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Program portfolios: documenting teachers' growth in reflection-based inquiry

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Meeting the challenge of program accountability is a goal for teacher education programs across the USA. In this context, achieving effective assessment practices that provide concrete evidence of program participants' knowledge and skills has become both an increasingly significant issue and a challenge to teacher education programs seeking to document the attainment of their program learning outcomes. This qualitative study examined the portfolio reflections of 51 teachers enrolled in an advanced master's degree program whose learning outcomes are aligned with the core propositions of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Using the four levels of reflection and a fifth level that emerged from data analysis, we examined the levels of development and change in teachers' reflections across the program. This analysis helped the researchers to determine to what degree teachers developed a reflection-based inquiry stance in their classrooms during the program. The study contributes new findings to the body of literature on the role and function of portfolios in teacher education programs seeking to document teachers' understanding and application of specific program goals and professional standards as a result of professional development coursework. As an authentic assessment tool, portfolio data (i.e., evidence such as the reflections contained therein) can provide an important lens for capturing teachers' approach to teaching and learning and provides insight into the complexity of professional development for practicing teachers.

Keywords: portfolios in teacher education; professional development; program accountability; reflective practice

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: College of Education and Human Development, Advanced Studies in Teaching and Learning Program, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2011

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