Monday, September 04, 2006

moving mportfolios forward

I am still working through the basic setup of our eportfolios. I am working on principles provided by Love, McKean & Gathercool (2004). In particular, I am not keen to see the eportfolios being put together by apprentices as being only level 1 portfolios – just a repository of products they make, along with a few recipes and comments. I would like to move the eportfolios that our apprentices will be producing up to at least a level 3. This means that the portfolio is open to both the tutor and the student. The tutor will then take steps to help the student reflect more on their evidence to work out which images, recipes or descriptions are most relevant to particular competencies that the student is working through. Basically making use of cognitive apprenticeship principles to help apprentices work how how to go about constructing evidence of their journey from apprentice to baker.

If we take one product line as an example, I would not want to just see a photo of the final product, but some photos, videos or aural descriptions of some of the steps taken to produce the product. The recipe should not just be a list of ingredients, but also a detailed description of the method along with the nuances the apprentice has picked up as to how the product will be produced. So the instruction – mix the dough until it is clear and well-developed – might be accompanied by a photo of a well developed dough plus a description (text or aural) as to why the dough in the picture is actually well – developed. Something along the lines of, “the dough is smooth & silky. It is easy to stretch it out to form a thin sheet of dough. The consistency and the temperature of the dough is suitable for making “xyz product” because ……”

I suppose that I am trying to capture the essence of what it is that differentiates a good baker from a competent baker. A good baker uses all their senses to produce high quality products (often in large volume) to a consistently high standard each time. When I talk to third year apprentices, I am often trying to work out if they are good or just competent. My decision is often based on an a build up of my observations of the apprentice’s work methods, the products they make and the way in which they respond to questions I ask them. My decision is then based on my intuitive judgement. The difference between good & competent is often difficult to pin down but I believe that eportfolios, assembled with guidance and care, will help showcase skills, knowledge, attitudes and the convergence of these characteristics.

Therefore, my long term goal is to move the eportfolios into a level 5 scenario. So that the eportfolio becomes “an authentic / authoritative evidence that links the contents of the folio to standards, programmes and other descriptors, including higher order taxonomies.”