Accessible Portfolios: Making it Happen in My Centre: an Action Research Study
This thesis explores how I improved my portfolios assessment practices by making children s portfolios freely available to children, their parents and whānau in the early childhood care and education centre where I worked. As the teacher researcher I present an insider perspective, my world view on how I improved my pedagogical practices in order to gain a deeper understanding of children s learning, and my role in supporting children s learning. This study has two components, a) the writer as the teacher researcher and, b) accessibility of children s portfolios and the involvement of children in the portfolio process. This study uses a qualitative research design, a mixed methodology of self-study action research and case study. Three theories, ecological, sociocultural, and Donald Schön s (1983) theory of learning and practice have informed and guided this research. This eclectic mix of theoretical frameworks provided me with some valuable insights on ways of examining and using portfolios with children, and understanding children s views on their portfolios. The findings in this study are particular to the centre where I worked and they may not be generalisable to other early childhood care and education centres. Nonetheless, my experiences highlight the potential importance of the process and issues that arise from making portfolios accessible. The findings revealed that my experiences of engaging in self-study action research promoted within the centre a community of learners, and an enquiry approach to teaching and learning. The findings of this study suggest that making portfolios freely available provides children with an understanding of the purpose, contents and ownership of their portfolios. When children frequently use and share their portfolios with peers and teachers it can promote critical self-reflection and self-assessment of their learning. Involving children in the portfolio process makes visible to children the value of their contributions to their learning. Overall, this study has significantly improved my pedagogical practices. It has enhanced teachers learning which has in turn, benefited the children s learning. Beyond that, making the portfolios accessible has strengthened parental understanding of their children s experiences at the centre.