Professional Development

Conference Presentation: As a graduate associate with the Schreyer Institute of Teaching Excellence I co-facilitated an interactive 75 min session at the 2011 Professional and Organizational Development Network conference in Atlanta, GA.

Session Summary: The title of the session was “ePortfolios as reflective and collaborative tools for faculty developers”. The goal of the session was to help faculty developers to conceptualize, effectively design, and self-evaluate their educational developer portfolio. The facilitators reviewed the use of portfolios in higher education and the existing frameworks of faculty development portfolios. Participants worked in groups to generate a theme for the portfolio that reflects their role as educational developers. In addition, participants identified a goal that they have as faculty developers and propose practices by which they attain it. Lastly, presenters proposed types of evidence to document effective practices and potential criteria to self-evaluate a portfolio.

Session Feedback: We requested participants to provide feedback either in paper-and-pencil format or by posting a comment using an electronic form. Participants responded to the following questions:

  1. Which aspects of the session were valuable to you?
  2. In what other ways could this session has improved your self-efficacy and knowledge to develop an ePortfolio?
  3. Identify two things you plan to work on for your portfolio.

The session was valuable because it: (a) Proposed a structure to plan and organize the portfolio based on goals, beliefs and evidence with an emphasis on reflection, (b) Presented examples of ePortfolios, (c) Introduced a rubric to evaluate the portfolio. In addition, participants commented positively the overview of portfolio frameworks, scaffolding and discussion facilitation provided by the presenters.

Among the things that participants planned to work on the near future were:

  • Identifying a theme for the ePortfolio.
  • Specifying professional goals.
  • Writing a philosophy of practice.
  • Selecting an electronic platform for the portfolio.
  • Informing their promotions committee about the potential of ePortfolios.

Suggested improvements for the sessions included: (a) more in-depth discussion of portfolio examples and (b) more individualization such as developing an outline or mock portion of a portfolio such as coming up with individual goals.

Due to the time constraints and the interactive nature of the session we could not discuss more extensively the examples but we linked them to the presentation so that participants can revisit them. On the other hand, we agree that we could individualize some of the tasks so participants would have created starting points for their portfolios such as a set of personal goals.

As a first time attendee at POD I felt that the community is very welcoming to new consultants and open to innovative ideas. Without being judgmental, the more established and experienced members made suggestions and pointed to alternative angles of thought. I am already looking forward to meeting you in Seattle next year.

My personal favorite of the conference was titled: Engaging Students with a Collaborative, Learner-Centered Mid-Semester Evaluation. The session was facilitated by Carol Hurney and Nancy Harris of the Center for Faculty Innovation at the James Madison University. The facilitators presented an alternative form they use to conduct mid-semester evaluations (refer to as Teaching Analysis Poll-TAP) using the Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID) technique. The facilitators presented the results of a survey study that examined whether students who participated in a learner-centered (LC) format instead of a traditional SGID were more likely to take more responsibility for their learning.

Indeed, the students who participated in the LC-SGID reported that the participating in the discussion significantly influenced their preparation with the class and their interaction with their classmates. Also, they identified more learner-centered behaviors than course-centered or instructor-centered behaviors in which they engaged as a result of their participation to a LC than a traditional SGID. These results are promising in terms of using SGIDs to engage students with their learning via a mid-semester evaluation that helps not only the instructor but also the students to reflect and make decisions about their learning.