forever for us to get started," Julie sighs. "Maybe I don't have
what it takes to be a good PE teacher."
"Hey, don't get down on yourself. Be firm and be positive. Remember our
conference Monday when we talked about management? Perhaps you are still
spending too much time getting students and equipment organized. As soon
as fifth-hour students leave the gym to change, why not set up the
equipment at multiple access points, so sixth-hour students can begin as
soon as they arrive?"
"That's a good idea. There's so much to remember that I feel overwhelmed
Effective teacher education relies on such informal conversations
between preservice teachers and their mentors. Julie's reflective
self-assessment demonstrates her awareness of an instructional dilemma.
Mr. Johnson's willingness to have her identify the weakness before he
counters with recommendations exemplifies informal formative assessment.
Huberman (1983) referred to the multiple tasks simultaneously tugging at
teachers' energies as "classroom press." That steady current of
activities leaves the teacher little time to formally discuss and
reflect on each event of the school day. Thus, brief interactions
between mentors and preservice teachers provide valuable opportunities
for examining pedagogical matters.
Informal Formative Assessment
To shape reflective practitioners, mentors must prod preservice teachers
to examine their own effectiveness. Despite time limitations, many
informal and formal strategies for formative assessment do exist to aid
mentors in guiding preservice teachers.
Conversation. Impromptu feedback is nonthreatening and offers rich
mentoring opportunities. Ebbers and BrantKemezis (1992) noted that
"[t]he supervisor can avoid the stance of protecting a position of
authority by being open to the student teacher's suggestions regarding
change" (133). Interactions over coffee or between classes can provide
ongoing feedback that may have immediate classroom influences.
Interactive journals. Because interactive journaling focuses on
reflection rather than correctness of expression, it provides a
comfortable arena for communication and informal assessment. The
following excerpt from the interactive journal maintained by a student
teacher and her cooperating teacher reveals the candor made possible by
What is your perception I
need help with this. They
of the feedback the class understand.
was giving you?
Sleeping. Bored. So ... what
am I supposed to do?
You did make it
Are there any hints re:
questioning techniques in the
read it yet.
Due to the immediacy of the response in relation to the event, specifics
rather than generalities are addressed. Such informal documentation of
classroom events and student/mentor discourse gives the university
supervisor a vicarious view of the candidate's classroom experiences.
Note Taking. Another means of formative assessment is mentor note taking
during observation of instruction, with the notes later used as the
basis for a conference. This traditional, nonguided written response
also provides an on- the-scene picture of the teaching experience,
though it does not invite written response from the teacher candidate.
Formal Formative Assessment
When informal formative assessment is coupled with formal formative
assessment, mentors and teacher candidates maximize opportunities for
process-directed feedback. Formal formative assessment provides a
structured and concrete overview of the clinical experience and helps
establish future goals. Formal assessment defines specific teaching
Observational instruments. Many instruments are available to
systematically guide observations of assessors. According to Rink
(1993), "Systematic observation and analysis of instruction is a process
of collecting objective information on the instructional process and
analyzing that information in a meaningful way" (276). Varied focuses
are targeted, such as teacher movement, time management, task
presentation, and teacher feedback to students. Ideally, mentors rely on
a variety of forms during routine observational assessments.
Scheduled conferences. Formal formative conferences, which generally
address prescribed discussion topics, are intended to encourage
reflection and goal setting, provide guidance, and explore specific
concerns. The frequency of the conferences may depend on how much
informal assessment occurs. Ebbers and Brant-Kemezis (1992) asserted
that "[t]he most productive conference is problem-centered, rather than
personality-centered" (133). In order for the teacher candidate to know
the mentor's perspective in situations where informal assessment is
limited, frequent scheduled conferences are essential. Steven, a
preservice teacher in middle school English, for example, has a
scheduled conference with his cooperating teacher each Friday after
lunch. One Friday, he enters just as Ms. Shaefer is reviewing her notes:
"Hi, Steve. I was impressed with your use of creative dramatics to help
the students understand 'The Monkey's Paw.' Last Friday one of the goals
we set was for you to plan ways to engage the nonreaders. I'd say you
have done a terrific job, with the game you developed on Monday, mock
interviews with the authors on Wednesday, and today's creative
"Actually it's more fun for me this way, too. I seem to be the only one
paying attention when I lecture, so that seems counterproductive."
"I'm anxious to see what you have planned for next week to bring the
literature to life. Do you have your lesson plans?"
By starting the conference with a reference to previous formative
feedback and the progress she has witnessed, Ms. Shaefer establishes the
day's meeting as one element in a continuum.
Periodic written evaluations. Mentors write periodic evaluations that
address facets of the candidate's professional performance, including
behavior management, planning, rapport with other staff and students,
and promptness in returning student work. Formal written formative
evaluations at midterm and at semester's end give candidates assessments
of their professional strengths versus their shortcomings; such
assessments are vital for preservice teachers who may misread their
Janet is teaching biology one morning a week to fulfill pre-clinical
experience requirements for a Methods of Teaching Science course. For
five weeks her peer mentor has suggested that she divide the class into
small groups to work on daily assignments so that those who understand
can aid those who are struggling. At the midterm, when the peer mentor
fills out a formative assessment form, he is critical not only of her
teacher-centered approach to instruction but also of her disregard for
his repeated suggestion. For the first time, Janet recognizes that he
was not simply offering friendly advice but was pressing her to
reexamine the effectiveness of her teaching style.
Reference letters. At the close of the preservice professional
experience, mentors often compose reference letters describing the
qualities that the candidate offers potential employers. Those letters,
too, serve as formative assessments in that they acknowledge the need
for continued mentoring in specific areas. The following excerpt from a
letter written by an area supervisor demonstrates the potential for
formative reference writing:
Jim has demonstrated mastery of basic academic skills, determination,
personal growth, and concern for students. Those areas where additional
mentoring would be beneficial are in applying varied teaching
strategies, striving for clarity in assignments, and refining closure of
Such recommendations aimed at administrators or department chairpersons
identify the need for continued guidance, particularly in the first
years of teaching.
Formal formative assessment is more decisive than informal assessment in
examining professional growth. Mentors clarify general areas where
mastery is evolving and where improvement is needed.
Feedback from varied assessors provides teacher candidates with insights
regarding their developing skills as educators. Relying on trial and
error and personal judgment is inadequate because the candidate immersed
in learning activities cannot be cognizant of all the dynamics of the
Self. Certainly most significant is the self-assessment that is ongoing
as candidates set instructional goals, integrate content knowledge with
teaching skills, and reflect on their classroom experiences. As novices
develop a sense of personal teaching efficacy (i.e., beliefs regarding
their effectiveness as teachers), introspection is vital. A teacher's
sense of efficacy governs his or her motivation, thought processes, and
willingness to expend energy, and it undergirds the teacher education
process. Lortie (1975) observed that teachers hesitate to adopt new
procedures unless they feel sure they can make them work. Reflection is
integral as novice teachers develop confidence in their personal
teaching efficacy while learning new procedures.
Peers. Peer feedback during preservice teaching experiences offers
reciprocal benefits as candidates engage in conversations about teaching
practices. Responses from peer coaches are less threatening than
evaluations of more experienced mentors. Kurth's model of peer coaching
(1994) applied with inservice teachers encourages collegial interaction.
That nonjudgmental approach is founded on the premise that "changing
teaching behavior is a function of social interaction" (5) and also
pertains to preservice teacher education.
Mike, a teacher candidate in health, is paired with Lisa, a candidate in
business. After two observations of Mike's class, Lisa asks, "Is there
any way that you can get the students to initiate more of the
discussion? In our methods class we learned that retention is greater if
learners spend more time engaged in talk on the subject."
"We discussed for nearly forty minutes," Mike counters.
"That's not what I mean. Only five or six students spoke and they simply
answered your questions like it was an oral quiz or something. I just
wonder if there is a way to have them ask the questions of each other."
Though Lisa offers no solution, she invites Mike to reflect on other
possibilities for drawing students into the discourse. Together they can
explore strategies for increased student participation that can apply to
her business classes as well.
Professional mentors. University supervisors, classroom teachers, and
principals commonly use formative assessment in mentoring teacher
candidates. Their professional experiences allow them to identify with
problems novice teachers face and to pose potential solutions.
Students. Feedback from students is typically candid and often the kind
of formative assessment most valued by teacher candidates. Gusky (1986)
held that changes in the attitudes and beliefs of student teachers are
likely to occur only after the student teachers have had a chance to
practice strategies with a class and witness the results. Zellermayer's
(1991) study of practicing teachers revealed that inservice experiences
can effect change when "doing comes before reflection." Thus the
students' responses can serve as the teachers' scaffold for
restructuring knowledge. Kelly, a teacher candidate, arranges for her
American history students to take rubbings of tombstones at a local
cemetery. The students then trace the histories of the family names they
have discovered and prepare a history booklet about the county. Because
the students are so excited about the project that even their parents
become involved, Kelly resolves that she will use this project in her
Vehicles for Formative Assessment
Because of the ongoing public performance required of teacher
candidates, documentation of the process is limited to
audio/videotaping, portfolios, and journals. The advantage of that form
of assessment is that the assessor can stop, look back over earlier
portions of the document, and then move on.
Audio/Videotaping. Audio/videotapes document the teaching process and
provide a context for self-assessment and reflection. Mentors can view
classroom activities offsite and offer feedback or invite the preservice
teacher to join in viewing the lesson and discussing options. Roe and
Ross (1994) suggested that teacher candidates use videotapes while
microteaching to "become aware of [their] voice control (audibility,
pitch, expression), speech patterns (overuse of certain terms, such as
'okay?'), use of praise and positive reinforcement, and clarity of
directions" (255). Nonverbal communication can also be examined.
Portfolios. A collection of written and visual documents that reflect
teaching performance may be gathered in a portfolio. Pictures,
audio/videotapes, resumes, goal statements and philosophies, lesson
plans, writing samples, student papers with teacher comments, and
classroom materials can reveal the varied dimensions of the teaching
candidate. Portfolios "give teachers a way to work on and document not
just the outcome of their efforts but also their reflection, improvement
and growing expertise" (Anson 1994, 191). Whether the portfolio is
electronic or in the form of hard copy, it represents the preservice
teacher's growing professionalism.
Journal. Maintaining a professional journal documents the events,
thoughts, and feelings occurring during teaching experiences.
Christenbury (1994) advised preservice teachers to make a habit of
journal writing, suggesting that "a journal is a good place for [them]
to consider issues about [themselves, their] ideas and why and how
[they] are making [the] journey of being and becoming a teacher" (xi).
Exchanging journals with peers or sharing them with professional mentors
gives the student teacher additional insights into his or her personal
teaching efficacy and invites reflective formative feedback.
Informal and formal formative assessment are foundational throughout the
teacher education process. Preservice teachers self assess, solicit
feedback from peers, and turn to professional mentors for guidance. The
mentoring of teachers extends beyond university courses and clinical
experiences as teachers become lifelong learners in their own
Anson, C. M. 1994. Portfolios for teachers: Writing our way to
reflective practice. In New directions in portfolio assessment:
Reflective practice, critical theory, and large-scale scoring, edited by
L. Black, D. A. Daiker, J. Sommers, and G. Stygall. Portsmouth, N.H.:
Christenbury, L. 1994. Making the journey : Being and becoming a teacher
of English language arts. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann.
Ebbers, F., and A. Brant-Kemezis. 1992. Supervisor/student teacher
manual. Rocky River, Ohio: The Center for Learning.
Gusky, T. R. 1986 Staff development and the process of change.
Educational Researcher 15(5): 5-12.
Huberman, A.M. 1983. Recipes for busy kitchens. Knowledge: Creation,
diffusion, utilization 4:478-510.
Kurth, R. J. 1994. Using faculty peers to improve instruction in
diversified college classrooms. Paper presented at the annual meeting of
the American Education Research Association. New Orleans, La. (April).
Lortie, D.C. 1975. Schoolteacher: A sociological study. Chicago, Ill.:
University of Chicago.
Rink, J. E. 1993. Teaching physical education for learning. St. Louis,
Roe, B. D., and E. P. Ross. 1994. Student teaching and field experiences
handbook. 3rd ed. New York: Merrill.
Zellermayer, M. 1991. How teachers restructured their professional
knowledge: A triangulated analysis. Paper presented at the Annual
Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, Ill.
ASSESSING PRESERVICE TEACHERS:
DEVELOPING AND IMPLEMENTING A MODEL
Kennedy, Helen L. Contemporary Education; 2000,
Vol. 71 Issue 2, p42, 9p,
Abstract: Develops a model for assessing
preservice teachers. Use
of frequency measures and ANOVA; Interrater scoring reliability;
Intellectual criteria in the selection of teacher educational
assessment; Influence of high intelligence; Appropriateness, validity
and cost-effectiveness of the process; Comparison on leadership,
sensitivity and innovativeness.
A Model for Assessing Preservice Teachers
Since post World War II, intellectual criteria (grade-point-average and
test scores) have been utilized pervasively in the selection of teacher
educational assessment of students despite the fact that they are
generally poor predictors of who will become successful teachers in the
classroom. Even in teacher education programs, impressive personal,
interpersonal, and leadership qualities are often ignored in identifying
and preparing academically talented students for teaching. The demands
of classroom teaching require bright, emotionally stable individuals who
have good interpersonal and communication skills. When high achieving
minority and non-minority students describe their most highly respected
and memorable teachers, they mention those with strong interpersonal and
social abilities because these qualities create a character that
utilizes the attributes of integrity and trustworthiness (Johnson
Prom-Johnson, 1986). These same characteristics also are highly valued
by school administrators when they hire teachers (Clark & Fischetti,
1987). Unfortunately, most teacher education programs either ignore or
pay lip service to the affective dimensions of teaching, including
communication and interpersonal skills, when identifying and preparing
prospective teachers at the preservice level (Goodlad, 1990; Haberman,
High intelligence is intuitively essential when we think about good
teaching. Tests of academic competence and grade-point-average are
generally inadequate predictors of success in teaching (Haberman, 1987;
Shechtman Godfried, 1993). Intelligent and academically talented student
teachers must also be able to relate effectively to their students.
While interpersonal and verbal communication skills alone will not
insure a teacher's success, lack of these skills typically insures
failure, regardless of how bright the teacher is in the content area
(Shechtman, 1989). Therefore, it is critical that teacher credentialing
programs consider a potential teacher's affective skills, as well as
their intellectual capacities.
To address the assessment of the teachers affective skills in tandem
with the cognitive abilities, the School of Education and Human
Development (SOEHD) at California State University, Fresno (CSU, Fresno)
realized the process would need to be appropriate, valid, and
cost-effective. Researchers using psychological tests to measure the
affective characteristics of teaching applicants report mixed findings
(e. g., Chang, 1994; Henjum, 1983; Shechtman, 1989; Verdini, 1990). With
recent interest in individual interviews, several researchers have
presented evidence that rating on interviews can be good predictors of
future teaching success (Coleman, 1987; Haberman, 1987; Malvern, 1991),
while other studies raise serious questions about their predictive
validity. Furthermore, individual interviews require a tremendous time
commitment. In consideration of these limitations, three models were
considered for use by the faculty of the SOEHD: (a) Shechtman's Group
Assessment, (b) Huberman's Urban Teacher Selection Interview, and (c)
Millward's Pre Teacher Assessment Center.
Shechtman's Group Assessment consists of a 90-minute procedure involving
two assessors and eight students seeking admission to teacher education.
During the 90 minutes, students introduce themselves and are encouraged
to talk freely, giving the impression of who they are to the group. The
next activity is the introduction of a controversial topic followed by a
leaderless group activity that involves problem solving. After these
activities, each group member provides feedback to others in the group.
Lastly, members are asked if they feel they have accurately reflected
who they are during the course of the group's interactions. As the
activities occur, assessors judge each individual on her/his own verbal
communication ability, interpersonal skills, and leadership. The
candidates are assigned an overall rating that portrays the candidate's
general fitness for teaching. Shechtman's studies in Israel (1989,1992a,
1992b) indicate that the overall score obtained by a student
participating in the Group assessment is similar to evaluations obtained
after long-term acquaintance and has a better predictive validity of
future teaching performance than GPA or tests of intellectual ability.
Byrnes (1998) also demonstrated that the Group Assessment process works
well with novice interviewers and provides an effective means by which
qualified members of diverse populations can be selected into teacher
In Huberman's Urban Teacher Selection Interview (UTSI), students are
differentiated on becoming successful teachers or not successful
teachers after receiving the same training. The UTSI has generated
national attention as a possible key to the solution of poorly staffed
schools, especially in urban areas (e. g., Houston and Milwaukee have
used this assessment model). The seven mid-range functions (Haberman,
1987) that appear in the UTSI reflect Haberman's research since 1958 on
the qualities of teachers identified by school personnel as excellent to
those considered failures. In interviews, persistence is identified by
two questions that look for tenacity, commitment and perception of a
teacher's daily job. Response to authority determines one's willingness
to support student learning in the face of or even against school
policy. The third criterion, application of generalizations, assesses
the degree to which the respondent can deal with universal statements
about human behavior. Approach to at-risk students seeks to discover
whether the candidate understands that a teacher's professional
responsibility is to constantly find effective curricula and methods
regardless of the problems faced by at-risk children. The fifth
function, person vs. professional orientation to teaching, provides
insight into the candidate's expectation of pupils and their need for
support from students. Burnout represents the enormous physical and
emotional drain teachers encounter. The last mid-range function,
fallibility, assesses candidates' abilities to accept themselves and
others. The UTSI has been successfully used in CSU, Fresno's Internship
Program, however, a recent study questions its validity of effective
teaching (Baskin, Ross Smith, 1999).
Developed by Millward (1991) and chosen by the SOEHD at CSU, Fresno, the
assessment center model has been shown to be useful in diagnosing
teacher potential and in guiding program development in teacher
education by providing assessment results on various dimensions
identified as critical to teaching effectiveness. The assessment center
model is a tool for assessing a range of affective and cognitive
qualities of teacher education students. The twelve dimensions assessed
at the center are also incorporated into the teacher education program
so that candidates skills in all dimensions can be strengthened by the
time students are certified or credentialed. This diagnostic feature of
Millward's model and its suitability for informing and guiding teacher
preparation is what distinguishes it from Shechtman's and Huberman's and
makes it more consistent with the developmental vision of teacher
education at the program's School of Education (Ullrich Kennedy, 1999).
The Pre Teacher Assessment Center (PTAC) at CSU, Fresno, assessed
strengths and weaknesses of prospective teachers across the 12 skill
dimensions considered critical for effective teaching (Millward, 1991).
Planning and Organizing is establishing a course of action for self or
others to achieve a specific goal. Planning appropriate time, resources,
setting and sequence of activities for task accomplishment.
Monitoring is establishing procedure to monitor classroom activities and
Leadership is setting high standards, communicating a clear philosophy
about learning, challenging students, reflecting on teaching.
Sensitivity is showing consideration for feelings and needs of others in
verbal and nonverbal situations.
Problem Analysis is identifying issues or problems, securing relevant
information; identifying causes of problems; relating, comparing, or
quantifying data from various sources.
Strategic Decision Making is developing alternative courses of action,
making decisions, and setting goals when time for deliberation is
Tactical Decision Making is making appropriate decisions in ongoing
situations where time for deliberation is limited and extensive
information gathering may be inappropriate.
Oral Communication is expressing ideas with clarity, style, appropriate
volume and rate of speech, and appropriate grammar for classroom use.
Oral Presentation is presenting ideas in an organized manner with an
opening and a closing, while using persuasiveness, enthusiasm, and eye
Written Communication is expressing ideas clearly in writing (includes
grammar, context, syntax).
Innovativeness is generating or recognizing and adopting new or creative
instructional-+(-approaches, techniques, and materials.
Tolerance for Stress is performing with stability under pressure or
opposition; ability to maintain attention on multiple tasks or
Since the assessments at the PTAC were diagnostic and completed early in
the teacher preparation program, the intent was not to discourage
students from teaching, but to enhance their teacher preparation.
The procedure for assessment at the PTAC would eventually include four
simulations: (a) Teaching Vignettes, (b) School Museum, (c) Education
Fair, and (d) Ideas for Developing a Teaching Unit. Professionally
designed and validated, these simulations were intended to be completed
by teacher candidates before they began their professional coursework.
Brief descriptions of the four simulations are described below.
Teaching Vignettes. During this one-hour simulation, students viewed a
series of classroom episodes on a videotape. At selected intervals, the
tape stopped, and questions such as: If you were the teacher, how would
you handle the situation? or, What would you do now? appeared on the
screen. Prospective teachers responded to these episodes in writing. In
this exercise, the assessment was intended to determine whether or not
teacher candidates can monitor classroom events, identify problems,
analyze sensitive and insensitive behavior, make decisions, and
communicate effectively in writing.
The School Museum. This two-hour exercise involved events related to a
boring set of educational exhibits hidden away on the second floor of a
community's museum. The superintendent and school board were justifiably
concerned about continuing to support this school museum financially.
The simulation contained letters from concerned citizens, letters from
school personnel, budget information, maps, charts, and graphs. After
studying the problem, the prospective teacher wrote a report and then
presented his/her findings and recommendations for increasing the
educational value of the school museum. The presentation was videotaped.
In this exercise, the model was intended to determine whether or not the
teacher can prepare a 15-minute oral presentation, make decisions
regarding important educational matters, analyze budgets as well as
other district/community data, and develop an innovative plan for
improving the school museum.
Education Fair. This exercise focused on a variety of problems
encountered in organizing a district-wide education fair. Once again,
the student candidate analyzed charts, budgets, letters, graphs, and
reports concerning this long-running fair. Prospective teachers had two
hours to compile a written report of their recommendations for
increasing student/faculty participation and the educational value of
the education fair. This simulation intended to determine if teacher
candidates can plan and organize a district education fair; make long
range educational decisions affecting students, faulty, parents and
community members; create innovative plans; analyze and solve problems;
and communicate effectively in writing.
Ideas for Developing a Teaching Unit. Prospective teachers were given a
packet of information on a selected topic. Within a two hour time frame,
they were required to develop a 15-minute presentation of their ideas on
how this topic could be taught as a teaching unit, as well as on how
innovative strategies could be incorporated within that unit. This
presentation was videotaped. In this exercise, the model was intended to
determine whether or not a teacher candidate can organize and plan an
innovative unit overview and 15-minute presentation, incorporate
leadership attributes into this presentation, tolerate stress, and use
effective oral communication and presentation skills.
When each simulation was completed by the teacher candidate, their
written product and/or videotaped presentation was scored by public
school teachers, administrators, and university faculty who have
received assessor training at the PTAC. At the conclusion of the
process, teacher candidates were provided with a substantive narrative
report that presents their scores for each skill assessed at the Center.
A face-to-face meeting with a qualified assessor was also part of the
diagnostic process to assist the teacher candidate in comprehending the
compiled results about their potential teaching skills.
For the academic year 1998-99, the SOEHD at CSU, Fresno began
implementation of the Pre Teacher Assessment Center model. The initial
research questions were: (a) Would the PTAC scores be reliable across
raters? (b) How well would a representative sample of the teacher
education students at CSU/Fresno perform on the nine dimensions measured
in two of the simulations? (c) How well would the CSU/Fresno sample
compare to teacher education students at another university on the
dimensions of leadership, sensitivity, and innovativeness? (d) Were
there differences in the CSU/Fresno sample s groups on any of the nine
With these questions in mind, two preteacher assessment simulations,
Education Fair and Ideas for Developing a Teaching Unit, were chosen for
implementation during the first phase. Each assessment was an in-depth
simulation and together provided a diagnostic profile of nine of the 12
basic skills critical for effective teaching as defined by Millward
(1991). The initial process required establishing a pool of reliable
assessors and a representative student population of the teacher
education programs at the program s School of Education.
Assessor training workshops were conducted on the assessment model
simulations of Education Fair and Ideas for Developing a Teaching Unit.
The workshops trained 32 assessors (20 from Fresno Unified School
District and 12 faculty members from the program SOEHD). The final pool
of assessors represented 17 teachers from a public school district and
12 university faculty. These assessors observed, recorded, and scored
the two simulations for the initial sample population.
The pilot population (N = 51) was given the simulations from Education
Fair and Ideas of Developing a Teaching Unit in the 1999 Spring
Semester. This sample included 29 females and 23 males. All were
post-bachelorette/bachelor with 60 of the population between the ages of
24 and 41. These student volunteers at CSU, Fresno, were from one of the
following populations that represented various facets of the SOEHD's
teacher education programs: 12 were enrolled in the introductory course
to the teacher education programs; 13 were beginning their multiple
subject credentialing program (elementary); 16 were beginning their
single subject credentialing (middle and high school); and 8 were
enrolled in the Internship Program. All subjects completed the
simulations titled Education Fair and Ideas for Developing a Teaching
Unit. A substantive diagnostic report was developed and returned to each
of the students who participated in the first phase. Follow-up
discussions of the scoring narrative occurred with students who desired
Currently, the PTAC has begun setting up a database to collect both
short and long term data on the interrater reliability, pre- and
post-measures of how well its students performed on the simulation
exercises, how particular diversity variables (e.g., gender,
race/ethnicity, language, and experiential background) correlate to
capacities in particular dimensions, and the concurrent predictive
validity of the PTAC assessments. The basic analysis process utilized
statistical procedures of frequency, correlation, analysis of variance
(ANOVA), and comparison of means.
Reliability Across Raters
The two simulations, Education Fair and Ideas of Developing a Teaching
Unit, allowed assessors to evaluate teacher candidates on 9 of the 12
dimensions. The assessor forms contained statements to evaluate
behaviors within the various dimensions measured by the simulations.
Assessors used a nominal scale to determine if the candidate s behavior
was clearly not adequate (-), was adequate (/), or was more than
adequate (+). These responses are compiled by the assessor into a
composite score for the dimension using the following defined Likert
scale: 1 is much less than acceptable, 2 is less than acceptable, 3 is
acceptable, 4 is more than acceptable, and 5 is much more than
The Education Fair simulation had assessors evaluate teacher candidates
on Planning and Organizing, Leadership, Sensitivity, Strategic Decision
Making, Written Communication, and Innovativeness. Using a 1-way ANOVA,
that allowed the raters scores to be used as means, the assessors scores
were analyzed for differences. The scores did not differentiate by more
than one increment and the result was that there was no difference
between any of the assessors on any of the dimensions measured by
The dimensions evaluated by Ideas of Developing a Teaching Unit were
Planning and Organizing, Leadership, Oral Communication, Oral
Presentation, Innovativeness, and Tolerance for Stress. Analysis for
interrater reliability was done using a 1-way ANOVA as previously
described for the Education Fair simulation. The scores for Ideas of
Developing a Teaching Unit did not differentiate by more than one
increment. This result indicates that there was no difference between
any of the assessors on any of the dimensions measured by Ideas of
Developing a Teaching Unit.
Performance on Nine Dimensions
Data from the two simulations assisted in answering the research
question How well would a representative sample of teacher education
students at CSU/Fresno perform on the nine dimensions measured in two of
the simulations? Findings regarding performance on the nine are
summarized in Table 1. The teacher education students did not score at
or above the more than acceptable level on any of the nine dimensions.
Sensitivity was the only dimension where the CSU/Fresno sample's mean
was below the acceptable level.
Comparison on Leadership, Sensitivity, and Innovativeness
The CSU, Fresno sample was compared to a population (Millward, 1998) on
the dimensions of leadership, sensitivity, and innovativeness (Figure
1). The comparison population was assessed at the beginning of their
university experience and at the start of a four-year teacher
preparation program. On average, their scores fell between the range of
2.0 and 3.1 on the dimensions. The means for the comparison population
for specific dimensions were as follows: Leadership was 2.3,
Innovativeness was 2.0, and Sensitivity was 2.7. On all three
dimensions, the CSU/Fresno sample's means were higher. The closest means
for the compared sample and population were on the dimension of
Exploring for Differences Between Groups
Data from the PTAC simulations of Education Fair and Ideas for
Developing a Teaching Unit assisted in answering Were there differences
in the CSU/Fresno sample's groups on any of the nine dimensions?
Findings regarding effects of teacher education program groups on the
scores received on the nine dimensions resulted in two significant
findings (Table 2). The teacher education program groups had significant
differences on the dimensions of Strategic Decision Making and Written
Communication. A post-hoc analysis (Table 2) showed significant
differences of teacher education programs and Strategic Decision Making
occurring between Groups 1 and 2, Groups 1 and 4, and Groups 3 and 4. In
the post-hoc analysis of teacher education programs and Written
Communication, the significant difference occurred between Groups 3 and
Discussion and Conclusion
Frequency measures and ANOVA were used to determine interrater
reliability of the assessors on each simulation. Frequency measures
provide a portrait of how well the CSU/Fresno teacher education students
scored on the nine dimensions assessed in the two simulations piloted.
The same methods were used to compare the CSU/Fresno sample with those
at another institution which has institutionalized the PTAC.
Correlational analysis was used to determine the relationship between
diversity variables and particular dimensions assessed at the PTAC.
Finally, teacher education program groups were compared using ANOVA over
the nine dimensions.
The interrater scoring reliability for the assessors was significant on
all nine dimensions of teaching, which were assessed by the two
simulations. There is no significant difference between the interrater
means on any of the nine dimensions assessed by the two simulations.
These results established the assessor pool of 29 evaluators for the
The CSU/Fresno teacher education students scored in the average range on
a majority of the nine dimensions assessed by the two simulations. On
the dimension of sensitivity, they scored below average indicating a
lack of consideration for feelings and needs of others in verbal and
nonverbal situations. This finding implies that the assessed population
was unable to model sensitive behavior related to gender, ethnicity,
ability, curiosity, handicapping conditions, and concerns of
individuals. In general, this population was unaware of their
interactions with others. A possible explanation for this below average
performance in sensitivity may be a result of poor observation skills on
the part of the preservice teacher. During the course of the PTAC
activities, poor observation skills imply that the teacher education
students failed to react and observe the situations correctly for
synthesization of information. This resulted in the inability to
adequately solve the problem on the dimension of sensitivity.
Utilizing Education Fair and Ideas of Developing a Teaching Unit, the
PTAC chose three specific teaching dimensions (leadership, sensitivity,
and innovativeness) to compare its population with another teacher
education population. The major difference between the two populations
was that the comparison population was assessed at the beginning of
their university experience, while the CSU/Fresno sample was measured
after attaining a bachelorette degree. Both populations were assessed at
the beginning of a teacher preparation program. For the California
group, the three dimensions were among the lowest performing areas. On
the dimensions of leadership and innovativeness, the CSU/Fresno sample
outranked the comparison population by at least one complete Liken
level. When the dimension of sensitivity was compared, the two
populations were nearly equal (within 0.1 of each other). These findings
have been brought to the attention of the PTAC's school of Education
faculty to be addressed in the near future in the teacher education
Another preliminary analysis explored was comparing the various teacher
education programs (multiple subject, single subject, preliminary, and
Internship) at the SOEHD. Using ANOVA, the only dimensions to
demonstrate differences were strategic decision making and written
communication. For the dimension of Strategic Decision Making, Multiple
Subject candidates and Interns scored higher than did Single Subject
candidates and preliminary teacher education students. In the analysis
of Written communication, Interns scored higher than preliminary teacher
education students. On both dimensions, the under-performing population
was the preliminary group indicating to the PTAC that the teacher
education programs need to begin incorporating activities that will
allow students to improve their teaching skills.
Implications for Further Research
Based upon these preliminary findings and those from another institution
(Millward, 1998), the preteacher assessment concept is a better
alternative to measuring an individual's potential teaching skills than
more conventional paper and-pencil tests and interview protocols that
attempt to measure teaching potential. The preteacher assessment will
provide diagnostic information to the prospective teachers regarding
their potential teaching strengths and weaknesses across 12 behavior
dimensions. Once students are assessed at the PTAC, a number of options
for skill improvement can be prescribed, including specifically designed
training modules (videotapes and self-instructional materials) and/or
The next phase of development for the CSU/Fresno PTAC is to implement
the simulations of Teaching Vignettes and The School Museum beginning
Spring Semester 2000 and post assessment procedures for Fall Semester
2000. Concurrent validity could be determined by comparing PTAC scores
with evaluations from practicum supervisors who have no knowledge of
their students' scores on the PTAC. Predictive validity could be
determined by comparing the scores of students at the PTAC with student
teaching scores one semester later and beginning teaching scores during
school induction. Over the next few years, PTAC assessment simulations
should include not only the skills needed for classroom teaching, but
also a more concentrated emphasis on content- and pedagogical knowledge
related to one's major area.
Table 1 Central Tendency and Dispersion of CSU, Fresno, Sample on Nine
Mean Sandard Deviation
Planning and Organizing
Strategic Decision Making
Tolerance for Stress
Table 2. Effects of Teacher Education Program Group on PTAC's Nine
Legend for Chart:
A - Variable
B - Program Group[b]
C - Mean by Group
D - Significance Level
E - Probability of Significant Effects of Program Group: 1
F - Probability of Significant Effects of Program Group: 2
G - Probability of Significant Effects of Program Group: 3
H - Probability of Significant Effects of Program Group: 4
C D E
F G H
Planning 1 3.467 0.394
No Significant Differences
and 2 3.500
Organizing 3 3.687
Leadership 1 3.281 0.241
No Significant Differences
Sensitivity 1 2.906 0.589 --
Strategic 1 3.562 0.003[*] NA
Decision 2 2.969
Making 3 3.562
0.177 0.771[*] NA
Written 1 3.937 0.011
Communi- 2 3.344
cation 3 4.187
-0.250 -0.844 NA
0.005 -.896[*] NA
Oral 1 3.937
0.057 No Significant Differences
Communi- 2 3.656
cation 3 4.437
Oral 1 3.125
0.114 No Significant Differences
Presen- 2 3.469
tation 3 3.812
Innovative- 1 3.406 0.194 No
ness 2 3.156
Tolerance 1 3.594 0.091
No Significant Differences
for Stress 2 3.875
a p < 0.05 Level of Significance
b 1 = Multiple Subject; 2 = Single Subject; 3 = Internship; 4 =
GRAPH: Figure. Mean assessment scores for CSU, Fresno sample and
comparison population in the dimensions of leadership, innovativeness,
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Portfolios in Undergraduate Special Education Teacher Education Programs
Preventing School Failure; Spring2003, Vol. 47 Issue 3, p106, 6p, 2bw
ABSTRACT. This article highlights current thinking and practice
regarding the use of student portfolios in undergraduate special
education teacher education programs. Portfolios allow preservice
teachers to document their performance of authentic tasks associated
with the teaching role. The author describes several ways special
education teacher education programs can use portfolios for student and
program assessment. The article includes suggestions for overcoming the
subjectivity associated with portfolio entries and their evaluation and
touches on their use in alternative teacher certification.
Susan, an elementary education major with a special education
endorsement, taught several lessons, developed interactive bulletin
boards, and catalogued useful educational Web sites during her junior
field experience. Brandi, an adaptive physical education major, attended
several state education conferences, coached for Special Olympics, and
conducted research with her professor during her senior year. Marshall,
a senior special education major, participated in several parent-teacher
conferences and conducted formal and informal assessments with children
with mild disabilities. These students--and thousands of other education
majors just like them enrolled in undergraduate teacher education
programs--have valuable artifacts that portray a picture of who they are
as both learners and teachers that can be included in their teaching
portfolio. This article offers a general discussion of ways that
undergraduate special education teacher education programs are using
portfolios and some advantages, cautions, and recommendations regarding
The Origins and Advantages of Portfolios
A portfolio can be described as a purposeful collection of work that
shows a student's effort, progress, and achievement in one or more areas
(Paulson, Paulson, & Meyer, 1991). The use of portfolios in teacher
education programs reflects the recent shift in thinking about
assessment practices in higher education from relying almost totally on
test scores to using performance-based methods to document student
learning outcomes. This trend is part of the ongoing effort of teacher
education programs to assure that competencies are met and that programs
reflect current developments in the field (Dill, Massy, Williams, &
Cook, 1996). These outcomes are especially critical because many teacher
education programs have failed to document that their preservice
educators are effective teachers at the time of their graduation (Good,
1996). No longer are grade transcripts, scores on national exams, and
diplomas considered adequate for assuring that new teachers have the
knowledge, skills, and leadership to prepare today's youth (Wiedmer,
Using portfolios as one of several methods to prepare and evaluate
preservice teachers, however, is relatively new (Barton & Collins,
1993). Calfee (1994) notes that their use in teacher education programs
can be traced back to the mid 1980s when various educational reform
movements required children to document their learning through work
samples. This accountability movement in elementary and secondary
education sparked public awareness, legislative mandates, and ideas from
various task forces. Recommendations and reports from such groups
directly affected teacher education programs with their requirement for
greater accountability in undergraduate programs (El-Khawas, 1987).
Consequently, many teacher education programs were required to adopt
performance-based measures of undergraduate outcomes (Dill et al.,
1996). Portfolios became a choice because they provide a highly
effective way to gather and report information about student progress
(Cizek, 1998). They are becoming perhaps the most effective tool in
improving the instruction of both new and seasoned teachers, providing a
supportive, convincing method of evaluation (Zubizarreta, 1994).
Use of portfolios in teacher preparation programs has expanded
dramatically in the last decade. In contrast to the 75 institutions
thought to be using portfolios in 1991, as many as 400 colleges and
universities were using or experimenting with portfolios by the mid
1990s (Zubizarreta, 1994). In the area of special education, Majsterek,
Prigge, and Fennerty (1994) found that approximately one-third of 178
CEC (Council for Exceptional Children) approved special education
programs in their study were involved in, or moving toward, use of
portfolios as an end-of-major assessment component. Similar findings
were reported by Conderman, Katsiyannis, and Franks (2001) who noted
that numerous institutions in their sample of 58 nationwide
undergraduate special education programs used portfolios as part of a
program entrance or exit requirement. Portfolios have been used to
prepare special educators in early childhood education and special
education (McCollum & Stayton, 1996); as well as teachers of students
with behavior disorders (Bacon & Bloom, 1995); learning disabilities
(Doyle, 1996); and severe disabilities (Rainworth, 1996).
The popularity of portfolios in teacher education programs is no doubt
tied to their many advantages. It is believed that portfolios provide a
more accurate picture of preservice teachers' abilities and potential
for success in actual teaching situations than traditional paper and
pencil tests (Danielson, 1996); they provide opportunities to view a
teacher's work in context; and they place the teacher in the role of
self-evaluator, documenter, and planner (Bloom & Bacon, 1995).
Portfolios in teacher education programs also (a) can be used to view
learning and development longitudinally; (b) allow for assessment of
multiple components of the curriculum; (c) provide an excellent
opportunity for faculty exchange and dialogue regarding curriculum and
grading practices during the portfolio evaluation process; (d) provide
feedback for the individual student, the program, or the institution;
(e) allow greater faculty control over interpretation and use of
results; and (f) reflect student ability to perform tasks associated
with the work setting (Prus & Johnson, 1996).
Bloom and Bacon (1995) further assert that portfolios can also provide a
basis for ongoing or formative evaluation, so that students are able to
obtain feedback and improve their skills throughout their college
program. Portfolio projects allow for greater flexibility than just test
scores. Students can use them to showcase work during a job application
or promotion process, and they also encourage self-reflection and
self-evaluation. Further, some areas associated with the teacher
education program, such as service to the profession, parent
involvement, assessment skills, written communication skills, and
professional development are more appropriately addressed in a portfolio
than through other assessment methods (Wheeler, 1994).
A critical and unique characteristic of a portfolio is reflection.
Portfolios encourage students to reflect on what went well and what
could have been improved after any major work. Traditional assessments,
such as tests or many course projects, often do not allow for such
reflection, as the teacher grades the test or project using the
established grading system, and the students move on to the next
assignment. Knowledge gleaned from reflection goes a long way toward
ensuring improvement in upcoming work, especially where similar skills
are required. Therefore, students' reflections about their own work and
that of their peers should become a significant part of the portfolio
process. The portfolio is the only instrument that concurrently improves
instruction through the process of reflective writing and self-scrutiny
and evaluates performance within a framework of narration and evidence
(Zubizarreta, 1994). Various forms, such as those displayed in Figures 1
and 2, can be developed for preservice teachers to record and file their
reflections, or students can write a paragraph for various entries
describing their learning process (Weber, 1999).
Requiring students to reflect upon their submissions using these sheets,
however, does not guarantee that students will improve in their
reflection skills. Merely providing information to students about
reflection is insufficient (Dieker & Monda-Amaya, 1997). Fallen and
Watts (2001) note that throughout their portfolio implementation
process, they used a structure as well as specific performance
indicators for the reflection standard to assist the students in being
objective while focusing their thoughts.
Using Portfolios in Teacher Education Programs
I will focus on three common uses of portfolios in undergraduate special
education teacher education programs: (a) to encourage and document
individual student learning and growth, (b) to assess program goals and
objectives, and (c) to justify course credit or advancement in teacher
First, portfolios are used to encourage and document student growth
throughout the educational program. Viewed in this way, the emphasis is
on the process of formative, or ongoing evaluation, individual
reflection, and self-assessment over time. This type of portfolio is
frequently referred to as a "learning portfolio" (Wolf & Dietz,
This type of portfolio requires that at the beginning of their program
students receive instruction in portfolio development and
self-reflection. They will need periodic opportunities to update their
portfolios, note personal growth, and share their accomplishments and
insights with others. Students must include entries that lend themselves
to personal analysis and reflection. Written papers describing one's
philosophy of education; descriptions of lesson deliveries, lesson
plans, and personal learning goals; and teaching evaluations or
observations from supervisors or cooperating teachers, for example,
would lend themselves to such reflection. When students use portfolios
primarily for the purpose of self-reflection, artifacts or portfolio
entries may correspond with established program goals, student-developed
goals, or a combination.
Kenney, Hammitte, Rakestraw, and LaMontague (2000) describe the use of
portfolios for the purposes of developing reflective practitioners and
meeting specific professional standards. These authors describe a model
including four checkpoints, designed around course groupings by
semester, so that students and faculty obtain a clear picture of
students' progress. Each checkpoint requires completing specific
assignments related to coursework and practicum experiences. Some of the
portfolio entries in these four checkpoints include completing various
case studies, developing a philosophy of teaching, evaluating the
professional and ethical practices within their practicum site, and
developing and evaluating their classroom management practices. The last
checkpoint occurs during prestudent teaching and requires a refinement
of all previously learned skills and the redesign of the portfolio to
reflect professional knowledge and skills for use in the job interview.
White, Davis, Metcalf, and Williams (2000) describe a process in which
freshmen receive an assignment sheet indicating the minimum pieces of
evidence that are required at the completion of their program and the
courses associated with them. For example, from their inclusion class,
students could include a modified general education lesson plan; from
their philosophy of education course, students could include their
philosophy of education paper; and from student teaching, students would
provide evidence of an individualized education plan (IEP) they helped
create. Students collect various artifacts as they continue through
their program. Each piece is evaluated by the course instructor with P =
portfolio ready, E = emerging, and R = revision needed before being
placed into the portfolio.
Snyder, Elliott, Bhavnagri, and Boyer (1993) also describe the use of
student portfolios primarily for self-assessment. In their model,
preservice teachers provide concrete evidence of the following:
• Knowledge of academic content and a variety of teaching methods
• Ability to organize and implement effective instructional programs
• Ability to demonstrate appropriate classroom management techniques
• Skill in stimulating creative and critical thinking
• Knowledge of human growth and development
• Commitment to students and their learning
• Effective use of listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills
• Behaving in an ethical, reflective, and professional manner
• Understanding the importance of multicultural perspectives
• Applying appropriate assessment, evaluation, and testing procedures.
teams, consisting of a representative from the university and
a representative from the schools, evaluate these portfolios using
A second use of portfolios in teacher education programs is to provide
feedback regarding the teacher preparation program itself. Viewed in
this way, the emphasis is placed on the products in the portfolio
(rather than the process) and whether students collectively (rather than
individually) meet the goals, objectives, and standards of the teacher
education program. Wolf (1990) notes that program outcomes must
correspond with the institutional, departmental, and program missions,
be derived from faculty input, and meet the requisites for the state,
the accreditation group, and the professional organizations.
Consequently, when used for this purpose, student portfolios necessarily
include artifacts directly corresponding with established program,
university, state, or accreditation goals. In this case, the goals and
standards obviously must be communicated clearly by faculty to students,
so there exists a clear understanding and agreement on the importance
and the embodiment of the goals.
Conderman and Stephens (2001) describe using this process with senior
education majors. During their capstone student teaching seminar,
students develop a portfolio that includes entries corresponding with
the 10 state teaching standards. During the seminar, the students learn
the 10 teaching standards, brainstorm possible entries for each
standard, and share their progress toward their portfolio. They share
their portfolios in small groups during the last class session.
Following their presentation, the students receive verbal and written
feedback from their peers regarding the appropriateness of the entries
and their connection to each teaching standard. Because their portfolios
parallel state teaching standards, many students present them during
their initial job interview.
Campbell, Cignetti, Melenyzer, Nettles, and Wyman (1997) describe a
structured portfolio process for teachers in training structured around
the 10 INTASC (Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium)
standards. Each artifact is a piece of evidence that a specific INTASC
competency has been met. Rather than just a collection of "stuff,"
authors note, this portfolio provides tangible evidence of the
knowledge, skills, and dispositions possessed by the growing
professional. For example, for standard 6, (communication skills),
students may include essays or research papers they have written, and
for Standard 10 (partnerships), students may include documentation of
their volunteer work. The INTASC-based portfolio is useful because these
standards are applicable for teachers of all disciplines and levels,
pre-K through grade 12. Further, researchers recommend that educators
base the organization and content of their professional portfolios on
the INTASC standards (Wiedmer, 1998).
A third use of portfolios in teacher education programs is to document
and validate knowledge, skills, or dispositions to justify course credit
or advancement in the teacher education or certification program. This
is sometimes referred to as the "credential portfolio" (Zeichner &
2001). Feistritzer (1998) reported that 41 states and the District of
Columbia have over 117 alternative programs available for individuals
with college degrees who want to teach. As of 1997, more than 75,000
individuals had received certification through state-run programs, and
thousands more had participated in higher education-based alternative
programs. In 39 states a number of alternatives, such as portfolio
documentation of experiences and achievements, are being used for
teacher certification in an attempt to respond to teacher shortages in
areas such as math, science, and special education (Buck, Polloway, &
Robb, 1995). These alternatives are becoming more attractive because of
the rising costs of education, withering financial assistance programs,
longer teacher education programs, various admission standards, and new
certification testing measures (Smith-Davis & Billingsley, 1993). When
portfolios are used to justify course credit or certification, those who
evaluate them should remember that clear objectives guide teachers as
they develop their portfolios, that multiple entries that support each
objective aid in portfolio reliability, and that supplemental artifacts
such as audio or video pieces provide additional evidence of
In Wisconsin, special education teachers were allowed to document
mastery of certain certification competencies through a portfolio
process that was part of Project Select, a statewide effort to increase
the number of certified special education teachers. The portfolio
process allowed specified competencies and traditional coursework to be
waived upon documentation of prior experiences, coursework, inservice
sessions, seminars, workshops, and knowledge. A portfolio guide was
developed to assist teachers and reviewers, including step-by-step
instructions on preparing and documenting portfolio entries.
Participants typically submitted multiple examples of assessments,
reports, reflections on lessons, or lesson plans; documentation of their
ability to synthesize learning experiences; and letters of support from
administrators or others. Portfolios were evaluated by a team consisting
of at least two or three members (Conderman, Stephens, & Hazelkorn,
1999). Similarly, Indiana is in the process of developing performance
assessments designed to measure the degree to which teachers completing
the intern process possess specific knowledge, skills, and dispositions.
If the assessments are satisfactorily completed, the intern will be
granted a proficient practitioner license (Dudzinski, Roszmann-Millican,
& Shank, 2000). Experienced teachers in Colorado construct portfolios to
become eligible for bonuses or advanced certification. They can earn
national recognition by submitting a portfolio for the National Board
for Professional Teaching Standards. Soon, Colorado will require all
educators, including administrators, to develop portfolios to renew
their professional licenses (Wolf, 1996).
Challenges and Recommendations With Portfolio Use
Despite the demonstrated usefulness of portfolios in teacher education
programs, portfolios have some shortcomings. First, few examples of
portfolio assessments exist in teacher education programs, and only
minimal research evidence of their value is currently available. There
is very little empirical data about the effects and effectiveness of
portfolio use and their technical adequacy (Rivera, 1994). Similarly,
research on portfolios lacks specifics regarding appropriate methods of
both examining the portfolio and interacting with the student (Bird,
1990). Bloom and Bacon (1995) agree that evaluating portfolios is more
subjective than grading pencil-and-paper tests because portfolios
themselves are so subjective and some competency areas such as
professional growth are more difficult to evaluate than others. And the
portfolio process is more labor intensive for faculty members than
traditional exams. Prus and Johnson (1996) note that portfolios are
costly in evaluator time and effort, that they do not lend themselves
easily to development of reliable and valid grading criteria, and that
questions sometimes arise regarding whether or not submitted samples are
the students' own work. Wheeler (1994) emphasizes that the compilation
of the portfolio itself can affect the scoring process, as some teachers
know how to market themselves much better than others. In high-stakes
situations, portfolio items may reflect not what the teacher does, but
what the teacher says he or she does.
In Figure 3 I outline some of the specific suggestions researchers offer
to guard against some of these and other concerns about portfolio use.
Having multiple raters evaluate artifacts, providing training for
evaluators, cross-validating artifacts with other student work samples,
and so forth, increase the reliability of performance-based assessments.
Associating the portfolio with a course requirement and requiring the
reflective component may increase the likelihood that artifacts are
authentic. Designing rubrics, handbooks, and other specific evaluative
criteria may reduce grading subjectivity.
Portfolios are flexible and satisfy a variety of purposes in teacher
education. They can present a vigorous and factual profile of a
teacher's effort (Zubizarreta, 1994). Shortcomings of portfolios must be
considered, of course, so that the quality and integrity of the teacher
education program are not compromised. Portfolios offer viable
opportunities for education majors like Susan, Brandi, and Marshall to
document their personal and professional growth, showcase their
experiences and accomplishments, and make explicit connections to
established teacher education goals and standards.
PHOTO (BLACK & WHITE): FIGURE 1. Reflection sheet.
PHOTO (BLACK & WHITE): FIGURE 2. Sample portfolio caption.
FIGURE 3. Recommendations for using portfolios in higher education.
Prus and Johnson (1996)
• Have portfolios submitted as part of a course requirement such as a
capstone course at the conclusion of a program
• Include multiple raters for each portfolio
• Provide training for raters
• Cross validate portfolio artifacts with other student work samples
Bloom and Bacon (1995)
• Involve students in the evaluation process
• Develop a handbook regarding the students' responsibilities and
provide examples of past products
• Link novice students with mentors
• Allow individualization of portfolios
• Define specific criteria that constitute excellence
• Use multiple assessment measures to guard against the limitations of
just one assessment measure
Fallen & Watts (2001)
• Offer instruction and a structure for reflection
• Consider using rubrics to assess competencies associated with portfolio
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alternative perspective on the preparation of teachers of students with
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Examining the quality of the
evidence in preservice teacher portfolios.
Educational Administration Abstracts; Jan2004, Vol. 39 Issue
1, p82, 2/5p
Abstract: In this study, the authors examine the quality of
the evidence represented in preservice teacher portfolios and the
inferences drawn from them. Questions of purpose and representation of teaching
in the portfolios are also addressed. The study is based on three teacher
education programs in which students develop portfolios in preparation for
initial licensure. Program guidelines, portfolios, and other assessment
materials were analyzed. Interviews were conducted with students and faculty
members; focus groups with students and surveys were also used for this study.
What emerges is a pressing concern among teacher educators to rally evidence
that the students are "meeting the standards" without much opportunity
for meaningful dialogue and debate about education, teaching, and learning. In
constructing portfolios, students use evidence and artifacts interchangeably to
mean something tangible used to display a particular teaching activity, belief,
or skill, and their notions of explanation and reflection are quite problematic