I facilitated a symposium at AERA on April 11 entitled, Researching Electronic Portfolios in Schools: The Role of Teacher Professional Development. We had more than 30 people in attendance on a very snowy day in Chicago! Many people from outside the U.S. were interested in this research. There were some very interesting questions about the study, some of which I realized I was not prepared to answer, especially about impact on student learning. I co-presented with Evangeline Harris Stefanakis, who is doing longitudinal research in schools in New York City, where she is finding interesting results with bilingual students in some of the poorest schools in the city (they use PowerPoint as their ePortfolio tool). I have been working with her to get her results published on the Internet. She accompanied me on my trip to Australia and New Zealand, and since we shared flights and hotel rooms, we had lots of time to talk about research, especially in preparation for AERA.
There were more than 46 portfolio papers in 10 different sessions at AERA, primarily focused on reflection and teacher education, and some valuable additions to the literature. I was also discussant at a session on Teacher Education portfolios. My REFLECT study in K12 schools is certainly unique, although there are some studies that are being conducted in England that will provide more knowledge about the widespread implementation of ePortfolios in schools. As the final 24 questions for students and teachers in our REFLECT data collection, I am using those that were also used in the study conducted by Elizabeth Hartnell-Young in a study sponsored last winter by BECTA (British Educational Computing & Telecommunications Agency). I spent over a week with Liz in Hong Kong and Australia in March, and talked with her about her research (and also launched her new book, which I discussed earlier in this blog). All of my experiences over the last two months of traveling have led me to think more deeply about the REFLECT study.