Qualitative Analysis of Student Perceptions of E-Portfolios in a Teacher Education Program

Jun. 01, 2012

Source: Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, Volume 28 No. 3, p. 99-107 (2012).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The purpose of this study was to investigate student interns’ perceptions of the e-portfolio process and what they learned as a result of this practice.

The researchers gathered in-depth information from 224 students, who were required to create e-portfolios for their academic program during their final semester of the 2008–2009 academic year. 
92% of the participants were female, and 8% were male.
The researchers asked students, using open-ended survey items, about the advantages, disadvantages, and obstacles they faced when creating and disseminating their e-portfolios.
Additionally, each student described his or her most significant e-portfolio learning experience and how to make the process more meaningful.


There were several themes:
Increased scope
Approximately 34% of the students at this institution suggested integrating e-portfolio development throughout their coursework rather than during the final stages (student teaching).
Many of the students complained that it was busy work during their internship, which is perceived as a difficult period of transition because they are responsible for applying their knowledge and managing a classroom.
Students hurriedly completed the tasks and collected the artifacts, detracting from the overall purpose of the e-portfolio.
Alignment with standards
Familiarity with standards and development provide students with the technological knowledge and skill to maximize its use.
Each semester, faculty and key personnel should explain the purpose of the e-portfolio and share examples from similar programs.
Therefore, teacher education programs should invest in making sure that students know how to use their e-portfolio systems to demonstrate what they have learned from their educational experiences.

Other important considerations in the integration of e-portfolios in teacher preparation programs are the opportunities to document growth, organize work according to standards, and type and frequency of feedback provided by faculty and other key personnel to students developing e-portfolios.

In this study, students received formal feedback from their university supervisors during a 15-week field experience.
In fact, although students received feedback from supervising teachers and peers in the development process of the artifacts, some of the students did not account for it.
As noted by several students, timing of the feedback affects how the students will respond, especially as the e-portfolio development process occurs simultaneously with student teaching.
Guidance and feedback should be provided at previously announced check points so that students can plan, have enough time to reflect, and revise their e-portfolios accordingly. Guidance might be enhanced if multiple reviewers (e.g., peers, teacher supervisors, and other faculty members from teacher preparation programs) provide feedback at different points during e-portfolio development and at its culmination.

In teacher education, aligning the e-portfolio with educational standards mainly through accreditation requirements strengthens the success of an e-portfolio.
Therefore, developing strong connections between accreditation standards and teacher candidates’ views of their abilities to meet those standards will help better address and reconcile the program’s and student’s needs.
Although students felt that the e-portfolio process was time consuming, many of them found it meaningful to their development as teachers, which is evidenced by suggestions for increased scope and the benefits of reflection and growth.

The authors conclude that it appears as though removing the barriers to implementation, such as technology issues, lack of guidance, and providing more time for the e-portfolio development, would lead to even more favorable outcomes.

Updated: Aug. 02, 2015