Using Portfolios for Effective Learning

June 6, 2011

Lately the topic of asset-based or value based evaluation has come up in conversations with colleagues. People want to know how to do it and how to maintain academic rigour and standards when incorporating strength-based evaluation. Here’s a brief on how I incorporated both the philosophy and practice of asset-based evaluation into one of my courses — and how you can, too.

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Related post: Student portfolios for Language Learning: What They Are and How to Use Them

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Free webinar – New Trends in Education: Formal, Non-formal and Informal Learning – Implications for Evaluation and Assessment

May 27, 2011

** This event has passed. Check out the recording of this program here: http://youtu.be/6iH_ikNmn9I **

The Ontario Literacy Coalition has a series of professional development webinars for literacy professionals. I met these folks last year when I spoke at their Spotlight on Learning Conference. I was delighted when they invited me back this year to present via webinar. I gave them a few different programs to choose from and they put the topics out for a vote to their stakeholders. The topic that got the most votes was “New Trends in Education: Formal, Non-formal and Informal Learning – Implications for Evaluation and Assessment”.

This is a free event for educators and literacy professionals. But there’s one catch. They have a limited number of seats, so if you’re interested, you’ll need to reserve your spot. Their May webinar was filled to capacity. Join us:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

1:00 – 2:00 p.m. EDT (There is a link to show that in your time zone here).

Feel free to share this post with other literacy advocates. This is an open event. Would love to have you come and be part of the conversation!

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Appreciative Inquiry: A brief overview

May 22, 2011

In research and in leadership, it’s good to know what your biases and values are. In my own work, I take an asset-based approach, finding the strengths and building on them. I’ve grounded much of my professional, leadership and research work on this philosophy, which is grounded in Appreciative Inquiry (AI). The other day, someone asked me what AI is, so I’m posting a brief overview that I wrote up for another project about a year ago. It’s a “quick and dirty” overview, with some references:

Appreciative Inquiry: An Overview

hands hope sunAppreciative Inquiry (AI) is an approach used in academia, business and the not-for-profit sectors. The main pioneer of  AI is widely recognized to be David Cooperrider.

Traditional methods of assessing and evaluating a situation and then proposing solutions are based on a deficiency model. Traditional methods ask questions such as “What are the problems?”, “What’s wrong?” or “What needs to be fixed?” Sometimes such questions are sugar-coated in trendy jargon. Instead of asking “What’s the problem?”, which can seem a little harsh, the question may be couched in terms of ‘challenges’: “What are the challenges?” Regardless of whether the question is asked harshly or softened with less antagonistic language, the model remains as one of deficiency. The thinking behind the questions assumes that there is something wrong, that something needs to be ‘fixed’ or ‘solved’. Business people (especially consultants) like to say they ‘can provide solutions’. The underlying belief is that there is something wrong and it needs to be fixed.

Appreciative Inquiry flips all that on its head. It is an asset-based approach. It starts with the belief that every organization, and every person in that organization, has something good about it. Each person has something valuable to contribute and the organization itself has merit of some kind. It asks questions like “What’s working?”, “What’s good about what you are currently doing?”

AI seeks to uncover the best of what an organization is currently doing, using interviews with its members. The interviews challenge participants to examine and discuss what is good about their current situation and explore what works well within the organization. This approach then utilizes the data collected from those interviews to construct a plan for enriching the organization by building on what is already working and what is already considered to be successful.

An initial reaction for some people is to balk when they hear questions like “What’s working?” An retaliatory answer may follow of “Nothing is working! It’s all a mess!”. People are so used to working within a deficiency framework, that it is almost like the brain can not process questions that are rooted in an asset-based approach. It may take some time for people to come up with an answer to questions based on an AI approach. This is because AI challenges us to shift our paradigm from deficiency thinking to asset thinking. Changing paradigms takes some time, but the results can be worth it.

Appreciative inquiry can be particularly useful in organizations where individuals or group of people are polarized over major issues. Rather than exacerbating the polarization between or among the parties, it assumes that a core of positive traits exist which can be highlighted and expanded up on to create even more success in an organization.

Bibliography

Cooperrider, D. L. (2007). Business as an agent of world benefit: Awe is what moves us forward.   Retrieved February 21, 2008, from http://appreciativeinquiry.case.edu/practice/executiveDetail.cfm?coid=10419

Cooperrider, D. L., & Whitney, D. (2008). A positive revolution in change: Appreciative inquiry.   Retrieved March 27, 2008, 2008, from http://appreciativeinquiry.case.edu/uploads/whatisai.pdf

Cooperrider, D. L., Whitney, D., & Stavros, J. M. (2003). Appreciative inquiry handbook. Bedford Heights, OH: Lakeshore Publishers.

Eliot, C. (1999). Locating the Energy for Change: An Introduction to Appreciative Inquiry. Winnipeg: International Institute for Sustainable Development / Insitut International du Developpment Durable.

Faure, M. (2006). Problem solving was never this easy: Transformational change through appreciative inquiry. Performance Improvement, 45(9), 22-31.
Murrell, K., L. (1999). International and intellectual roots of appreciative inquiry. Organization Development Journal, 17(3), 49-61.

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Rubrics for Grading Student Presentations

December 20, 2010

This semester I developed some rubrics for grading student presentations in class. They include criteria such as preparation and presentation skills. The rubrics are designed so that they can be used either for native speakers or language learners.

There are 4 different rubrics. I used them with my university-age students. They could also be easily used with adult learners or high school students. For younger grades, you may want to adapt them to their level.

Feel free to use them, share them or let them inspire you to create your own.

Have a quick look here:

Rubric #1

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Rubric #2

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Rubric #3

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Rubric #4

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Sometimes the links disappear from Scribd and if that has happened, you can also download them directly from my blog:

Click the link to download –> Presentation Grading Rubric 1 

Click the link to download –> Presentation Grading Rubric 2 (Updated in 2013) 

Click the link to download –> Presentation Grading Rubric 3

Click the link to download –> Presentation Grading Rubric 4 (Updated in 2013)

Update : March 19, 2013 – If you are looking for these and the links do not work, please e-mail me at saraheaton2001 (at) yahoo (dot) ca. I’ll be happy to send them to you.

Update: March 27, 2017 – This is one of the more popular posts on my blog. As of this update, it has been viewed over 120,000 times. If you found this post useful, please like it and share it with others.

Related post: Teaching Public Speaking to Literacy or ESL Students http://wp.me/pNAh3-mZ

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Student portfolios for Language Learning: What They Are and How to Use Them

August 10, 2010

The use of student portfolios is increasing in education, as asset-based approaches to evaluation and assessment become more popular. When it comes to demonstrations of learning, student portfolios are gaining popularity at a rapid pace. They are collaborative efforts between students and teachers that provide clear demonstrations of students progress and achievements. Students are guided by their teachers to develop their own portfolios over time. Student portfolios contain demonstrations of their knowledge and authentic language use, such as:

  • Written work. These demonstrate the students use of vocabulary, knowledge of grammar and writing structures.
  • Digital and multimedia projects. These demonstrate their oral and listening competencies.
  • Reflections from students and teachers. This feedback replaces traditional grading. The intent is for the teacher and the student to engage in a kind of dialogue about the student’s progress. This also empowers the student to become self aware as a learner.

Whether they are traditional or electronic, portfolios are being used in classrooms across the globe at an increasing rate.  The beauty of the student portfolio is that the student owns it, not the teacher. Students carry their portfolios forward from grade to grade, taking responsibility for their learning as they go.

Here are some resources on the topic of student portfolios you may find useful:

Barrett, Helen.  February 18, 2009. ISTE Webinar. http://sites.google.com/site/eportfolios/iste

Barrett, Helen (2004). Professional Development for Implementing Electronic Portfolios. Retrieved from http://electronicportfolios.org/teachers/profdev.html

Barrett, Helen. (n.d.) http://electronicportfolios.org/index.html

Brownell, Wendy. Linguafolio and Portfolios. (n.d.) http://wendybrownell.wikispaces.com/Linguafolio+and+Portfolios

Dominguez, Juan. E-portfolios: Del PLN al Aprendizaje Retrieved 26 May, 2011 from http://juandomingofarnos.wordpress.com/2011/05/26/e-portafolios-del-pln-al-aprendizaje/

Grace. (1992). The Portfolio and Its Use: Developmentally Appropriate Assessment of Young Children.  Retrieved from http://www.tcdsb.org/academic_it/ntip/Assessment%20Files/PDF%20Format%20V5/4a-%20Assessment%20-%20Portfolio%20Assessment.pdf

North Carolina Regional Educational Laboratory. (n.d.). Portfolios.   Retrieved from http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/students/earlycld/ea5l143.htm

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


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