April 2018: I have recently returned from a very productive few days with PESS colleague Missy Parker, at the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) on a fact-finding mission to discover more about best practice in the use of a system-wide platform for student electronic portfolios in Initial Teacher Education programmes. The Teaching Council of Ireland requires all Initial Teacher Education (ITE) students to provide evidence that they have met the learning outcomes for Teacher Education, usually through the creation of a portfolio. The collection and recording of evidence by our BSc Physical Education students has just begun so this project was timely for us.
As part of UL’s drive to broaden and develop International links, our project proposal – Initial Teacher Education (ITE) Portfolio Training Project – received a grant from the International Activity Challenge Fund (IACF). The project team was myself and Missy Parker from PESS together with Professor Paul Conway and Carmel Hincheon from the School of Education. It kicked off in March 2018 when we were delighted to welcome, from The School of Education and Behavioural Sciences UNC, Eugene Sheehan, Dean and Jingzi (Ginny) Huang, Associate Dean and Director of Teacher Education. They generously shared with us their experiences in the development and use of system wide data gathering technologies in documenting the achievement of ITE programme outcomes. Such technologies provide a centralised repository for both students and programmes to collect and aggregate evidence of student learning. That are different to learning and assessment platforms such as Sulis.
Our follow up visit to UNC included opportunities to interact with Faculty academics and administrators who manage and use a system-wide platform called LiveText. Talking directly to those involved in creating rubrics and assignments that connected students with their school placement experience was a very valuable and enlightening experience. We also had the privilege of watching students teaching out in the field on school placement, doing a great job of inspiring young people with their physical education lessons and interacting with their dedicated cooperating teachers. The students and teachers shared how they interact with LiveText giving us further insights on the strengths and challenges of such data collection platforms. Jaimie McMullen, School of Sport and Exercise Sciences at UNC, was especially helpful letting us witness the supervision of her student teacher as well as her own, the cooperating and the student interactions with LiveText. Of special interest to us was the links that LiveText was able to provide between the student’s uploaded evidence and the USA equivalent of ITE learning outcomes.
Building capacity to embed ITE portfolios into our UL undergraduate and post graduate TE programmes is now a requirement for us. The project has afforded an excellent opportunity to use PESS’s strength in Physical Education Teacher Education and Sport Pedagogy to initiate a direct link with UNC. We hope its lasting impact will be to continue a productive relationship between an international community of educators offering more understanding of and engagement with Irish Teacher Education and contributing to a group of teacher educators’ framing of their work with respect to their own practice.
Brigitte Moody is a lecturer in the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences at the University of Limerick. Her current research interests include professional development, professional learning and Physical Education Teacher Education Self-Study. Pre-service physical education teachers and children with disabilities. You can contact Brigitte via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or view Brigitte’s research profile on Researchgate