How can I improve my practice as a teacher in the area of assessment through the use of portfolios?
This dissertation addresses an area of personal and professional concern where my values were being denied in my practice (Whitehead, 1993). In educational terms, I had been paying too much attention to a small portion of the abilities of my students, the quantitative and verbal skills, and I had overlooked their capacities in other areas. I had been using an academic method of testing to assess the learning of my students and through my study of the theory of Multiple Intelligences (Gardner, 1983) I became worried about the inadequacies of such an academic method. This dissertation not only explores issues relating to assessment but it also traces the development in my own thinking in the course of the research.
I developed a new method of assessment using portfolios. The word assessment comes from the Latin word “assidere” meaning “to sit beside”. Such a meaning suggests a sharing of experience which to me is exactly what portfolios can offer - to sit beside a student and share in their experiences, in the story of their learning, in their attempts at improvement, in their accomplishments as they also set possible goals for the future.
Kingore (1993) defines portfolios as:
systematic collections of student work selected to provide information about
students’ attitudes and motivation, level of development and growth over time. (p. 2)
I aim to realise this theory in my practice.
The methodology of action research encouraged me to ask questions about my own practice and to work out the answers for myself. It allowed me to conduct my study within a framework that was compatible with my own professional integrity and valuessystem. It was important to me that my students and their parents, and teaching colleagues be collaborative participants in my research and that I would be at its centre. I believe I can claim that my research has led to increased knowledge for myself and my students and to an improvement in the quality of education in my classroom. I hope I have shown how I learned about my values and practice, revised my concerns, responded to students’ personal and social needs and came to understand my own educational development.
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JEAN MCNIFF'S (2010) ACTION RESEARCH FOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: CONCISE ADVICE FOR NEW (AND EXPERIENCED) ACTION RESEARCHERS. DORSET, SEPTEMBER BOOKS. PLEASE GO TO WWW.SEPTEMBER-BOOKS.COM FOR FURTHER INFORMATION.
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