As a mother of a kindergarten son a few years ago, I embraced the digital world through Freshgrade portfolios and said good-bye to letter grades on report cards! And so is the growing trend for K to grade 10 in British Columbia as reported by the Globe and Mail (Feb, 5, 2017)
I was not sure how I felt about this. I still have a file folder with my own report cards from K to grade 12. But hey, I was that A+ student and every report card cemented my sense of achievement and love of learning. But how do students feel who struggle to get that B or C+? Are report cards overrated? Do report cards impair learning? Do report cards document the process of learning? It seems that current evidence suggests a move away from report cards for school age.
A switch to Freshgrade (TM) electronic portfolios provided a window into my son’s classroom. I could see videos and photos as evidence of my son’s learning progress posted several times per week, with immediate notification to my mobile app, just as this mother describes in this video
Although colleges and universities are slower on removing letter grades, they are instead using e-portfolios in more diverse ways. The University of Waterloo’s Centre for Teaching and Learning suggests that “a good ePortfolio is both about being a product (a digital collection of artifacts) and a process (of reflecting on those artifacts and what they represent) (https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-resources/teaching-tips/educational-technologies/all/eportfolios)
But there is a tension between the assessment needs of the academic institution and the learning needs of the student. As the University of Waterloo’s Centre for Teaching and Learning suggests:
Institution-centered ePortfolios, are driven by “assessment of learning.” Student-centered ePortfolios, on the other hand, are driven by “assessment for learning,” which refers to academic assignments that fulfill the traditional role of assessing student learning while at the same time providing an opportunity for students to learn as they complete the assessment.
And so, educators need to decide which type of portfolio is most suitable for their educational program:
- assessment e-portfolio (assessment of product/outcome)
- learning e-portfolio (reflective process)
- career e-portfolio (employment tool)
A good way to begin your planning for e-portfolios in your educational institution is to explore samples of student portfolios says the University of Waterloo’s Centre for Teaching and Learning: video and samples
Freshgrade (2018). Giving parents a window into the classroom. Retrieved on Aug 27, 2018: https://www.freshgrade.com/parents/
Nixon, D. (2017, Feb 5). BC leads the push to eliminate letter grades from school report cards. Globe and Mail. Retrieved on Aug 27, 2018 from: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/bc-leads-the-push-to-eliminate-letter-grades-from-school-report-cards/article33907027/
University of Waterloo, Centre for teaching and Learning. (2018). E-portfolios explained: Theory and practice. Waterloo, Ontario. Retrieved on Aug 27, 2018 from: https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-resources/teaching-tips/educational-technologies/all/eportfolios