Implementing Electronic Portfolios
I would like to take this time to advocate for using electronic portfolios within your art program. I first began using e-portfolios in 2000 while working with Stan Madeja from Northern Illinois University. At the time, I was teaching elementary school art and I implemented an electronic portfolio system for students in grades 2nd-5th. This was such a rewarding opportunity and a valuable chance to show student growth over time. You can read more about this project in Assessing Expressive Learning: A Practical Guide for Teacher-Directed Authentic Assessment in K-12 Visual Arts Education by Charles M. Dorn, Stanley S. Madeja, & F. Robert Sabol (2004), published by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
After that initial year of using e-portfolios with my 700 elementary students, I transferred to middle school and from 2001-2009, I implemented electronic portfolios with 6th-8th graders. Now at the high school, my high school students create e-portfolios that showcase their body of work, shows growth over time, and includes reflective writing in the form of an artist’s statement.
Since 2000, the technology for photographing work has advanced from digital cameras that held floppy disks to small sd cards. My high school students take their pictures using the school’s camera or even their own phones. With the accessibility of students using their own technology, students are able to take pictures at their convenience and at various phases of the project . This is very helpful to show the whole process rather than just the finished piece. The one constant in terms of technology has been the use of Microsoft power point to organize and present their e-portfolios.
Student Growth and Teacher Evaluation
By 2016, a portion of Illinois teacher’s evaluation, will be based on student growth. I see the electronic portfolio as one way that teachers can illustrate the growth their students have taken over the semester.
Preparing for College
If students keep their electronic portfolio updated throughout their high school years, they will be that much more prepared as they apply for colleges and scholarship opportunities. Many students are finding that colleges are requiring digital portfolios and artist’s statements so having this ahead of time, takes the pressure off. Much of their portfolio may consist of their best work completed through high school coursework, but when applying to college/university art departments, I encourage students to include drawings from life, works created in a variety of media, as well as a series of works based on a common theme.
One of the most important components of an effective system for electronic portfolios is student ownership. In a system where students document their process as well as the finished work through photographs, reflect through writing, and present their work in an organized system, students take ownership of their learning and take pride in documenting their successes.
-Karen Popovich, NBCT