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thePEbuzz is an online portfolio which showcases what has been implemented in my PE classes. The idea is to share and connect with other physical educators, so we can become the best educators possible.

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Portfolio

This section will explore how the students have used portfolios in PE. Also see what my masters research says about portfolios in PE.

The impact of a 'sportfolio' in Physical Education:
 

I did my masters thesis on the role of portfolios in Physical Education, which are also known as sportfolios. At that particular moment of time, 'sportfolios' were becoming a big thing and quite a few practitioners were using them in their practice, therefore it was an interesting topic to explore for my own thesis and teaching practice.

The thesis is over 10 thousand words, and I am sure most do not want to read that many words, so I will summarise it below, and if you do wish to read it, I can send you a copy, if you email me. 

Context of the study...
  • All students have used a portfolio before (the school uses a 'dossier' portfolio, which showcases their best pieces of work.

  • My argument was that this type of portfolio does not show progression or learning. It only shows the end product.

  • Therefore, I designed a 'sportfolio' that includes all the pieces of work, which will hopefully show everyone involved, the learning journey that has taken place.

What the research tells us...
  • Portfolios in education have claimed to have many benefits, but have not been implemented consistently throughout the past few decades, suggesting certain issues have hindered it’s potential. 

  • One method of actively engaging students and also using a multifaceted approach to assessment is the use of portfolios in lessons. Portfolios are used to evaluate student’s progress, providing a platform where they can collate their pieces of work as evidence of their learning, which could include both standard and authentic assessments. 

  • The student would use it as a platform to collect their pieces of work as evidence of their learning, which could demonstrate students’ knowledge, skills, strategies, grasp of concepts, attitudes and achievement in a given area or over a specific period of time (Ocak & Ulu, 2009).  

Types of portfolios...
  • The dossier portfolio - serves as a promotional tool to enter a profession or programme.

  • The training portfolio - highlights the knowledge, skills and competencies a person has acquired. 

  • The reflective portfolio - evidences growth and accomplishments.*

  • The professional development portfolio - a personal evaluation and reflective account of professional growth

* The reflective portfolio will be used for this study.

The advantages of the portfolio...

Gilman et al, (1995) effectively summarises advantages for the use of the portfolio in education:

  1. Evaluation is not limited to a single score.

  2. They provide more information about a student’s progress.

  3. Encourages students to take charge of their own learning.

  4. Information gained from the portfolios is meaningful and substantial. 

  5. It is a form of evaluation that is bounded to have a parental approval.

Who does it benefit...
  • The student - The portfolio creates an environment where they feel safe enough to learn in many different ways, therefore personalising learning for each individual student.

  • The teacher - The portfolio can be used a self evaluation tool, however this would be intrinsically motivated by the teacher if they wish to improve their teaching.

  • The parents - The portfolio is seen to be an effective tool to foster communication between teacher, parents and students, where all three parties are involved in the implementation.

Research methods
  • Action research

  • 34 Grade 6 Students and Parents

  • Students and Parents completed a questionnaire pre and post implementation.

  • From the 34 students, 13 grade 6 students were selected for the focus group. 

  • Interviewed 3 teachers pre and post implementation.

  • Data analysis done through thematic analysis. 

Key findings
  • There is limited research surrounding this topic, especially in schools, therefore requiring an exploratory study to see how the portfolio supports students, teachers and parents. 

  • The focus of the sportfolio was to facilitate reflection and engagement in PE, students found many other uses for the sportfolio i.e. reflection, organisation, tools for learning, showing to parents. 

  • The students did find a difference between their 'sportfolio' and their portfolio in class, but did not understand why there had to be two portfolios.

  • Teachers reported that the portfolio is a time consuming task for both the student and teacher, and question whether it is worth the investment of time and effort.

  • Teachers reported that the sportfolio helped them stay organised, connected learning and assessed their own teaching. 

  • Unfortunately, due to the changes of the implementation process, students were asked to keep their sportfolio at school, which did not allow parents to see the sportfolio on a regular basis. Therefore this study could not determine whether the portfolio facilitated communication, however there were encouraging signs that most parents could see their child’s learning through a portfolio. 

Limitations
  • Motivation/Purpose - The subject ‘Physical Education’ is generally not deemed important, as it is classed as a non-academic subject, and usually has no importance from teachers or parents. Students did not see the purpose, as there was extra written work, in a normally physical lesson.

  • Priorities - Teachers had other priorities on their agenda, and found students lack of organisational skills demotivating and time consuming. 

  • Communication - Parents would rather communicate through emails and phones, thus not contemplating other modes of communication. 

  • Lack of skills - The Grade 6 students did not have the organisational skills to keep on top of their own work

Recommendations​​​

  • I believe if relevant training and successful examples were provided, then they would be ‘open’ to the variety of benefits witnessed in a portfolio.

  • I would strongly suggest the portfolio to be a whole school initiative, where the portfolio is not exclusive to a single subject, but to all subjects, where learning across all disciplines are evidenced. 

  • I strongly suggest teachers to implement an e-portfolio (electronic portfolio), which is an online digital paperless portfolio that requires little organisation from the student and is always accessible to all those involved. *

*  As soon as this study finished, I implemented an e-portfolio with my older Grade 9, 10 and 11 students, which has shown a greater success, when compared to the paper based sportfolio, mainly because it is more interactive and easier to manage. This allows me, as a teacher, to provide feedback consistently, as it always accessible. 

Self reflection

Before beginning this project, I was aware of how complex this study was going to be, because of all the parties involved. However, I believe, because of the limited research, there needed to be a study like this to direct future studies.

 

Although improving reflection in PE was the main focus of the portfolio, it is evident there are different purposes and I do not think they can be limited and will always be present in any type of portfolio, due to it’s multiple uses. Nevertheless, I observed demotivation from both students and teachers, because to them, it was not deemed important. Thus, I believe a whole school initiated portfolio would motivate both teachers and parents.

 

I naively presumed that teachers would use the portfolio to direct their own teaching, as that is what I use it for, but as identified in this study, teachers had their own uses for the portfolio, which I believe directly links to their own motivations and the purpose of the portfolio is based upon this. I do not think parents saw the portfolio as a communication tool but rather a tool that showed what their child was learning in school. Thus, suggesting, if the school were to implement a portfolio, then training would be required for all those involved, so everyone understands it’s purpose.

 

This project has affected my professional journey as a teacher, as I have learnt that not everyone will see a strategy the same way I see it, and will not have the same motivations as me, even though we are in the same profession. I am my own biggest critic and constantly tweak my practices for more effective teaching and learning, hence why I have implemented an e-sportfolio. I believe this allows me to understand my student’s learning better and students have been able to achieve higher grades, because their reflections have improved. I believe this is due to the tasks that are created, that allow students to express themselves and relate their learning to other situations. Now I have witnessed success through this, I have shared this with other teachers in my department, which they all have taken aboard. With technology dominating education at this moment of time, organisation and interaction has made the sportfolio more manageable and more importantly engaging for the students learning journey. 

References

Gilman, D.A., Andrew, R. R., & Cathleen, D. (1995). Making assessment a meaningful part of instruction. NASSP Bulletin, 79(573). 20-24.

Ocak, G. and Ulu, M. (2009). The views of students, teachers and parents and the use of portfolio at the primary level. Procedia Social and Behavioural Sciences; 28-36

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