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Zubizarreta (2004) Important Factors in Developing and Using Student Learning Portfolios

Zubizarreta (2004) Important Factors in Developing and Using Student Learning Portfolios

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Texto bastante descritivo sobre o papel e a importância dos portfolios
Texto bastante descritivo sobre o papel e a importância dos portfolios

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Published by: api-3736363 on Oct 15, 2008
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ZUBIZARRETA, John(2004). The Learning portfolio. Reflective practice for improving student learning.Bolton: Anke Publising (pp 24-38)
Important Factors in Developing and Using Student Learning Portfolios
The model I have proposed for the learning portfolio stresses thee interplay among the
vitalelements of 
, and
or mentoring. Sustaining thee process of developing and revising the portfolio is the power of writing as a corollary to thinking and learningas well as a creative and facilitative activity for 
, and
learning. The learning portfolio, therefore, consists of a written narrative section in which the
student reflects critically
about essential questions of what, when, how, and why learning hasoccurred. In the course of such introspective analysis, the student is guided to think further abouthow specific acts of learning - for instance, a seminar or lab course, a special writing assignment ina class, a long-term undergraduate research project, a field experience or internship, aninterdisciplinary core, or an honors program of study - have contributed to a coherent,developmental, interrelated process of learning..I point out that in tee extensive literature about teaching portfolios, critical reflection is citedrepeatedly as the main stimulus to improvement of practice. While the portfolio is widelyimplemented as a "relevant, valid, useful component of a teaching evaluation system" (Zubizarreta,1999: 164), the primary benefit of teaching portfolio development is
, a chief motivation for "engaging in the reflection and documentation that comprise a portfolio" (Seldin,Annis. & Zubizarreta,1995: 60). Such enhancement of teaching performance occurs as a result of the mentoring and systematic self-analysis that characterizes the process of reflection in writing areliable and valid portfolio. Seldin (1997), the leading voice teaching portfolios, captures themessage of the power of reflection: "In truth, one of the most significant parts of the portfolio is thefaculty member's self-reflection on his or her teaching. Preparing it can help professors unearth newdiscoveries about themselves as teachers" (p. 8).Similarly, learning portfolios emphasize that students' knowledge and, more significantly, their understanding of how and why such knowledge fits into a larger framework of cognitive andemotional development are fundamentally connected to the opportunities they have to reflectcritically on their education and on the very meaning of learning itself. Learning portfo lios helpstudents unearth new discoveries about themselves as learners.But students do not automatically know how to reflect to advantage; they may lack the skills of reflection or they may confuse reflective inquiry with untempered emotional unloading. Brookfield's(1995) guidelines for his students' learning journals are excellent reminders of how important it is toapproach the use of such learning tools carefully and to be deliberate and dear in expressingexpectations to students. Perry (1997) also warns,
Most importantly,
the purpose
and audience of any portfolio
must beexplicit 
. Moreover, the purpose
must be meaningful 
to the students. All  students do not have to assemble portfolios for the same purposes and audiences, but 
all must have explicit rubrics for scoring 
. (p.188).Examples of such rubrics are shared (…) in Campbell, Melenyzer, Nettles, and Wyman (2000) offer handy checkpoint lists. Additional evaluation models are found in Martin-Kniep's (1999) book on professional portfolios and at one of the many links in Barrett's (2000b) web site on electronic portfolios (http://trarisition.alaska.edu/www/portfolios/EPDevProcess.html#eval). The clarity anduseful guidance provided by such detailed expectations and evaluation criteria promote more focused,substantive reflection on the part of students. Without such planning and precision on the part of teachers, students will have a reduced chance of embracing the challenges and rewards of reflective practice.Drawing from a portfolio project she helped implement among K-12 instructors, D`Aoust (1992) points out that although many teachers considered reflection to be a critical component of using portfolios, they also discovered that it was the most difficult to “teach”. The difficulty was that moststudents lacked a vocabulary enabling reflection" (p. 44). D'Aoust further reveals how the teachers1
"found that, in order to initiate and sustain student reflection, they needed to structure specificquestions for th students” (p.44).The following are some examples from D'Aoust's account, freelymodified to suggest how such prompts can be used across disciplines for students self-analysis of their development as learners:
How am I doing on this lab report or paper assignment?
Where am I headed in this statistical summary and analysis?
How does this piece of writing compare with my other
How did I sustain my interest in collecting this data?
Did collaborating with peers or with my instructor help me better achieve learninggoals of my practicum?
How would I describe my progress as a learner in my major, and what evidence can Igive in my portfolio?
Where do I need help as a learner in my chosen field?
How can a peer mentor or the teacher assist me to become a better learner?
 D'Aoust's samples are easily adapted to other disciplinary areas, and the underlying advantage of designing such probes in any context is that students begin to develop a vocabulary of reflection, ameans for communicating to themselves, to each other, and to external evaluators the individualcharacter and progress of their learning.Brooldield's (1995) instructions and questions on keeping a learning journal are worth sharing atlength, too:The purpose of this journal...will give you some insight into your own emotional and cognitiverhythms as a learner. By this, I mean that you will become more aware of how you go about organizingyour learning; what kinds of learning tasks you are drawn to, what teaching styles you find mostcongenial, what tasks you resist and seek to avoid, what conditions encourage you to take risks inlearning...If you`d like some structure to help you with the first few weeks' entries, try writing a fewlines in response to me following questions (pp. 97-98):
What have I learned this week about myself as a learner?
.What have I learned this week about my emotional responses' to learning?
What were the highest emotional moments in my learning activities this week?
What were the lowest emotional moments in my learning activities this week?
What learning tasks did I respond to most easily this week?
What learning tasks gave me the greatest difficulties this week?
What was the most significant thing that happened to me as a learner this week?
What learning activity or emotional response most took me by surprise thisweek?
Of everything I did this week in my learning, what would I do differently if I hadto do it again?
What do I feel proudest about regarding my learning activities this week?
What do I feel most dissatisfied with regarding my learning activities this week? 
Clearly, Brookfield is communicating to students that getting beyond the acquisition of presumably2
known facts to questioning received knowledge and then to self-examining the complexepistemological learning process involved in knowing ourselves and our world is the hallmark of critical thinking higher-order learning, and reflective judgment. The learning portfolio, installed in anyof its numerous print or electronic manifestations in a student's educational progress, provides avehicle for such practiced reflection.
Complementing portions of reflective narrative, an appendix of documentary materials balances the portfolio by providing concrete evidence of the student's claims, descriptions, analyses, reflections.The narrative must include methodical references throughout to documentary materials in theappendix, linking reflection and evidence in a sound representation of the extent, meaning, and valueof a student's learning. If, in the course of the reflective narrative, a student suggests gained mastery of a specific skill or aspect of disciplinary content, then a keyed reference to evidence in a correspondingappendix will substantiate what the student has learned. In an electronic portfolio, the reference would be a hypertext link. . No matter the medium of expression, the benefit to the student is an opportunity to engage in self-examination of what has been learned in an assignment, a course, or a program; how it has beenapplied; why the learning has been valuable; and to what extent the product of learning meetseducational standards and goals. The combination of reflection and documentation encourages thestudent to articulate the core aims of portfolio development:
Engage students in a process of inquiry into what they have learned.
Provide students with a model for demonstrating the outcomes of learning.
Establish a reflective learning environment that helps students go beyondaccumulation of knowledge to analysis of how, when, and why they have learned.
Promote thinking about what lies ahead for improvement and future learning.
The process of such reflection tied to evidence promotes a sophisticated, mature learningexperience that closes the assessment loop from assertion, to demonstration, to analysis, to evaluation,to goals. Such coherence between reflective narrative and materials in the appendix is necessary to stemthe potential influence of what Weiser (1997) calls the "schmooze" and "glow" (pp. 30-301) of reflective writing which can skew - in either positive or negative ways - the authenticity of portfoliowork.The problems uncovered by Weiser's shrewd analysis are real and common enough to merit someattention here. A portfolio system - relying heavily on qualitative information and on a student's ability.to communicate meaningful gains in learning - can easily lose sight of substance. One cause of resistance to implementation of student portfolios (he same is true of faculty teaching portfolios) is thecomplaint that portfolios too easily risk the shine of rhetoric, me potentially blinding effect of  persuasive writing, solicitous tone, and perhaps invented achievement. Possibly, the portfolio may evenfabricate the prized outcome of improvement based on falsely engineered products that seeminglydetail progress from lesser to greater skills and accomplishments. I have mentored many faculty indeveloping teaching portfolios, and I have heard the same suspicions about faculty portfolios asongoing displays of professional improvement. Faculty might ask "Why articulate lofty, challenginggoals when one can set sights lower and demonstrate progress by leaps and bounds?" Students mightask, "Why do my best on an essay assignment or lab project when I can ratchet down a first effort andthen produce a much better final endeavour?"Brookfield (I995) points out yet another fascinating possibility that may happen inadvertently whenlearning portfolios stress the importance of reflection and students misinterpret the message to meanthat they must find ways to hype their self-reporting (p.13):
Student journals, portfolios, and learning logs are all me rage among teachers who advocate experiencial methods. Teachers believe that encouraging students to speak personally and directly about theiexperiences honors and encourages their authentic voices. That this often

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