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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Curated carefully : shifting pedagogies through e-portfolio use in elementary classrooms Borthwick , Haley Margaret


Although many studies have been conducted looking at the use of electronic portfolios (e-Portfolios) in higher education, there is a lack of research looking at them as an integrated system for assessing, documenting, and reporting on student work in elementary school settings. This study examines teachers’ perceptions of the advantages and disadvantages of using e-Portfolios in elementary school, what teachers are using them for, and how using e-Portfolios is affecting teacher pedagogy. The study took place in a school district in British Columbia that has adopted e-Portfolios as a replacement for traditional report cards and where they are being used to document student work, give feedback, communicate with parents, assess students, and express learning. This qualitative research study was designed to gain insights into teachers’ attitudes and beliefs about using e-Portfolios and to uncover if their use was shifting teacher practice and pedagogy. It also aimed to examine why some teachers were choosing to continue with traditional report cards and had decided to forego using e-Portfolios altogether. Thirty-one teachers participated in the study which consisted of an online questionnaire and a small group sample of follow-up interviews with six respondents. Key findings from the research include that teachers felt: e-Portfolios changed their pedagogy in a positive way, e-Portfolios enhanced their assessment practices and communication with parents, and using them was making students more self-reflective. For those who chose not to use e-Portfolios, the main reason cited was difficulty with the chosen platform, while a small group explained that they felt e-Portfolios were not as meaningful as a form of assessment and reporting as traditional report cards were. This study provides insight into how the design of an e-Portfolio platform can negatively impact teachers’ usage of it as an educational tool and presents ideas for future research into e-Portfolio use at the elementary level. It also provides a glimpse into how teachers are carefully curating these digital containers of student work by creating what they felt were more meaningful learning experiences for their students.

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