Children’s Engagement with their Learning using E-portfolios
Narrative approaches to documentation and assessment in early childhood education (ECE) encourages children to be active contributors in their own learning journey. With the growing emphasis of technology in society it is natural that this shift has transformed assessment practices with the introduction of e-portfolios. E-portfolios are seen in tertiary, secondary and primary settings nationwide and most recently have been introduced into ECE as a way to extend traditional documentation methods. As a result, documentation and the role children have in their own learning has shifted. Despite their growing popularity in early childhood settings there is very little research into the effect that e-portfolios have on teachers, parents, and most importantly, children and their learning. Given this limited research this study sought to understand the ways in which children are engaging with their learning through e-portfolios. This mixed methodology study used a national online survey as well as case studies to develop an understanding of this topic. Participants included early childhood centre educators, parents and children from settings across New Zealand. Findings revealed a distinct variation in the ways that centres are using e-portfolios to engage children with their learning. A large number of centres are maintaining both hard-copy and online versions of a child's portfolio to ensure that children are not removed from contributing to and revisiting their learning. Whilst results showed examples of children's in-depth engagement with e-portfolios, they also highlighted that many centres are not yet harnessing their full potential. These findings suggest implications for teacher practice, including the need for greater support and training for teachers. As e-portfolios are still a new phenomenon in ECE this study suggests areas of future research to investigate this topic further to improve learning outcomes for children.