electronic portfolios, eportfolios, teacher education, teacher preparation. educational technology


Co-chairs: Dr. Donna Baumbach Dr. Gail West Background: Electronic portfolios are increasingly used to make critical decisions about teacher candidates and program accreditation. Adoption rates for portfolios are at nearly 90% for schools, colleges, and departments of education (Salzman, Denner, & Harris, 2002). Over 50% of institutions who rated themselves or were nominated by others as exemplary users of electronic portfolios use web-based database-driven electronic portfolio systems (Strudler & Wetzel, 2005b; Wetzel & Strudler, 2005b). There is a paucity of theory-driven, systematic, rigorous research on electronic portfolios and a need for in-depth, context-aware research on such initiatives. Purpose: To explicate the differential impact of different portfolios systems on preservice teachers. The overarching research question was, "What are the preservice teachers' experiences using tools to create an electronic portfolio?" Setting: The Teachers College at a large university and the Education Department at a small liberal arts college. Participants: Six preservice teachers at each institution served as key participants. Informal interviews with numerous other participants provided additional data. Research Design: Qualitative multi-site case study informed by Engeström's Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) (Engeström, 1987). Data Collection and Analysis: Document analysis, focus group interviews, individual interviews, thinkaloud work sessions, and lab and classroom observations provided data. Qualitative data analysis was informed by Creswell's "data analysis spiral" and Engeström's CHAT. Findings: Visits at both institutions presented several of the key ideas in the CHAT framework including the networked nature of activity, the portfolio as a boundary activity, contradictions within the portfolio activity, and changes to the portfolio activity system. Additional themes included transition, creativity, reflection, and resources.


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Graduation Date





Baumbach, Donna


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Education


Educational Research, Technology, and Leadership

Degree Program

Instructional Technology/Media








Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

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Multimedia 1: David shares his early concern about the digital portfolio project (00:41)

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Multimedia 2. Adah speaks about writing reflections and her switch to teacher preparation (01:14)

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Multimedia 3. Monica discusses portfolio requirement at MSU Teachers College (01:21)

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Multimedia 4. Tiffany takes part of the responsibility for her challenges (00:22)

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Multimedia 5. Gabrielle explains the hardest part of the portfolio authoring experience (00:51)

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Multimedia 6. Sarah describes the challenges of implementing changes in education (00:24)

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Multimedia 7. Amanda explains why she bought a laptop computer (00:30)

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Multimedia 8. Astra describes the value of starting the portfolio process early (01:12)

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Multimedia 9. Mallory talks about using portfolio assessment with future students (00:38)

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Multimedia 10. Phoebe explains her “wait and see” attitude (00:48)

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Multimedia 11. Anne talks about how she has learned HTML (00:51)

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Multimedia 12. Tucker shares an anecdote about his father and his portfolio (01:48)

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Multimedia 13. Cathy explains being caught in the transition (01:38) (24920 kB)
Multimedia 14. Video showing the variety of portfolios created at Mason State University (04:32)

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Multimedia 15. Movie tour of portfolios created at VendorBuilt College. Students demonstrate creativity within the constraints of their tools and requirements (07:16)

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Multimedia 16. Phoebe talks about the many discussions she and her peers had regarding artifact placement (00:47)

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Multimedia 17. Anne explains portfolio-related stress and late night work sessions (01:28)

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Multimedia 18. Anne describes her roommates' concern after her late night work sessions (01:33)

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Multimedia 19. Video tour of Angela's Classroom Management Plan and template (04:05)