EARLY CHILDHOOD TEACHERS' PERSPECTIVES OF EPORTFOLIOS AS TOOLS FOR CHILDREN'S EVALUATION AND FAMILY INVOLVEMENT
1 School of Education and CI&DETS, Polytechnic of Viseu (PORTUGAL)
2 School of Education, Polytechnic of Viseu (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Conference name: 11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 6-8 March, 2017
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:Besides the support to children's learning, ICT is a tool for teachers' professional development and communication with families. Several high quality early childhood centers have found ways to use ICT to deepen the relationship with families and share information about the child (Carr, 2001; Whalley, 2007; Mateus, Figueiredo & Rego, 2015). Supporting the participation of parents the children's learning means seeing them as partners with valuable information about the child that can only be accessed in the family setting but is relevant for the school setting. This is important to the view of children's evaluation as based on several sources of information (Cardona, 2014).
E-portfolios are important both for evaluation and for parental/family involvement in early childhood practices (Barrett, 2007; Munro, 2011). Regular portfolios are highly valued in authentic assessment of children (Gullo, 1994; Parente, 2004) but electronic portfolios are a new phenomenon in early childhood education and there is minimal existing research available on their use and effectiveness as a learning and communication tool in early childhood education (Higgings, 2015).
In this study, three highly experienced early childhood teachers (over 30 years) were interviewed about their perspectives on e-portfolios, namely a) potential for early childhood education evaluation practices and b) obstacles regarding its use. The qualitative study used a purposeful sampling strategy: all three teachers had masters degrees, good practices of parental involvement and used authentic assessment strategies The interviews were transcribed for content analysis.
All teachers considered the e-portfolio has strong advantages for early childhood evaluation practices. The arguments used connected to the concept of authentic assessment: the possibility of showing the moments, performances, experiences of the child that support the evaluation. It was also highlighted that the multimedia format allows to gather richer and more diverse documents to include in the evaluation: photographs, videos, audio recordings, comments from different participants. The possibility of opening the portfolio to other contributors - parents, specially - was highly valued. The teachers revealed knowledge about specific ways to build an e-portfolio, namely platforms availably and how those allow parents to access and upload information. Children's participation in their own languages (Malaguzzi, 1993) was also pointed as an advantage. One of the teachers noted that the comments children do when revisiting their portfolios could, in this way, be registered instead of depending on the adult's noticing and valuing. Also children's facial expressions.
The foreseen problems pertained to time - which is acknowledged as influencing many decisions about evaluation. It was also mentioned that the processes of pedagogical documentation would have to be restructured. The ICT skills were not perceived as an obstacle - on the contrary, it was recognized that both for children and for adults, organizing e-portfolios would bring a big development of ICT skills. A second reason that discouraged the teachers had to do with a move of contact with parents to the virtual. This was seen as endangering the already sparse presence of the parents at the schools. Finally, a third concern had to do with security and unauthorized access to information and images of children.
Keywords: Early childhood education, eportfolios, evaluation, authentic assessment, ICT.